Form follows function in THE OUTPOST, a spare allegory for the fates of many a dissident or victim of political purges.
Gizella (Mari Nagy), a middle-aged engineer, is informed by superiors that she has been promoted to oversee a field site. The divorced woman bids a bittersweet goodbye to friends and co-workers and embarks for the company outpost. Her train terminates at a filthy mining settlement, where the male
handlers treat the newcomer with scorn and barely-suppressed lust, as Gizella is stripped and her books confiscated. Sullen men pumping a railway handcart convey her far into the snowy mountains. On the way, she glimpses another expedition dragging back what's left of the previous supervisor. Once
a respected scholar, he has sunken into a catatonic stupor. Gizella is given over to a peasant guide who openly pities her during the last stage of the journey. He assures her that he will bring onions every Wednesday, so she won't lose track of what day it is. The outpost turns out to be a
desolate, weasel-infested shack. One man, a remote acquaintance of Gizella, already resides within, half-crazed. Their job is to spend months, perhaps years, pounding pegs into the ground at intervals. The man stays sane by bitterly vowing to outlive the bureaucrats who sent him. Gizella maintains
a positive outlook.
The nation depicted is never named, but could easily pass for Ceaucescu's Romania--or for that matter, any East European dictatorship that shipped innocent citizens to languish in prison camps located in stark hinterlands. With THE OUTPOST, director Peter Gothar distills the essence of internal
exile in a socialist dictatorship--the faceless "company" for whom everyone works. It's a feature-length escort to a bleak limbo, with only the slightest embroidery of Kafkaesque metaphor. What keeps it from utter despair is the quietly determined heroine who, enigmatically, holds onto hope when
none seems present. Leading lady Mari Nagy, one of Hungary's foremost stage actresses, is on screen for the entire film, but must contend with the severe script, which keeps the heroine's background and personality as vague as possible. (Substance abuse, nudity, adult situations)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: Form follows function in THE OUTPOST, a spare allegory for the fates of many a dissident or victim of political purges. Gizella (Mari Nagy), a middle-aged engineer, is informed by superiors that she has been promoted to oversee a field site. The divorced… (more)