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Both Atkins and King laugh incredulously when thinking back on the chaotic Hungarian shoot. Virtually everything that was promised — English-speaking extras, film processing equipment, editing rooms — were suddenly unavailable.
“I had to bring in a sound crew from Amsterdam, the camera package from Munich, actors from Western Europe and America,” says Atkins. “Our production designer, Laszlo Rajk, had to play the sympathetic commandant. He was an underground activist. He would disappear for five days at a time, and we didn’t know if he was in a jail cell!”
King fondly recalls the liquor truck that would pull up early every morning alongside the food truck, resulting in plenty of soused extras, “but that was OK, because they'd look like they’d just gone through a march,” he chuckles. On another jarring day, he says, 500 extras on loan from the army, who were supposed to be dressed as civilians, showed up in the same off-gray uniform.
Still, bitter as some of the screw-ups were, King, Atkins and crew never forgot that the cost of production would have skyrocketed had Forced March been shot in the states.
“It looks like a $30 million movie and it was made for under $3 million,” says Bardosh.
Atkins always regretted the film’s disappearance. But it wasn’t until the advent of digital delivery sites like Netflix and iTunes that he entertained the thought of re-releasing it. And it wasn’t until Bardosh invited the owner of Quad Cinema to speak at his class, and then introduced him to Atkins, that the idea became a reality.
“I’ve always had the copyright,” says Atkins. “I had one Laserdisc copy and one print. I made a transfer from the LaserDisc to DVD, and made the edits I wanted to, and that’s what the owner of the Quad saw.” Soon after, he netted a deal with digital distributor The Orchard, which will soon be supplied with the print transfer.
Given the rise of the openly anti-Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary — taking up a large minority in Parliament today — the timing is, at last, perfect for Forced March’s release. This short but hopefully resonant opening will also arrive on the heels of a new Holocaust-related film, Aftermath, dealing with the complicity of anti-Semitic Poles in the 1941 pogroms.
King, Atkins, and Bardosh seem equally happy with the small changes. Before its initial wrap, Atkins and King debated whether to end the film with silence or a poem voiceover. They opted for the latter, which upset Atkins’s father. (“Now, he has the ending he wanted,” Atkins beams.)
Cut entirely was a scene set at a burlesque nightclub, mostly because the mention of East and West German borders seemed outdated. But also, “there’s nudity in the scene, which is not appropriate for children at all,” says Bardosh. “I enjoyed it myself, but this film should be a Holocaust studies collection for kids, so for the sake of longevity, it’s best to cut it.”Follow @VoiceFilmClub
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