Gyémánt as One, László Gyémánt as
Other, Gyöngyvér Bognár as Mother,
Piroska Molnár as Grandmother,
András Réthelyi as Orderly,
Ulrich Thomsen as Officer,
Orsolya Tóth as Harelip, János
Derzsi as Sutor,
Péter Andorai as Deacon, Miklós
Székely B. as Old homeless,
Krisztián Kovács as Deserter soldier,
Ákos Köszegi as Hungarian officer,
Ulrich Matthes as Father
end of World War II, people in big cities are at the
mercy of air raids and death by starvation. A desperate
young mother leaves her 13‐year‐old twin sons at their
grandmother’s house in the country, despite the fact
that this grandmother is a cruel and bestial alcoholic.
The villagers call her “the Witch” because she is
rumored to have poisoned her husband long ago.
Previously pampered, the twins must learn how to survive
alone in their new, rural surroundings. They realize
that the only way to cope with the absurd and inhumane
world of adults and war is to become completely
unfeeling and merciless.
By learning to free themselves from hunger, pain and
emotion, they will be able to endure future hardships.
So they begin their own series of studies: they fortify
their spirits by reading the Bible and learning foreign
languages. They practice every day to harden their
bodies and minds. They hold their hands over flames, cut
their legs, arms and chests with a knife and pour
alcohol right on their wounds. They desensitize
themselves to insults and learn to ignore the more
insidious appeals of sentiment and love.
The twins keep a written record of all they have
witnessed during the war, Le Grand Cahier. When they
write, they follow their own strict code: The prose must
be free from emotion, the notes precise and objective.
Over time they are initiated into the corruptions and
horrors of a war‐torn world. They have to listen to a
lecherous priest’s hypocritical avowals of faith, they
watch soldiers herd refugees to their death and witness
the selfish cruelties their neighbors inflict on one
As the war ends, the “Liberation” brings the worst
moments of all: their village and their few
relationships are plagued by rape and suicide. Their
mother returns for a brief, gruesome reunion and their
father follows suit in a final tableau involving
patricide and opportunism, leading to the twin’s
Notebook (Hungarian: A nagy füzet) is a 2013 Hungarian
drama film directed by János Szász. It was screened in
the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2013
Toronto International Film Festival. The film has been
selected as the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign
Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards,
making the January shortlist.
An European answer to P. Zimbardo''s Stanford Prison Experiment
29 June 2014 | by matyas-faluvegi (Göteborg)
The Hungarian film directors are often consumed up in photography and do not
care of the story. Thanks God, not here. Agota Kristof''s Le Grand Cahier has
such a strong storyline that it cannot be destroyed. However attempt to do so
can be detected here.
I hope that after a while all directors learn that a book itself is not a
script, they can use movie to tell the story, even leaving out some key elements
of the book.
Some scenes cry that were shot on the same streets, same interiors.
But this is it, that''s why I gave only 8/10, as the film works. It takes you to
a journey where you forget your soda and popcorn and step out to the real word
afterward a bit changed. You know that it can happen. As in the summary, the
circumstances can bring out the evil from everyone. Even 10 year old boys. We
know this since the Lord of the Flies, but it is good to be remembered to it
from time to time...