Despite what we might be led to believe, for the most part soldiering involves a lot of waiting around and generally doing very little other than simply being somewhere. This, for obvious reasons, does not often make for scintillating entertainment. Unsurprisingly then, most films that hit our screens either greatly lesson this aspect of war or remove it entirely. In favour of more explosion, brutality or fighting. Natural Light, on the other hand, uses this tedium and rigmarole as its base.
István Semetka (Ferenc Szabó) is a simple farmer who finds himself a corporal in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II. The Hungarian is part of a special unit tasked with scouting for partisans. On their way to a remote village, they come under fire from enemy troops. Their captain is killed and, much to his chagrin, he has to take charge of the men. Semetka must overcome his fears and lead his battalion as chaos reigns around him.
Natural Light brings the banality, tragedy and barbarity of war into stark relief. Dénes Nagy’s film is a slow-burning drama which gradually builds up tension as Semetka finds himself in increasingly uncomfortable situations. The frigidity and loneliness of war is captured beautifully by Tamás Dobos’s rich black and white cinematography. Following one man’s journey as part of a much bigger machine he neither understand nor has any control over. Natural Light is a thoughtful and studied treatise on the nature of war.
Night Light is released exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema from 12 November.