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Conflict and Controversy in Small Cinemas


Edited By Janina Falkowska and Krzysztof Loska

This book examines small cinemas and their presentation of society in times of crisis and conflict from an interdisciplinary and intercultural point of view. The authors concentrate on economic, social and political challenges and point to new phenomena which have been exposed by film directors. They present essays on, among others, Basque cinema; gendered controversies in post-communist small cinemas in Slovakia and Czech Republic; ethnic stereotypes in the works of Polish filmmakers; stereotypical representation of women in Japanese avant-garde; post-communist political myths in Hungary; the separatist movements of Catalonia; people in diasporas and during migrations. In view of these timely topics, the book touches on the most serious social and political problems. The films discussed provide an excellent platform for enhancing debates on politics, gender, migration and new aesthetics in cinema at departments of history, sociology, literature and film.

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16. De-centered subversion: Hukkle and the challenging of revisionist historiography (Phil Mann)

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Phil Mann

University of St Andrews

16. De-centered subversion: Hukkle and the challenging of revisionist historiography

Abstract: This chapter explores how Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi, in his debut feature film Hukkle (2002), challenges restorative nostalgia in post-communist Hungary. Through the film’s penetrative and, at times, subterranean cinematography, Pálfi creates a visual metaphor inviting his audience to look beyond the surface of the film’s ostensibly idyllic rural imagery to reveal a more disagreeable reality that lies beneath this façade. I argue that Hukkle’s aesthetic constitution serves as a metaphor used to confront post-communist nostalgia, suggesting a need to challenge the rose-tinted myths of collective memory and engage with the darker issues of the past that underlie the more palatable and socially agreeable renderings of history that have come to dominate contemporary historical discourse in Hungary.

Keywords: Hukkle, Pálfi, Hungary, post-communism, history, memory, political myths, restorative nostalgia

In his winning proposal for the design of Budapest’s Memento Park (Szoborpark)1, Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd stated that: “Every violent form of society formalises the need and the right to reanalyse, touch up and appropriate their own past in order to shine favourable light on the ‘historical necessity’ of their regime. Democracy is the only regime which is capable of looking back to its past, with all its mistakes and wrong turns, with its head up”2. Eleőd speaks of the potential for objective historical dialogue that democracy accorded Hungary following transition. Yet, despite the renewed possibility for unbiased public discourse, history in post-communist Hungary has been a highly divisive area of contemporary society, party to various political and social manipulations with political myths propagating over honest dialogue and genuine efforts to come to terms with the traumas of recent memory. The reasons for this are manifold; however, it is not my intention to address these matters here. Instead, my interests lie in the ways in which ← 223 | 224 → György Pálfi’s debut feature Hukkle (2002) scrutinizes history, myth and collective memory in contemporary Hungary. In this chapter, I propose to examine how the film confronts revisionist historiography in post-communist Hungary, history built upon therapeutic values operating in response to the hardships of transition and the disillusionment of life under the new political and economic systems.

Since its release, Hukkle has perplexed many who have sought to categorize it. The film has been described as at once an ethnography, a nature documentary, a dark comedy and a detective thriller3. Told using minimal dialogue, amplified audio and probing cinematography, the film explores a remote Hungarian village which, at the outset, appears idyllic; cinematographer Gergely Pohárnok captures this seemingly bucolic environment in penetrative detail, capturing the unseen and unheeded lives of the flora and fauna that initially appear to live in symbiosis with the human village dwellers. However, as the film progresses we find that a series of ominous murders have been taking place. Among the collection of meticulously detailed rural imagery, it emerges that the womenfolk are systematically poisoning their spouses and kin. A local detective investigates, but despite closing in on the truth, he is ultimately unable to put a stop to the women’s horrific deeds. At the film’s conclusion, the only men that remain in the village are bachelors, and the final scene takes place at a wedding, suggesting that another victim has been ensnared.

Despite Hukkle’s contemporary setting, the film is based upon actual historic events that took place during the 1920s in the Tiszazug region of the Great Hungarian Plains (Alföld). It was revealed that for over a decade women had been poisoning both babies and elderly men deemed to no longer have any practical worth to the community. As the police learned of what had transpired and the women went to trial, their misdeeds were stifled from the public sphere. The ← 224 | 225 → courts treated the incidents as distinct, unconnected cases, and in many instances trials were delayed by years to downplay the enormity of the crimes4.

