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The Interpreter

The Interpreter

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© 2018 IN Film Praha s.r.o., Titanic, Coop 99, Česká televize, RTVS - Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska
Director:
Martin Šulík

Screenplay:
Marek Leščák, Martin Šulík

Cinematographer:
Martin Štrba


Cast:
Jiří Menzel, Peter Simonischek, Eva Kramerová, Anna Rakovská and others

Eighty-year-old interpreter Ali Ungár comes across a book by a former SS officer, in which the author describes his wartime activities in Slovakia. Ali realises one of the passages probably recounts the execution of his parents. He sets out to visit the former SS-man living in Vienna. But instead of the murderer of his parents, Ali finds only the Nazi’s seventy-year-old son. Georg is a former teacher struggling with alcohol addiction, who had distanced from his father’s past throughout his entire life. However, the interpreter’s visit stirs his curiosity, and so he decides to find out who exactly his father was before he dies. And thus the two old men – the ascetic Ali and the bon-vivant Georg – embark on a mutual journey in an attempt to find surviving witnesses of the wartime tragedy. Their different views of the world and dissimilar life experiences create a bittersweet tension, thus sometimes adding a comical touch to this journey of two elders troubled by health problems.

Together, they are discovering a country that wants to forget about its own past. They meet people from various generations, of different professions and with diverse perspectives: masseuses in spas without any interest in the past, surviving relatives of wartime casualties struggling to forget about the tragedy, but also grandsons of war criminals trying to justify the deeds of their ancestors. Little by little, they build a mosaic picture of a Central-European country that is changing dynamically, yet one that is still hiding somewhere deep down the unresolved conflicts, which the present day brings back to life in a new form.

Ali and Georg realise that despite their utter differences – cultural, social, and psychological – they are equally painfully affected by the wartime tragic events. In a  way, they have both lost their parents, both tried to break free from the past, and both constructed a false image of themselves. Towards the end of their search, they eventually find out that even the actual circumstances of the death of Ali’s parents were somewhat different…

At the end of their journey, they start to silently understand and respect each other. Deep within, they both come to redefine their own identity.