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Animation / Háry János

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Háry János is a 1983 Hungarian animated made-for-TV musical directed by Zsolt Richly. It adapts Zoltán Kodály's 1926 folk opera (itself based on János Garay's 1843 comic epic Az obsitos or The Veteran) and tells about one of the titular hero's many adventures, through his own (not necessarily totally truthful) words.

János Háry is a legendary hussar forced into border guard duty on his wedding day. There he happens across and proves his badassery to Napoléon Bonaparte's wife Marie Louise and elicits the jealousy of her chamberlain... one thing leads to another, János ends up fighting and beating Napoleon's entire French army, enamors himself to Marie, all the while mastering any challenge with ease, consuming huge amounts of fried chicken and wishing nothing more than to be with his betrothed Örzse.


Not to be confused with the theatrical film Johnny Corncob by the same studio, which has a vaguely similar premise, also stars a hussar named János and inspired some of this film's ideas — Corncob's director Marcell Jankovics worked on this film as the head of animation, and elements of his trademark visual style are very much in evidence.

Háry János provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Gyula Szabó, classic folk tale storyteller and narrator of the show Hungarian Folk Tales plays the title character.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Inverted compared to the stage plays, both female characters have nude scenes.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: The story does take place in Napoleon's time.
  • Art Shift: The Book-Ends, the only parts of the story that we can be sure truly happened, use a sketchy, monochrome animation style and are far less cartoonish and far more detailed than Háry's tale.
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  • Backwards-Firing Gun: János blocks and backfires Napoleon's gun with his bare palm.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Subverted, the hussars in the beginning spur their horses till they bleed when they rampage across the village, but it turns out they're on Háry's side.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted; the first act after the into starts out with a very lengthy full frontal nude scene as Örzse gets dressed for her wedding. Later repeated with Marie Louise.
  • Book-Ends: The film starts and ends with János telling his tall tale to the audience while smoking and drinking in an inn.
  • Creator Thumbprint: This is not a Marcell Jankovics film (see: Johnny Corncob, Son of the White Horse, The Tragedy of Man and many episodes of Hungarian Folk Tales), he only worked on the animation. People sometimes mistake it for one regardless, because it carries his Signature Style: fluid animation design, Metaphoric Metamorphosis, old traditional folk elements, Hungarian nationalism, unexpected absurd humor, circular compositions, and blatant artistic nudity.
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  • Deranged Animation: Somewhat downplayed and unevenly utilized compared to the studio's similar works, but the film still has plenty of abstract sequences, stemming from the already rather absurd stage play.
  • Dirty Coward: Napoleon, though who can blame him when he's going up against János Háry? Also Knight Ebelastin, Marie's spineless chamberlain who wants to undermine János through his schemes.
  • Downer Ending: After János and Örzse finally get together following 8 years of unwanted ordeals on foreign soil, János informs the viewer in the epilogue that Örzse died not long thereafter.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Our hero. The hussars looking for him in the beginning also cause an ugly ruckus in his village.
  • Horsing Around: János is challenged to tame the furiously violent steed Lucifer. Massive rodeo-rampage ensues.
  • Human Snowball: Marie Louise's entire French carriage and even the Russian border booth get caught in a giant one.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Knight Ebelastin.
  • Miles Gloriosus: In Hungary, Háry's name is synonymous with the trope.
  • The Musical: It is an opera play adaptation, after all. Much time is spent on singing and dancing to fill out the mere one hour running time.
  • The Napoleon: Bonaparte himself.
  • Patchwork Map: The Moldovan-Russian border. One side's permanently frozen over and snowy, the other is so hot that any ice that crosses the border immediately melts.
  • Remaster: Done in 2017.
  • Shout-Out: Possibly, to Jankovics's earlier Johnny Corncob. Both feature extremely similar scenes where armies opposing the French literally get rolled up: the Turkish army gets flattened and rolled into a carpet, while the Austrian army get tangled up in a map as big as the battlefield itself. The difference is that this time the demolished army is on the hussars' side.
  • Slapstick: Used a lot, one standout being the Russian border guard disastrously failing to eat a frozen dumpling that bounces impossibly around the place.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Russia, where everything is constantly frosty.
  • Smoking Is Cool: János, the nonchalant badass, almost always has a pipe near his mouth when not on duty.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: János loves fried chicken, eating them up in a single gulp. Though when he's presented with a giant two-headed eagle sculpture made of meat (along with Marie Louise's hand to marry), he's disgusted by the offering and would rather eat something traditional that reminds him of home.
  • Unreliable Narrator: János Háry. The fantastical plot is all related by him.

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