Review: Children of Glory (4/5)

Children of Glory (2006) (IMDB, Amazon), or Szabadság, szerelem, as the original is named, is about Karcsi Szabó (Iván Fenyö), a member of the Hungarian Olympic water polo team. How he meets Viki Falk (Kata Dobó), falls in love with her, gets involved in the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union and finally goes to the Olympics to play the Soviet Union water polo team in what will become known as one of the bloodiest matches in the history of water polo.

You can read the whole review by clicking the below link, but there may be spoilers in that text…

This is a touching story about a man and his courage to stand up not only against a Soviet Union invasion power, but also his peers in the water polo team, and his parents. It may sound funny to compare a few guys in a water polo team with the Soviet Union but the closer to you people are, the more important their opinions of you become.

This movie reminds me a bit of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005). It involves revolting against a superior power and an interrogation we all know can only end in one way. There are, however, differences between the two movies. Sophie Scholl is a close-knit dialog drama depicting, among others the the futility of resistance, while Children of Glory does the opposite, giving us a shimmer of hope even though the end is grim.

On the negative side the tag line and plot excerpts for this movie talks about a water polo match between Hungarians and Soviets, however the match becomes secondary to lots of other events. I am still not certain this is a bad thing, however in my opinion (as can also be concluded from the presentation of the movie) it is about so much more than just a water polo match. The movie the tag lines talk about would have been different, beginning with the match with flashbacks and dialog about the rest of the events (the revolt against the Soviet Union, their withdrawal, the few days of freedom and subsequent Soviet recapture of Hungary).

Putting the polo match in the center when advertising this movie actually sells it short because it is about so much more than just sports. It is, in fact, not about sports at all. The polo match is the Hungarians last way of resisting the Soviets and it becomes politics, even freedom fighting. The team and team spirit is the expression of conformity and how conformity, a psychological force often quoted to be the cause of such evils as the Holocaust, lynch mobs and civil obedience to dictatorships in general, can, when used well, accomplish something good and inspiring.

The movie breathes an air of futile hope. Even if you do not know the outcome from the start you will probably understand a bad ending is in its making. If not from the weapons being distributed, by the Hungarian resistance, to anybody who wants them, then the fate of Imi (Tamás Keresztes) who, while trying to free fellow rebels at the radio station, are gunned down by Hungarian security forces and becomes one of the first victims in the movie.

Karcsi’s mother cannot see why her son should fight for freedom when his life is at risk. She wants him to concentrate on the Olympics while his father has a more patriotic view and even though he never riles his son up, he isn’t too sorry he is fighting for the freedom of his country.

Even though there never was a Karcsi Szabó in the Hungarian water polo team, the movie reflects actual events both in Hungary and the Melbourne 1956 Olympics. I gave this movie a 4 out of 5, even though it was a weak four…

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