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Dear Elza!

By film editor Gert Stonkers

Posted June 15, 2018
Dear Elza!
Stonkers' stomping ground: The Hollywood Hills near Bodmin yesterday. © Ignatius Rake

If you take your war films seriously, you really need to watch Dear Elza!, says film buff Gert Stonkers.

Directed by Zoltán Füle and starring Gábor Makray, Dear Elza! is a 2014 Hungarian war film that really needs to be watched by anyone with a serious interest in the genre.

Set during the closing stages of World War II, as the Soviet Red Army advances towards victory on the Eastern Front, this excellently shot, acted and directed film is essentially a retelling of the biblical story of Job.

As such, it has what might be described as a slightly supernatural undercurrent.

However, this is no ghost yarn per se.

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Rather, it is a gritty and unglamorous portrayal of war in the manner of Cross of Iron, Stalingrad or Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War.

Moreover, what makes this film different to most Hollywood-style glory fests is that it recounts its tale from a Hungarian perspective.

And if you didn't know it already, Hungary willingly fought on the side of the Nazis along with such other countries that 'don't like to talk about it much' as Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and Finland.

This alone gives the film a somewhat unique twist in as far as what most English-speaking film-goers are used to, but it should be noted that Dear Elza! in no way seeks to glorify or justify Hungary's decision to fight side by side with the Nazis.

Rather, it chronicles the plight of a man who just desperately wants to get home.

His own side, however, not to mention the Soviets and a certain character he meets along the way, all seem to have slightly different plans for him, none of which appear to take his best interests into account.

Fancy a spot of mine clearing, anyone?

See also I Don't Need Twitter, I Have a Horse, posted 16/11/17.

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