LAND OF STORMS
directed by Ádám Csász
Following a showing of the film at the Brody film club in Budapest recently the director, Àdàm Csàsz, told a few of us that the film was based on a true story and he elaborated this with a description of the alleged killer’s subsequent (i.e. after the end of the film’s storyline) police investigation, trial, confession and imprisonment. But it sounds too good and too convenient to be true. “Based on a true story”, the director says, but Is the story true or just another imaginary fiction that’s sustains homophobia? Who was the murderer really? Was it his lover in a fit of temporary insanity brought on by the impossibility of reconciling the double bind of homosexual love with being an accepted member of his homophobic village community? Or was it a homophobic blood lust by an other, reflecting a State legitimising its authoritarian strategies through homophobic victimisation.
The film portrays the development of young homosexual love in rural Hungary, the victimisation of the lovers by the rural community, and ultimately tragically the killing of one of the young boys by the other. Said to be based on a true story it is said the young homosexual lover did eventually confess, was found guilty, and is currently still serving a prison sentence.
The film stands as it is and this commentary is not to suggest alternatives or improvements on it but to reflect on other possible truths than the apparent ‘true story’. The ‘true story’ as portrayed by the director, in conversation with us after a showing of the film in Budapest in March 2015, is that at the end of the film Aron the young teenage Hungarian stonemason from the village murders his equally young lover, the (ex) German footballer, and runs away across the fields. Àdàm Csàsz the directors tells us that he was drawn to this tale when he heard of a
grisly murder that involved a love triangle of three boys, clearly a homosexual love triangle ending in death, his researches revealed a trial in which the young Aron initially refused to confess, Àdàm maintains he is convinced of Aron’s guilt because of the opinions of forensic psychiatrists (who also decided Aaron was sane at the time of the killing as well), despite there being no hard evidence. The actual murder was much more brutal than in the film. The victim is hacked to pieces with an axe and burnt in his house.
One could argue that the film could have left the identity of the murderer open to question. There were others with motives. We are also entitled to doubt the confession and guilty verdict. There may have been political pressure to ensure Aron is found guilty since this is then an inter-homosexual killing and not a homophobic killing which if publicised would embarrass the state. I think one can argue that by going along with the guilty verdict the film, perhaps unwittingly, ultimately provides support for the State’s disavowal of the existence of homophobia and misses a further opportunity to challenge and resist it. An enigmatic ending in which possible murderers include the homophobic footballers father, or the girlfriend’s brother might have been a more potent portrayal of the Real of the horror of homophobic hatred. Àdàm told us that Bernard the other German lover was initially a police suspect but had an alibi having left the country before the murder.
An interesting theme here is that of “confession” and in particular Aron’s confession, Aron had, in the film, failed to get his mother to directly confess to betraying his confidences leading to his victimisation by the community. Aron’s confession reminds me of Foucalt’s story “Moi, Pierre Rivière” and the confession of the slaughter of Pierre’s mother, his sister and his brother in 1835. A tale of psychopathology, the law and community. Subsequently made into a film directed by René Allio in 1975. For Foucault confession is important as it legitimises the States power as well as cleansing the State functionaries of any personal guilt. The killing also reminds me of Freud’s case of the psychosis of Daniel Schreber a high court judge who became psychotic in the 1800s and wrote his memoirs of his illness. Freud attributed the illness to a repressed homosexuality, Santner in his book : “My own private Germany” attributes Schreber’s psychotic illness to a crisis of investiture as Schreber fails to cope with the status and power of becoming a high court judge and his psychic traumas and development subsequently reflect the States misogynism and anti-semitism. By extension if Aaron did kill his lover was this the result of his own crisis of investiture as a homosexual by his lover and did the murder reflect the State’s disavowed strategy desire to rid itself of (if not actually murder) homosexuals? And if so could be considered to have suffered a temporary psychotic illness when he killed his lover which might also explain to a degree then brutal nature of the real killing, downplayed in the film.