The Tragedy of Man is a Hungarian animated film based on the play of the same name. It starts out at with God creating existence, and follows Lucifer’s lead as he guides to Adam and Eve’s through the entirety of humanity’s existence. If anything, you couldn’t criticise the film for its lack of ambition.
Originally made as segments over a period of years and pieced together as a two-and-a-half hour epic, this film is a serious undertaking on both the animator and audience’s part. It is densely scripted and visually engaging throughout, with different animation styles and techniques being used for each scene. Sights include prehistory, Ancient Egypt, The Roman Empire, The French Revolution and the distant future. Each time period acts as its own side story, but the quality is uneven between them. It is also a deeply serious film about humanity’s many failings, and adopts a very unhurried pace. That it makes its main point in the first half hour only to continually repeat it for another 2 hours feels a little overkill at times. You need to be feeling emotionally strong before taking this one on.
The Tragedy of man is a good film if you have the patience for it, and reactions will vary widely from person to person. It is an exercise in misery with the smallest of lights at the end of the tunnel. It is intelligent, engaging and demands all of your attention. It is pretentious, preachy and self-indulgent. Some viewers could hail it as the most important animated film of the last 10 years. Other could write it off as a load of tripe.
Personally I found it to be a worthwhile experience. The visuals were the strongest point for me, continuously shifting and more often successful in their executions than not. The philosophical areas were way more laboured. We get it: Humanity sucks! This film likes to hear itself speak so you basically have to embrace that if you’re going to make it to the end.
An interesting film. Feel free to check it out. Just don’t blame me if you lose all hope in humanity or are bored stiff.
Availability: Currently unavailable in English speaking territories, the Hungarian DVD has high-quality English subtitles (the translator has a much better vocabulary than me at least).