By rendering this suppressed historical episode cinematically, Hungarian film scholar György Kalmár suggests that Hukkle “fills the void left by the silences of official history.” In concordance with Kalmár, I argue that Hukkle may indeed be examined through the discourse of counter memory. However, I would also suggest that the film simultaneously focuses upon surrogate historical memories. I argue that Hukkle examines the constructed nature of post-communist historical remembrance and does so by utilizing the discourse of intercultural cinema. Laura U. Marks in The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (2000) states that: “[a]s in many intercultural films and videos, the act of excavation performed by these works is primarily deconstructive, for it is necessary to dismantle the colonial histories that frame minority stories before those stories can be told in their own terms”5. In view of Marks’ analysis, I claim that Hukkle deconstructs therapeutic forms of historical memory, memory operating in response to post-communist fragmentation, renewed fears surrounding national death (nemzethalál) resulting from the rising prominence of global supranationalism and the continued search for an agreeable form of national identity following the collapse of communism.

Hukkle presents the act of deconstruction metaphorically, through the representation of the rural. From the outset, village life is presented as idyllic. However, over the course of the film, Pálfi destabilizes this romanticized image, slowly accentuating the dark secrets that lurk beneath the surface of the film’s ostensibly bucolic pastoral setting. In doing so, I argue that Hukkle symbolically challenges common conceptions of national history in post-communist Hungary. By depicting an overly sentimentalized vision of rural life, Hukkle symbolically transforms the rural into a site of restorative nostalgia, to use Svetlama Boym’s term.

Boym argues that restorative forms of nostalgia emphasize a return to origins, “to a prelapsarian moment”6. Restorative nostalgics seek to reconstruct a lost – and often mythicized – homeland and do so by glorifying restored and/or invented traditions. Boym claims that restorative nostalgia frequently lies at the heart of ← 225 | 226 → nationalist discourse and this is no more evident than in the politics of Hungarian populist István Csurka. Csurka has “claim[ed] to fight for the preservation of the Hungarian soul against the soiling influence of Western symbols and values”7, drawing upon pre-communist populist/urban cleavages and resurrecting the discourse of the populist writers (népi írok) of the inter-war period. Indeed, Csurka has repeatedly positioned Hungary’s urban centers as sites of anti-Hungarian cosmopolitanism, declaring the essence of the Hungarian soul to instead lie in the nation’s rural heritage and the traditions of its peasantry. Consequently, post-communist Hungary has witnessed a romantic revival of peasant culture and völkisch traditionalism8. I argue that Hukkle’s Arcadian representation of rural Hungary draws on these contemporary trends, transforming the landscape into an evocative site of collective memory and nostalgia.

Indeed, the film’s opening firmly establishes the countryside as a highly romanticized site of nostalgia. Following the surfacing of the snake that opens the film, the viewer is presented with an establishing shot of the village9. Quaint white cottages sporadically dot the lush green valley as the surrounding hills cast long shadows. We hear birds singing and dogs barking and, rather curiously, the echoed sound of a man hiccupping. The hiccupping man (Ferenc Bandi) is soon made known to us as he fills a jug with milk and takes a seat outside his house where he proceeds to watch the world go by. As his hiccups continue, the image cuts to a close-up shot of ants scurrying around the bench on which he sits, which creaks and tilts with every hiccup. A goose stretches its head through a fence to reach food; a cat yawns and stretches while idly grooming itself; a cricket leaps at the sound of the man’s hiccups; a boy herds goats from his bicycle while another cyclist passes; the amplified audio accentuating the sound of rusty chains. A horse and cart rides by the hiccupping man, the coachman asleep at the helm; sheep nonchalantly graze in the field while a young shepherd sits under a tree with her dog and listens to her personal stereo. A ladybird lands on her chest and walks up the wire of her headphones as she basks in the sun. She gathers it in her hand and closely examines it as it crawls over her fingers. An elderly woman picks flowers, singing to herself under the observation of a rabbit and later a stalk. The stalk then takes flight and the image cuts to an aerial shot of the village and the surrounding ← 226 | 227 → fields. Such idyllic rural imagery continues throughout the film and establishes a sense of Arcadia akin to that disseminated in Golden Age mythology.

Village life is presented as a natural and organic way of living, a place of simple virtues, tranquility and plenitude. The repeated shots of nature alongside those of the village dwellers suggest a harmonious relationship between man and beast. The film’s emphasis on the local wildlife also bestows upon the film an Edenic quality. Animals have been recurrent symbols in the representation of the Garden of Eden as a means of suggesting both the abundance of the land bequeathed to man by God as well as a sense of harmony. This is evident in the work of artists such as Jan Brueghel whose The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (1613) foregrounds various animals, placing predator and prey side by side, as a vision of paradise. Pálfi’s repeated emphasis on the local flora and fauna, likewise, presents a utopian vision of village life.

