The HongaRijn Festival held in and around the Junushoff on Saturday 27 September has inspired Movie W to screen the exclusive pre-premier of the latest Hungarian film Le Grand Cahier/The Notebook.
As WWII breaks out, twin boys, raised with loving care by their parents, are sent to live with their grandmother in the countryside. To encourage them to keep a diary of their experiences and all they learn, their father sends them off with ‘Un Grand Cahier’. After the war, the diary will enable their father to catch up with their development. In the village, grandma is known as ‘the witch’ and treats the children extremely harshly. They decide to toughen up so that they can withstand the challenges their new life throws at them. They seem to take this process to the extreme, but ultimately they still possess a grain of empathy.
Whereas the Netherlands has Oorlogswinter by Jan Terlouw to educate young readers about WWII, France has Le Grand Cahier by Ágota Kristóf, written in 1986. These two children exemplify how war and violence cause the loss of humanity throughout society as a whole. That abstract loss becomes tangible. Wry observations leave no doubt as to the impact of war on children. Everything in the film, including the ‘colour palette’, contributes to the film’s atmosphere. No precise details are given about the exact location of the village, nor of the parents’ resistance activities. This story could be set in any war. This is quality cinema. With its unusual form and timeless plot, this totally believable story promises a unique and unforgettable film experience. (AvL)