By Marton Dunai
BUDAPEST Jan 31 Hungarian film director Miklos
Jancso, director of five films nominated for best director
prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, died on Friday of lung
cancer at the age of 92, his family said.
Jancso was widely credited for instilling a unique quality
into Hungarian cinema, such as long, unbroken shots and the
intense examination of the relationship of ordinary men and
those in power.
The prolific director, who has more than 30 feature films
and nearly 50 shorter pieces to his name, had suffered from lung
cancer for some time, his family told Hungarian news agency MTI.
He was already 37 years old when he made his first feature
film in 1958, "The Bells Have Gone to Rome", and seven years
later earned a nomination for best director at Cannes for his
work on "The Round Up".
An allegorical depiction of liberty versus oppression, "The
Round Up" was only allowed to be featured at Cannes because
Jancso convinced Hungary's then-Communist leaders that it had
nothing to do with the crushed anti-Soviet revolution in 1956.
Although Jancso was bypassed for the award that year he
received it for "Red Psalm" in 1972. In the elaborate film,
based on a 19th-century peasant revolt, Jancso took his early
style to the extreme: he used only 26 very long shots.
In 1979, Jancso was recognised with a lifetime achievement
award at Cannes.
"We have lost the greatest Hungarian film director of all
time, a thinker and a real democrat," the director Bela Tarr,
whose films built on Jancso's legacy, told MTI.
"We are all the poorer for it. We will miss him forever."
Jancso, who was married three times, followed the Italian
screenwriter Giovanna Gallardo to Italy, where he lived with her
for a decade and directed a string of Italian films, including
"Private Vices, Public Virtues", a 1975 historical drama.
In later life he changed tack and began to employ chaos as
an organising principle in his films, with less mainstream
success than in his early career.
Along with directing, he was chairman of the Hungarian
Directors' Guild, and several times a liberal candidate for
A cheerful father figure of Hungary's liberals,
affectionately called "Uncle Mike", he supported legalising
marijuana. He is survived by four children.
(Editing by Michael Roddy and Alison Williams)