Thus, the opening sequences present an image of the rural congruous to that celebrated and elevated in revisionist histories and restorative myth; that of a Golden Age, an Eden. However, having established such a vision of rural life, Pálfi then proceeds to destabilize it. Destabilization is achieved through the discourse of intercultural counter cinema. Laura U. Marks suggests that minor cinema, that is, cinema wishing to both challenge and expand the limits of established and accepted historical discourse, must do so within the parameters of the prevailing discourse it wishes to challenge10. She asserts that “[d]iscourses are not only restrictive but enabling. While they limit what can be said, they also provide the only language in which to say it. In order to find expression, emerging thoughts and things must speak in the terms of the discourses that are established, though at the same time they break away from them”11.

Dominant cultural, political and historical discourses are often alluded to cinematically through dominant filmmaking practices, codes of representation built around classical narrative cinema. Peter Wollen in his 1972 essay Godard and Counter-Cinema states that this classical style can be categorized by narrative transitivity, whereby the narrative flows progressively; identification, either with a central character or characters; transparency of cinematic techniques; a single diegesis, that is to say, an individual world in which time and space follow logical, unbroken sequencing; closure and pleasure. Hukkle, in accordance with Marks, utilizes the established language of genre cinema. The film incorporates ← 227 | 228 → traditional components from the thriller genre in which “[t]he viewers are motivated by narrative suspense to figure out why the murders occur and how the film will end”12. However, as David Martin-Jones suggests of minority cinema, Hukkle “takes a major cinematic voice and makes a minor use of it, making it stutter or stammer”13.

The process of making minor use of a major cinematic voice in Hukkle is achieved through the de-centering of narrative. The film’s central mariticidal narrative is far from explicit and, throughout, narrative elements are shrouded under the surface of the traditional imagery of country life, described by Anikó Imre as “aesthetic distractions”14. Indeed, György Kalmár states: “[i]t takes time till one realizes that there is a narrative, or at least there can be a narrative, established among the various pictures of plants, animals, inanimate objects and people”15. Hukkle, while adhering to the logic of cause-and-effect narrative structuring, eschews narrative linearity. The digressive rural imagery utilized throughout the film serves to retard narrative progression and render narrative connectivity indistinct.

Furthermore, scenes of narrative significance blend seamlessly into the juxtaposing rural imagery in such a way that narrative development becomes unclear. The scene in which the midwife (Mrs. József Rácz) picks lilies provides a fitting example. This scene, removed from the narrative, appears to present a very romantic image of the countryside. The midwife sings to herself as she leisurely picks lilies; the sky is blue, birds sing, crickets chirp and bees buzz as the camera slowly roams around the field to reveal a passing stork, which then takes flight. Preceding this scene, we see time-lapsed shots of the lilies growing. Initially, the hastened growth of the lilies appears to provide further evidence in support of the theory that Hukkle presents village life as Edenic, in that the land appears as if to be yielding of itself. However, it is only in light of later scenes that the significance of the lilies is made apparent. In subsequent scenes, the midwife is seen decanting an ominous white liquid into small bottles and, later still, we observe her distributing them among the womenfolk on the production line of a clothing factory. Following this, we see several different women adding the mysterious liquid to ← 228 | 229 → food, which is then served to their husbands who, shortly thereafter, die. Thus, despite Hukkle’s lack of explicit narrative statements, it may be inferred that the poison used to systematically kill off the village’s male population has its roots in the lilies picked by the midwife.

The film also de-centers narrative through characterization. Classical narrative cinema traditionally utilizes character motivations as a means of advancing the plot. Hukkle, alternatively, complicates such notions by lacking a central character who we follow in pursuit of their goals. The one character who may perhaps be identified as the film’s central protagonist is the hiccupping man who features recurrently throughout the narrative and whose hiccups serve as the motivation for the film’s title16. However, he is conspicuous in his lack of action and for the film’s duration he sits and observes the world as it passes him by17. Additionally, Hukkle’s more active characters, the women who poison their kin do so without emotion, show neither remorse nor concern of reprisal, their murderous deeds are carried out with the same nonchalance as their daily chores and tasks. Consequently, the audience is denied any real emotional engagement. Estrangement is furthered by the lack of dialogue, which restricts subjectivity and, as such, we learn nothing of the women’s motivations.

