In this fast paced age of modern technology, global telecommunications and a dizzying array of multi-media platforms, it can be easy to forget that less than a hundred years ago life was very different. The quiet life of living in the wilderness still appeals to many. Whilst the opportunities to do so in a developed country are extremely limited, not so long ago it was a way of life for many. Stephen Szőts’ beautiful film People of the Mountains is a simplistic and mesmerising tale of rural life.
In a small farming community in the Transylvanian mountains a poor woodcutter (János Görbe) ekes out a meagre existence from the land. He lives a contented yet simple life along with his wife (Alice Szellay) and young son. For centuries people have freely lived and worked on the land. This tranquillity is shattered when a logging company arrives and claims ownership. To avoid being an outlaw the woodcutter agrees to work for the lecherous manager (Oszkár Borovszky), triggering a chain of events which pulls the family apart.
Released in 1942, People of the Mountain was censored by the Nazis for being communist propaganda. Despite this, it won the Biennale Award at the Venice Film Festival. The cinematography is simply beautiful, making you long for the mountains and countryside. It’s a tragic tale which is told at a gentle pace. Using mainly untrained actors, it feels extremely authentic, tugging softly at the heartstrings whilst drawing you in to the screen.
People of the Mountains is released on DVD by Second Run on Monday.