The Sacrament of the Confession

Jenő Janovics, 1916. Jenő Janovics, father of silent film production in Cluj-Napoca, not only directs but acts in this work.

Premiere: 28 August 1916 (press-view, Mozgókép Otthon), 1 October 1917 (premiere, Omnia)
Genre: silent film
Director: Jenő Janovics

Original length: 4 acts, 1060 m
Lost film.

One evening a distraught man barges into the home of Mátyás Vér, the rural Catholic priest. He urgently wishes to confess. It turns out that his soul is heavy with a murder that he has just committed. The murder is soon discovered in the small town and the priest’s young brother, Imre, is suspected. The priest faces an unresolvable problem of conscience: either he betrays the sanctity of the confessional box and reveals the true murderer, or he sits passively by and sees his innocent brother charged. His faith in God helps him through the coming days. The young man is sentenced to death but his fiancée, who is convinced of his innocence, is not ready to accept the sentence. Using her feminine instincts and love, she sets off to investigate. She tracks down the man seen coming out of the priest’s house on the day of the murder and manages to persuade the prosecutor to interrogate him as well. The distraught man breaks down in court and admits his guilt, thus sparing the innocent young man. The priest’s soul is at peace because he is not the cause of the death of his brother by observing the sacrament given when admitted into the priesthood, that is, the sacrament of the confession.

What makes it interesting?
Jenő Janovics not only directed the film but he played the chief protagonist. The story of the dedicated priest was well received by the Catholic Church. In Szeged, for example, it was reported that many believers visited the cinema to see the film due to the enthusiasm of the head of the church.

Cast & Crew
Production Companies: Proja, Corvin
Writer: Louis N. Parker (play, The Cardinal, 1901)
Screenwriter: Jenő Janovics
Cinematographer: Árpád Virágh
Cast: Jenő Janovics (Mátyás Vér, the priest), Vilmos Lengyel (Imre Vér, mérnök, the priest's brother), Lili Berky (Margit, Imre's bride), Mihály Várkonyi (Margit's other admirer), Elemér Hetényi, Andor Szakács, Ödön Réthely, József Berky, Flóra Fáy, Sándor Farkas, Aranka Laczkó, Miklós Mariházi, Gyula Nagy, Rezső Harsányi, Aladár Ihász, Gyula Dezséri 


Photo: poster by Imre Földes. Source: NFI