Thus, while utilizing dominant genre conventions, Hukkle positions itself in opposition to the dominant language of cinematic narration that, as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer suggest, “train[s] those exposed to it to identify film directly with reality”18. Adorno and Horkheimer argue that classical narrative cinema, cinema based around immersion and character identification, ultimately reduces the spectator to a state of passivity by nullifying individual imagination and spontaneity. Hukkle instead encourages active spectatorship; the film’s complex narrative structure necessitates attentive participation on the part of the spectator who is encouraged to piece together its dislocated narrative strands into a cohesive whole19. Through the film’s de-centered narrative configuration, Pálfi ← 229 | 230 → encourages his audience to attentively scrutinize the film’s representation of rural Hungary to reveal the true horrors of the film’s mariticidal narrative.

By utilizing a mode of representation that advocates critical spectatorship, Hukkle shares the political motivations of Bertolt Brecht’s epic theater. In accordance with the Brechtian alienation effect, a theatrical concept that seeks to heighten its audience’s perception of the constructed nature of social reality through the artificiality of the theater, Hukkle seeks to emphasize the devised nature of revisionist historiography within post-communist Hungary. Analogous to Brecht’s notion of epic theater, Pálfi employs methods of distanciation via the film’s disjointed narrative and refusal of affective character identification to induce a social and political response from its audience. In doing so, Hukkle encourages its audience to question more than just the rose-tinted representation of village life, the film guides the spectator toward wider social and political contemplation.

It is through Hukkle’s formal arrangement that the audience is encouraged to question the idyllic representation of the rural that the film establishes from its outset. As György Kalmár rightly observes “[m]edium shots – which follow the heritage of Renaissance portrait-painting, framing the person’s upper body, staging the human figure as central focus-point of artistic representation – are conspicuously rare in this film”20. Kalmár suggests that the film’s deviation from traditional cinematic language positions Hukkle as a cinematic counter memory and, indeed, this is a valid argument. I would further this claim by suggesting that Hukkle’s formal language provides the spectator with a perspective through which to scrutinize the ostensibly Edenic images presented. The film’s magnified visual style, predominantly made up of close-up imagery and amplified audio, functions as symbolic device that foregrounds active cinematic engagement on the part of the audience. Through heightened cinematography and audio, Hukkle accentuates the seemingly banal, drawing attention to that which would otherwise go unheeded and in doing so directs the audience to consider the film’s more intimate details21. The probing, close-up imagery provides a means of looking beyond the surface, a form of observation that transcends the superficially idyllic vision of village life to unveil its true nature.

Indeed, the film opens with a sequence literally taken from a perspective underneath the surface. Before we are introduced to the village, we are presented with an extreme close-up shot of a snake. The image does not focus upon its head but ← 230 | 231 → instead an indeterminate section of its body. The chiaroscuro lighting suggests that the image is taken below the surface as natural light flickers from above, drawing attention to the texture of the snake’s scales. After a few seconds, the snake begins to unfurl, the amplified audio further emphasizing this motion. The image cuts to several similar close-up shots taken from indistinct sections of the snake’s body. These shots serve to give priority to smaller details that would be lost through more traditional framing. Only then do we see the snake’s head as it emerges from the rocks. It can be argued that the snake, like the serpent whose deception ultimately cast Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, serves to disrupt the illusionary Eden that the film will proceed to portray through the representation of the village. However, it is not the snake itself that holds significance but rather the way it is presented. Through the subterranean cinematography utilized in the depiction of the snake, Pálfi creates a visual metaphor in which audiences are encouraged to look beyond the surface of the film’s ostensibly paradisiacal vision of village life to reveal the darker realities that these images conceal.

