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Film / The Annunciation

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The Annunciation (or Angyali udvozlet) is a 1984 Hungarian film by Andras Jeles (father of Son of Saul director László Nemes). It is essentially an adaptation of the classic Hungarian play The Tragedy of Man (Az ember tragédiája) by Imre Madách... performed entirely by a cast of prepubescent children.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve (Peter Bocsor and Julia Mero) live peacefully until their new neighbor Lucifer (Eszter Gyalog) shows up and convinces Eve to eat an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, breaking one of the few rules imposed by God. Afraid that she will be banished and that God will give Adam a new wife, Eve convinces Adam to eat from the tree as well, and thus they are both banished from Eden. Bitter at the hardships they face in the world beyond and plagued by visions of the future (a consequence of eating the apple), Adam demands that Lucifer help him make sense of his visions, and thus begins a journey through time and space as Lucifer shows Adam visions of Ancient Egypt, Athens, Rome, Byzantium, Prague, post-revolutionary Paris, and Victorian London, and Adam witnesses the brutality that underlines human history.

Reportedly, Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics saw this movie and left rather unimpressed by it. This inspired him to make an Animated Adaptation of the play that took near thirty-years to make. For that, see The Tragedy of Man.

This film contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Lucifer is charming and playful at first. He becomes much colder later on.
  • Anachronism Stew: Due to the Stylistic Suck at work throughout the film, the costumes and scenery only occasionally match the time period that the scene is meant to depict.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Johannes Kepler and his wife are both miserable because he can't afford to keep up the lifestyle to which she is accustomed.
  • Babies Ever After: At the end, as a distraught Adam questions how he can go on when he's seen everything that lies in store for mankind, Eve reveals that she's pregnant, which inspires Adam to pull his shit together.
  • Break the Cutie: Lucifer's goal is to push Adam into despair so that he and Eve will kill themselves.
  • Church Militant: The Byzantium segment is implied to take place during the Siege of Antioch in 1098, during which the Crusaders attacked a Muslim city. At one point during this segment, Tancred meets with the Patriarch, who rapturously spells out what the "Church of Love" will do to the unbelievers when they take the city.
  • Crapsaccharine World: A major theme of the film (and the play upon which it is based) is that human progress consistently outpaces morality, leading to brutality.
    Lucifer: You know nothing of the enormous latrine over which God has built His mansion.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Lucifer is played by a 12-year-old girl, and alternates between being adorably precocious and goddamned disturbing.
    • And then there's Death, portrayed as a grimy little boy just waiting on the outskirts of Eden.
  • Deadly Euphemism: In the "Prague" sequence, one character asks "Who's warming themselves up yonder?" He is referring to someone being burned at the stake on a nearby hill.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: In his initial appearance, Lucifer pulls a number of childish tricks to endear himself to Adam and Eve.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since the play is based on history and Adam's various incarnations are almost all historical figures, anyone with a sufficient background in history would know how the various sequences play out.
  • Heroic BSoD: Towards the end of the film, Adam, overcome with despair after seeing how humanity is incapable of doing away with brutality, falls into a deep depression.
  • Mouth To Mouth Force Feeding: Eve ensures that Adam shares her damnation by pushing chewed-up apple bits in his mouth while kissing him. In this case, at least, he is aware of what will happen and accepts it, as he loves Eve and does not want to lose her.
  • Naked First Impression: The film offers an inversion, as Lucifer is the first being that Adam and Eve encounter who actually wears clothing.
  • Naked on Arrival: Adam and Eve are both completely nude when they first appear.
  • Never My Fault: Lucifer blames God for his banishment, telling Adam and Eve that God is unreasonable. After his banishment, Adam takes on a similar attitude, convinced that God is merely holding mankind back.
  • Satan: Lucifer is for all intents and purposes Satan, although here his evil is portrayed as a result of immaturity than outright malevolence.
  • Satellite Character: Eve and her various incarnations exist primarily to guide Adam's current incarnation into a realization of the flaws in each era (the slave girl causes Djoser to realize just how much his empire relies on slavery, Isaura exposes the heartlessness that underlines the church that Tancred defends, the noblewoman shows Danton just how brutal and uncompromising his revolution is, etc.) Most of her incarnations don't even have names, whereas almost all of Adam's incarnations are historical personages.
  • Stylistic Suck: The cast is made up entirely of young children with little if any theatrical training, the costumes are whatever the crew could scavenge, and the sets are just old ruins. All of this is likely intentional.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Throughout Adam's visions, Lucifer appears as an adviser or confidant to ensure that Adam always sees the worst parts of every era they visit.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The entire film basically runs on this trope, as the viewer watches young children acting out scenes of violence and sensuality, albeit in more age-appropriate ways (Lucifer's seduction of Eve, for example, is depicted as an impish kiss on the cheek.)
  • Writer on Board: Imre Madach, the playwright behind The Tragedy of Man, was going through a rough divorce when he wrote the play, which may account for its treatment of Barbara Kepler.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Danton segment ends with Danton's fellow revolutionaries turning on him.