Director: Krisztina Goda
Screenwriters: Joe Eszterhas, Eva Gardos, Geza Beremenyi, Reka Divinyi
Running Time: 123 mins Released: Out Now
I had a hard time getting a date for Children of Glory. Surprisingly, nobody was responsive to my offer of a free ticket to see a Hungarian film about water polo and communism. Perhaps I would have had more responses if I knew more about the film – which turns out to be about more than just the oppressed aquatic Olympians. It’s a film about love, revolution and the water sports that inspired a nation.
Children of Glory puts us in the heart of the bloody 1956 Hungarian uprising. It leads us up to the historic Melbourne Olympic match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, but primarily focuses on the unlikely romance of Hungarian water polo star Karsci Szabo (Ivan Fenyo) and sexy revolutionary Viki Falk (Kata Dobo). Szabo and the Hungarian Olympic team provide inspiration and historical perspective, but Viki Falk is completely fictitious, making the central relationship of the film an especially tough sell in spite of actress Kata Dobo’s terrific performance. Eastern European revolutions are exciting enough, but Children of Glory looks and feels more like a Hollywood film than the product of the brilliant new wave movement currently coming out of that part of the world (producer Andrew Vajna has three Rambos and two Terminators to his credit). I’m honestly surprised that they didn’t just make this an English-language film starring Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. Aside from the silly plot devices and slick production, the actual historical topic at hand is interesting enough to make Children of Glory good enough to root for.
Originally penned by Joe Eszerthas, the brain behind such schlock as Sliver, Showgirls, and Basic Instinct, the original script was reworked several times by a larger writing team, and the confusion shows. Featuring graphic images of maimed and disfigured limbs, and startling aerial shots of Budapest getting the bejesus bombed out of it, it is curious that the sex scenes are so soft-core and subdued, highlighting the main dilemma with Children of Glory – the romance just muddles the whole thing up. With its revolution romance tied to a hugely symbolic sporting event, Children of Glory lies somewhere in the “boo to commies” camp between The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Miracle. It’s a big-budget, Hollywood-style film meshing war, love, and sport – what better way to stick it to the reds?