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🇭🇺 | "I will never trust a single word this femboy says ever again." - /mlp/ | Like what I do? Ko-Fi,

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    "We will ask something of you..."

    ”The International situation is intensifying.”

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Mar
27th
2023

"We will ask something of you..." · 7:31pm Mar 27th, 2023

”The International situation is intensifying.”

These words might ring relevant and timely in today’s war-ridden atmosphere, but some might be surprised to learn that they are, in fact, a direct quote from a 1969 movie, from before the time of (what has been locally dubbed) the “System change”, the dismantling of the Soviet one-party state and the introduction of Western democracy to Hungary and less directly the rest of Eastern-Europe.


Comrade Virág sitting at his desk on the poster advertising the 2019 HD remaster of the film, which served as the basis of the fic’s cover art.

Péter Bacsó’s a Tanú was created in a time of great political turmoil. Following the unrest and revolution of the Fifties, the Hungarian Soviet government attempted to placate the masses with some limited liberalization and the reining-in of the system’s most oppressive elements, like lightening on censorship and officially disbanding the ÁVH, the state's infamous secret police, whose signature method of terror was to arrive at midnight and shove confused suspects into the backs of their black cars, potentially never to be seen again. Despite these efforts, however, Moscow was immensely displeased with the slipping of their grasp and urged these countries to once again take a hardliner stance and regain control over the population.

Because of this, though the movie was supported by no other than the Soviet government at the time, its release was subsequently blocked by the Ministry of Culture of the same government, and it took the film an entire decade to be finally allowed airing. This, however, didn’t stop resourceful people from proliferating copies of the film to private gatherings, universities, illegal cinemas, etc. and so, by the time the movie was finally deemed ‘tolerable’ (by then an entire decade had passed!), it had already gained a massive following throughout the nation. Its success wasn’t limited to Hungary either. One of the main reasons it was ultimately allowed to be publicly shown was because the fact that the movie was featured at Cannes Film Festival, where it garnered such a positive reception that thirty-two other countries bought the rights to show it.

But what even is a Tanú about and why would someone like me choose to spend their time recreating it with pastel horses? Simply put, it is a satirical tragicomedy, that depicted the darkest period of Hungary’s Soviet system, the 1950’s, in a very earnest and genuine fashion. Its humor and witty lines were so pervasive, that certain quotes—like the one opening this post—entered common usage and are used by people who might not even truly be aware where they came from.

The movie features a humble, well-intentioned, and slightly naive dike guard by the name of József Pelikán, who gets caught up in a political play by a mysterious man of the government, the innocently-named ("Virág" stands for "Flower"), but all the more sinister Comrade Virág. Pelikán's friend, minister and long-time believer of Socialism, Zoltán Dániel is framed as an “imperialist spy” and ordered to be disappeared by higher command, and so it falls on the unwilling dike guard to act as the star witness of the upcoming show trial. What follows is a series of funny and deeply satirical scenes, as Virág tries his best to butter Pelikán up, by granting him loftier and loftier jobs and titles, only for him to completely fumble even the simplest tasks, because, as he puts it, he is "simply not ideologically learned enough.”


Virág and Pelikán confiding in each other, surrounded by the latter’s children. Part of the success of the movie was attributed to its strikingly role-fitting, almost caricaturistic actors.

It is an understandable concern that someone from outside Hungary might not enjoy the narrative, whether in its original form or as my retelling, but considering its success at the festival and my own anecdotal experience of showing it to Equimorto, who, despite happening to be neither Hungarian, nor that big into the Soviet-era, very much liked the movie—so much so that he provided proofreading for this fic—I’m confident to say that both can be enjoyed even if you have little frame of reference.

My plan with the fic is first and foremost to entertain. I’ve foregone any and all real-life political connections in the story, choosing to set it in a Nightmare Moon-ruled Equestria, instead of the more obvious choice of Equestria at War’s Stalliongrad. Thus, instead of a Socialist setting, I made the primary conflict be between the recently-ousted Solars (a stand-in for the imagined masses of "Western imperialist spies" constantly working to undermine the system) and the currently-reigning Lunars, headed by Nightmare Moon (as the system of the Fifties was characterized by a cult of personality, I think it is only sensible to portray it using one of the most self-absorbed characters of the show).

I believe it would be a disservice to the film and its director, if I tried to emulate the level of direct satire it went for, so I wrote this fic with the goal of showcasing what the humor of its inspiration is like, with the—perhaps childish—hope that some readers might enjoy it so much, that they will consider checking out the original work. However, don't forget that even if they have gone through two authors' hands, most of the jokes here are in some shape or form inspired by real life events.

With this in mind, I hope you will enjoy the story. I’ve had a blast trying to reinterpret the movie’s characters as familiar figures from MLP and I’m very eager to see how the audience at large will like it.

And remember, ”life is no whipped cream!”

Comments ( 5 )

Film sounds interesting, in a similar, less grim vein to Death of Stalin

5720079
The similarity is there, somewhat. However, what I feel like is a great difference between the two is that Bacsó worked based on his own life experiences. In a sense everything happening in the movie was plausible to a certain extent (while obviously exaggerated a little for comedic effect), it also focuses much more on the average Joe, while DoS turns things on their head and show the absurdism of the Soviet system from its head.

This write up gives me high hopes for the quality of the main story!

Personally, I like that you're going with baseline MLP instead of EAW Stalliongrad. MLP baseline has more separation from the real world, thus you have to make more creative decisions when you reimagine the story into pastel horse mode.

Thanks to your story and this post, I finally found something interesting to watch and to read.

5720176
Thank you! I hope it will meet your expectations.

5721215
Oh, I'd love to hear your opinion on both, being from the opposite perspective and all.

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