The Land of Whips

Mihály Fekete, 1919. Drama on a Russian theme from the golden age of filmmaking in Cluj-Napoca.

Premiere: 25 February 1919 (Színkör-mozgó, Cluj-Napoca)
Genre: feature film, drama, silent film
Director: Mihály Fekete

Original length: 4 acts, its length is unknown.
Only short fragments of the film have survived.

Judit Mendelejeff, a Jewish medical student, is harassed by the police. Under Russian law, a Jewish woman can only attend university if she has certification as a fallen woman. Police officer Fedor Ivanovics is prepared to overlook the offense if the girl does not reject his approaches. However, Judit loves her classmate Iván and says no to the policeman. Fedor and his Cossacks conduct a house search and summon the girl to the police station. One of the Cossacks, Lentovszky, feels a deep sense of attachment to Judit. It turns out that he has a young daughter who is very sick. Judit tries to help the ailing child but it is too late. As she is making her way home, profoundly saddened by the death of the child, Fedor suddenly appears and attacks her. Luckily, Iván happens to be passing and he knocks the policeman down. Cossacks arrest and imprison the young man. Judit begs the police chief to release Iván. The chief refuses to comply and makes an improper advance to Judit. The next day, the police chief falls seriously ill. Judit is called for. In the hope that she can effect Iván’s release, the girl cares for the officer. However, after recovering the police chief still refuses to consider her request and instead begins bullying her again. In desperation, Judit grabs the revolver on the table and shoots the man. After this, she is imprisoned as well. Lentovszky is ordered to escort the prisoners to Moscow. However, the old Cossack is in solidarity with them and helps them escape.

What makes it interesting?
Drama on a Russian theme from the golden age of filmmaking in Cluj-Napoca. The film was reconstructed in 2019 on the basis of surviving on-scene shots, fragments of film reels found in the bequest of playwright, the screenplay and surviving set configuration pages from two days of filming.

Cast & Crew
Production Companies: Transsylvania Filmgyár
Screenwriter: Jenő Gyalui
Cinematographer: László Fekete
Cast: Margit Izsáky, Hugó Kozma, Ödön Réthely, Andor Szakács, Ilonka Jakabffy