Penetrative perspectives and those taken from positions beneath the surface become a recurring motif throughout the film. It is from a shot in which the camera descends into the water as it follows a piece of bait cast by a fisherman that we are first made aware of the body that lies undetected in the river. Through penetrative motion, the camera breaches the soil to reveal a mole as it tunnels below the earth. We later see the accelerated germination of a lily seed which begins underground and then erupts through the earth to the surface. Yet, perhaps the most conspicuous of these sequences is the scene in which a fisherman returns home with his catch. His wife prepares the fish but only the husband eats. The camera tilts upward from a medium close-up shot of the fisherman’s plate and slowly pans around the room, revealing the rest of the family watching the man as he dines. The camera proceeds to tilt downward, reframing the fisherman as he consumes a spoonful of food. During this motion, the shot transforms into an X-ray image of his skull as he chews and swallows. The camera follows the mouthful of swallowed food down his throat to his stomach when the image then transitions to an X-ray photograph on a hospital wall. The repeated use of subterranean and/or penetrative, permeative cinematography reiterates the visual metaphor established at the very beginning of the film, emphasizing the need to look beyond the superficial, surface details that shroud the more disagreeable secrets that the villagers possess. Akin to the political and social philosophy of Brecht’s theater, Hukkle’s visual metaphor holds wider social implications. By encouraging the audience to analyze the film’s Arcadian rural imagery through probing cinematography, Pálfi suggests a need to look beyond the rose-tinted ← 231 | 232 → renderings of history prevalent in contemporary society in order to engage more openly with the harsher realities of the past.

In a similar fashion, many of the key scenes that implicate the womenfolk in the murder of their spouses are shrouded and obscured by elements of the mise-en-scène or other rural imagery that requires the audience to, again, look beyond surface details. For example, we see a man taking his pig to a nearby farm for it to breed. As the pigs copulate, we see the man and another woman watching the animals mate, the man framed in close-up as he drinks a glass of pálinka. The shot cuts to a similar close-up of the woman, her head filling the right side of the frame. The handheld camera conspicuously shifts leftward to a position between the shoulders of both the man and woman and refocuses to capture movement behind a lime green fence. The image cuts to a closer shot that reveals the shadowy figure to be the midwife seen earlier picking lilies. Again, the shot is framed from behind the fence, the shaky, handheld imagery sporadically framed by the unfocused green rails of the fence. Here we see the woman decanting a mysterious chalky liquid into small bottles. What is noteworthy about this sequence is the way in which Pálfi encourages the audience to look beyond the surface detail. Here, we are presented a typical rural scene in which a man takes his pig to stud and the cinematography forces the audience to look beyond it, literally over the shoulders of the man and woman, to reveal vital narrative details that lurk behind the rural imagery, details that pose questions of the film’s bucolic representation of rural life.

A further example can be found in the scene in which another elderly resident hosts a dinner for her family. Again, through detailed close-up imagery, the film depicts a traditional scene in which the woman plucks the feathers of a chicken, chops onions and prepares a roux with strudel flour. The scene’s emphasis on the rich colors and textures of the food recalls Zoltán Huszárik’s Szinbád/Sinbad (1971), a classic of Hungarian cinema and significantly a film about nostalgic reflection. The family enjoy their meal as a bottle of Tokaji wine is passed around the table; it is indeed an image that evokes traditional values centered on the family. The old woman does not join them at the dinner table and instead attends to her husband’s meal that must be liquidized. She pours the contents of a plate into the food processor but before transferring the pureed food onto her husband’s plate the image cuts to a shot taken away from the dinner table from a position outside of a window. The handheld camera shoots through a net curtain as we watch the woman reach into the cupboard through the yellow sunflower patterns of the curtain. The image cuts to a close-up of the cupboard, a zoomed shot taken from the same position outside of the window. The woman takes out a small bottle wrapped in newspaper, a bottle similar to those decanted by the midwife seen in ← 232 | 233 → an earlier sequence. She tips a capful of the liquid into the blender and returns to the table emptying the contents of the food processor onto her husband’s plate. Again, the film presents a key narrative moment reticently, cloaking the scene behind elements of mise-en-scène that necessitate we look beyond the surface and behind the facade of traditional rural life.

Throughout Hukkle, Pálfi continuously undermines the illusion of Arcadia initially presented by encouraging his audience to look beyond the surface of the bucolic rural imagery through the film’s probing and penetrative cinematography. In doing so, Pálfi seeks to challenge the dominant discourse of historical remembrance. By destabilizing the Arcadian representation of rural life, Hukkle seeks to contest prevalent post-communist historical mythologies built around restorative nostalgia, myths that serve as reactionary and therapeutic responses to what Vladimir Tismaneanu describes as “the sentiments of discontinuity, fragmentation, and overall confusion of the post-communist stage”22. Hukkle guides its audience toward the realities that underlie the dominant historical myths through its de-centered mariticidal narrative, suggesting that underneath the heavily idealized rendering of the past lies a more disturbing reality that needs to be addressed and reconciled.


Adorno, Theodor W. and Max Horkheimer. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr. Trans. Edmund Jephcott, 1944. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2002, pp. 94–136.

Bodó, Béla. “The Poisoning Women of Tiszazug.” Journal of Family History, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2002, pp. 40–59.

