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Author: Vajda, Judit| Date: 09. 06. 2008. | Type: Article, Essay | Subject: István Szabó | Published: Metropolis - 2003 / 3. - István Szabó

Analysis of the István Szabó film Confidence

Judit Vajda teases out how the film Confidence marks a turn in the career of István Szabó, from the earlier lyrical, subjective films (The Age of Daydreaming, Father, Love Film) towards realism, leading on to the later historical trilogy (Mephisto, Colonel Redl, Hanussen). In this film he leaves out subjective elements and auteurish self-mythologising, in its place constructing a two-person chamber drama.
In Confidence two people brought together by the adversities of the Second World War build a relationship starting from initial suspicion, through finding each other, up until the break-down of their connection. In relation to his earlier creations, in this film the role of history is much more stressed, although it only appears through their personal story. The behaviour of the two main characters gives two possible reactions to the historical circumstances, with the man as a manifestation of suspicion and the woman of trust. The conflict between these two is emphasised outside the thematic conflicts of the film using formal oppositions: contrasting with the intimacy of their relationship is the coldness of the surroundings – dark pictures, often shot from below in scenes illuminated by sharp, harsh lighting – and the flustered, nervous speech of the man opposed by his open, honest gaze.
Viewing the film’s style as a turning point in Szabó’s lifework, this is a realistic film played out in a cramped space, in which every decorative element is left out and which only uses diegetic sounds. The director is already distanced from his subject (we are not dealing with a subjective narrative by this stage), but the close shots and inner monologue are drawing the viewer into the world of the characters. Unlike the earlier films – in which montage had a major place – the editing here serves the feeling of continuousness and fluidity, but however is not the same as the Hollywood-style continuity editing of Mephisto or Sunshine.
Confidence, is in this way possibly a unique work among István Szabó’s films, while it can be seen as a kind of introduction to his later films and organically fits into Szabó’s artistic career.

  • Security, certainty, uncertainty
  • I, you, he, she