Natural Light

Natural Light

Directed by Dénes Nagy


Set in occupied Soviet Union in April of 1943, the movie covers the events of three days on a territory invaded by the German army and their Hungarian allies. The main character, Sub-lieutenant István Semetka, has been drafted to join a Hungarian partisan-hunting unit. He and his company are marching through an endless swampy forest, moving from village to village. One day, his unit is sent on a mission to a remote village. Over the course of the night, they come under enemy fire, their commander is shot dead, and Semetka must take command. Another Hungarian unit appears unexpectedly, and, taking advantage of the momentary chaos, several villagers manage to escape. The commander of the other Hungarian unit, Lieutenant Mátyás Koleszár, is from the same hometown as Semetka; he takes over command of the whole mission. He rounds up the remaining locals – men, women, and a few children – in the village’s barn, and has the whole thing set on fire with the people inside. Semetka has no chance to intervene. He watches the horrible massacre, paralyzed and powerless. At the end of the film, the decimated unit arrives to a dusty little city. The local Hungarian commander sees that Semetka is in really bad shape and sends him home to his family for a week of rest. Seemingly relieved, following a good night’s sleep, the sub-lieutenant heads home on the crowded train. Semetka is left with his loneliness and shame amidst the mass of discharged soldiers.

Director's Statement

This film talks about me. Me, as a father and as a Hungarian citizen. HU/BE/LV March 1943. A Hungarian soldier is sent on a mission where he witnesses a mass murder. NATURAL LIGHT is about making decisions in a morally ambiguous world. Attending the market: Dénes Nagy Marcell Gerő 46 | CineLink 2018 CineLink 2018 | 47 CineLink Projects 2018 For as long as I can remember, I have been an optimist. But now I’m starting to feel that I might be living in a time when things are gradually becoming worse. The most difficult thing for me is to recognize that my strong convictions of right and wrong are starting to evaporate. This is not a war film. No grenades or bombs. We watch the faces of soldiers during their daily routine as they enter the unknown. Can you exonerate yourself if you were never the cause of anything bad happening around you? So far, I have mostly worked with amateur actors, and I will continue doing so in this film as well: looking amidst pig and cow farms, finding immensely tired men surrounded by animals and nature. I believe that by finding and observing these faces, the film will enter a different dimension – a dimension that sustains that ambiguity between beauty and horror, lovable and repulsive, specific and universal.



    Marcell Gerő