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The Prefab People


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Product Details

  • Actors: Judit Pogány, Róbert Koltai, Kyri Ambrus, Jánosné Bráda, János Fábián
  • Directors: Béla Tarr
  • Writers: Béla Tarr
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Hungarian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Facets
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2005
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009HLBY8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,742 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prefab People" on IMDb

Special Features

  • A Cine-Notes booklet w/an essay on Tarr's career and a statement by Bela Tarr

Editorial Reviews

Shot in a gritty, documentary style, this is a relentlessly realistic portrait of a young working-class couple who suffer the everyday stresses of marriage. The film opens with a huge fight between husband and wife, and then examines what brought the couple to this moment. Tarr captures the minute details of daily life, which add up to an empty, lonely, and frustrating existence. As profound as it is disturbing.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Corder on August 4, 2008
Format: DVD
Shot in glorious black and white, this little gem of a film is definitely on a par with Tarr's later work. Caught in a town filled with smokestacks and a maze of project-like housing, the dysfunctional marriage of a young working class couple becomes a metaphor for the problems of modern (1982) Hungarian society and the consumerist world in general. Weaving the sights and sounds of families, beer halls, beauty shops and routine, The Prefab People reveals an earlier Tarr: simple, short and to the point with Herzog/documentary-type images, including a man who plays his lips as if they were a clarinet.

Superb performances by real-life partners, Judit Pogany and Robert Koltai, trick one into feeling like a voyeur. In public and in private, they deal with the stark reality of their seemingly dead end existence. Fights and disappointments, loneliness and a shallow thinness of life fill the screen in painfully long close-ups. A good amount of (mostly live) music adds to the mix. The closing image, the one you see on the cover with the couple riding in the back of a pickup with their newly purchased Minimat 65 washer, glues the episodes of break-up back together with what money can buy. Tarr uses the film's 75 minutes to construct a single movement that revolves on and on, ending at the beginning, churning up the clothes of life in a futile attempt to once and for all get out the dirt... or have we simply arrived in hell for good?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 15, 2010
Format: DVD
The Prefab People (Bela Tarr, 1982)

In 1987, the filmmaker Bela Tarr and the novelist Laszlo Krasznahorkai teamed up for Karozhat, and the result was critical magic, blasting both of them onto the international stage in a partnership that lasts to this day. I don't think it's overstating the case to compare it to the partnership between Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond, except that where Diamond was a comedic master, Krasznahorkai excels at existential despair. In any case, what some people forget is that before the two paired up, both Tarr and Krasznahorkai were prolific in their chosen disciplines; it's just that no one had heard of them outside Hungary. Tarr's pre-Krasznahorkai films are slowly being discovered by the west, and the first one to be readily available is 1982's Panelkapcsolat, or The Prefab People.

As you might expect from the title, this is an overtly political film, far more so than even Satantango, but in that Tarr fashion, he's more interested in the effects of politics on one intimate scene than he is on an entire nation (think Makavejev, for example, as a filmmaker obsessed with the latter). In this case, the scene is a modest Hungarian family who live in a large city. Dad (Memories of a River's Robert Koltai) is a typical office drone-cum-slacker whose greatest desire is for the kind of freedom one finds in, well, Makavejev films (actually, for some reason, I saw him the whole time as a transplanted character from Zabriskie Point, though for the life of me I can't tell you why that is). His wife (Vacsora's Judit Pogany) feels (and is) put-upon, being left to take care of their two young children while dad goes out and carouses.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By RHC on May 14, 2008
Format: DVD
Exhaustive, claustrophobic, circular, discordant, hopeless, weeping, wailing, and a gnashing of teeth, Tarr's camera work and photo direction is powerful (especially during the dance when the wife is sitting, and sitting, and sitting, quietly repressing her pent-up frustrations...), a must-watch short film for Bela Tarr fans.

Though in caves pursued he lie,
Even then he fears attacks.
Coming forth the land to spy,
Even a home he finds he lacks.
Mountain, vale - go where he would,
Grief and sorrow all the same -
Underneath a sea of blood,
While above a sea of flame.

`Neath the fort, a ruin now,
Joy and pleasure erst were found,
Only groans and sighs, I trow,
In its limits now abound.
But no freedom's flowers return
From the spilt blood of the dead,
And the tears of slavery burn,
Which the eyes of orphans shed.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kresimir Godina on October 11, 2005
Format: DVD
Kind of film that is very hard to find in modern production. Brillant!
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