Boym, Svetlana. The Future of Nostalgia. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Hockenos, Paul. Free to Hate: The Rise of the Right in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Imre, Anikó. Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: MIT Press, 2009.

Kalmár, György. “Body Memories, Body Cinema: The Politics of Multi-Sensual Counter-Memory in György Pálfi’s Hukkle.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Vol. 55, 2013. (13 May 2014). ← 233 | 234 →

Kaufman, Anthony. “György Pálfi’s “Hukkle,” the Hungarian Hiccup Heard Around the World.” Indiewire. 26 November 2003. (13 January 2016).

Kiss, Csilla. “From Liberalism to Conservatism: The Federation of Young Democrats in Post-Communist Hungary.” East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2002, pp. 739–763.

Marks, Laura U. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses. Durham, North Carolina; London, England: Duke University Press, 2000.

Martin-Jones, David. Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

Némedi, Dénes. “Remarks on the Role of Peasants in the Hungarian Ideology.” Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1995, pp. 67–75.

Réthly, Ákos, Ed. In the Shadow of Stalin’s Boots: Visitor’s Guide to Memento Park. Budapest: Private Planet Books, 2010.

Tismaneanu, Vladimir. Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and the Myth in Post-Communist Europe. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Wollen, Peter. “Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d`Est.” Afterimage, Vol. 4, 1972, pp. 6–17.

1 Memento Park is an outdoor museum housing communist-era public sculptures and monuments. The museum is situated on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital.

2 Quoted in Ákos Réthly, In the Shadow of Stalin’s Boots: Visitor’s Guide to Memento Park (Budapest: Private Planet Books, 2010), p. 6.

3 Congruously, the film evokes comparisons to a wide variety of international films. Hukkle exhibits the intricately elaborate aesthetics of French filmmaker, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, as seen in films such as Delicatessen (Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991) and Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain/Amélie (2001). The film’s documentary approach and vignette style depiction of the daily lives of a small insular community is reminiscent of Ermanno Olmi’s L’albero degli zoccoli/The Tree of the Wooden Clogs (1978). The emphasis placed upon the local flora and fauna recalls Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennau’s documentary, Microcosmos: Le peuple de l’herbe/Microcosmos: The Grass People (1996). Hukkle also shares the ambiguous suggestion of murder akin to Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966) and even incorporates stylistic parallels to Dziga Vertov’s Chelovek s kino-apparatom/Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

4 See Bodó (2002) and Kalmár (2013) for further details.

5 Laura U. Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Durham, North Carolina and London: Duke University Press, 2000), p. 25. While Hukkle does not necessarily focus upon a colonial history, the film’s challenge to dominant forms of historical memory nevertheless draws parallels to the motivations of intercultural filmmakers.

6 Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001), p. 49.

7 Vladimir Tismaneanu, Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and the Myth in Post-Communist Europe (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 84.

8 See Hockenos (1993), Némedi (1995) and Kiss (2002) for more detailed insight into the romanticizing of the peasantry in Hungarian ideology.

9 Hukkle was shot in the village of Ozora, situated in the north of Tolna County.

10 Minor cinema incorporates diasporic, intercultural, colonized, postcolonial, neo-colonial filmmakers as well as other marginalized groups/individuals striving to broaden the scope of established historical discourse.

11 Marks, The Skin of the Film, p. 28.

12 Anikó Imre, Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: MIT Press, 2009), p. 217.

13 David Martin-Jones, Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), p. 36.

14 Imre, Identity Games, p. 203.

15 György Kalmár, “Body Memories, Body Cinema: The Politics of Multi-Sensual Counter-Memory in György Pálfi’s Hukkle,” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Vol. 55 (2013), 13 May 2014,

16 Hukkle is an onomatopoeic word.

17 The man’s hiccups serve as a means of connecting the film’s divergent narrative strands, localizing them to a centralized focal point.

18 Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 100.

19 Pálfi himself declared that “the film is an experimental movie that respects the audience.… The film is a game too, and I think, if somebody likes to play, he or she will like my film too. This is not a weird film for me; it only uses a different storytelling system.” Anthony Kaufman, “György Pálfi’s “Hukkle,” the Hungarian Hiccup Heard Around the World,” Indiewire (2003), 13 January 2016,

20 Kalmár, “Body Memories, Body Cinema.”

21 Hukkle was the first Hungarian film to utilize a Dolby Digital Soundtrack.

22 Tismaneanu, Fantasies of Salvation, p. 6.