White Palms: The freedom of movement
by Anne Feuillère
Szablocs Hadju’s film won awards for Best Actor, Best Photography, Best Producers, Best Editing and the Gene Moskowitz Award from the foreign press – a real success for this representative of the Hungarian "nouvelle vague" (see Special Report on Hungary).
An autobiographical film, based on the story of his brother, gymnast Zoltán Miklós Hadju, who here plays the leading role of Dongo, White Palms is built upon an astonishing chronological structure. While the story takes place in the present, when Dongo arrives in Canada to train young athletes, long sequences portray his childhood as a little "monkey." In a gym, little Dongo (Orion Radies) goes through tough physical training with iron-willed discipline. The talented child is also subjected to the madness of the adults around him, from his family to his trainer, practically a dictator.
In an effort to escape this childhood violence and find a job in the circus, Dongo has to deal with a double failure that the director films in alternate scenes: the first is in the past when he tries to run away from home and the gym for the first time; the second is in the present, in a battle between him and the young Canadian champion he is training.
Through this temporal structure that links the past and the present, with a camera that never neglects the protagonist’s point of view, and ensemble shots that capture the body’s movements, Hadju films the powerful energy that drives an individual’s destiny.
Although White Palms portrays a lost childhood and a country in which dictatorship plays a role in all spheres of life, it also captures the underlying currents that allow an individual to come to terms with his past.
(Translated from French)
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