Robert Vas – Refuge England (1959)

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The films follows a Hungarian refugee arriving in London, speaking no English and with little money…

IMDB:
Hungarian refugee Tibor Molnar has arrived in England, picking London as his new place of residence. The film follows him as he wanders the centre of his new home and tries to find his lodgings at 25 Love Lane – but with no other information than this and the name of his landlord, he finds himself with a long day of travelling to find which Love Lane it is.

Part of the Free Cinema movement in the late 1950’s and funded by the BFI, this film takes on the story of an immigrant walking the streets of London looking for his new home. Substance wise it is interesting as it is well narrated with some of the fellow’s thoughts but I will admit that it was not as interesting as it really could have been. I cannot imagine that immigration was a welcome thing at the time in England (how things have changed) and the film could have done a better job of challenging the audience but, while it does this a little, it is far too gentle to be really memorable.

The main interest the film offered me beyond this was the change to wander around London with Molnar and the camera; it is funny how different somethings look but then how completely unchanged much of it is. We all live in the same houses and it tends to be just the fashions that have changed. I suppose this also carries over to the attitude of the people since (by implication) the refugees are not totally accepted. Vas’ direction is very good, moving freely and natural around London and capturing the feel of it even if he doesn’t get a depth to his telling.

Interesting piece for film fans as well as for those that like to be able to see how we used to live. Not as fascinating as a challenging character story but still interesting for what it is.

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