On the face of it, communism doesn’t exactly seem like the ideal breeding ground for feminism to flourish. Whilst everyone was theoretically equal in the USSR, many rich old white men were more equal than other. The narrative pushed by the authorities was that of the heroic Marxist worker, dedicating their life to making the country stronger and better. Invariably that was a man. Márta Mészáros’ 1975 film Adoption is a rare example of the feminist voice within Soviet Hungarian filmmaking.
Kata (Katalin Berek) is a fortysomething factory worker who has decided that this is her last chance to have a child. The problem is, the man she is in love with (Flóra Kádár) is married with two children and has no intention of having another. While she’s in the process of looking into adoption she befriends Anna (Gyöngyvér Vigh), a troubled and rebellious teenager from the local institute; an orphan herself. They form a bond and embark on their own quiet rebellion.
Adoption is a thoughtful and intelligent drama about two women attempting to live their lives despite the obstacles put in their way by men. Mészáros became the first woman to win the Golden Bear at Berlin, and you can see why. Berek and Vigh are both excellent but it’s the direction that is the real winner. Their trials and tribulations are beautifully captured in studied monochrome. Adoption is an intriguing portrait of loneliness and resistance, the echoes of which still resonate today.
- Presented from a new director-approved 4K restoration created by the National Film Institute Film Archive, Hungary,and supervised by the film’s cinematographer Lajos Koltai.
- A new introduction to the film by Márta Mészáros (2021).
- A Conversation with Márta Mészáros (2009): an archival interview with the director.
- 16-page booklet with new writing on the film by journalist and critic Carmen Gray.
- New and improved English subtitle translation.
Adoption is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 12 July.