The Tyrant’s Heart (1981)
aka The Tyrant’s Heart, or Boccaccio in Hungary
aka A zsarnok szíve, avagy Boccaccio Magyarországon
Genre: Drama | History
Country: Hungary | Italy | Director: Miklós Jancsó
Language: Hungarian | Subtitles: English & Hungarian
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Aspect ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 | Length: 86mn
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Gaspar, the king’s son, had been sent to Italy as a child. He returns as a man, with some Italian actor friends, after the strange death of his father. His mother has been keeping herself young through the daily blood sacrifice of virgins. Mama is obviously based on Erzsebet Bathory, the Bloody Countess, previously portrayed on the screen by Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula, Delphine Seyrig in Daughters of Darkness, and Tina Aumont in Necropolis. (All three were made in 1970, a big year for Erzsebet.)

The Tyrant’s Heart is a variation: a chamber version of history. Nearly all of it takes place indoors. (In a movie studio? A city? An aquacade? A Turkish bath?) The entire film is one extended “number.” It is a department store of Jancsoisms: there are long takes of characters on treadmills; violence is abstracted; history is transformed into a gesticular masque; characters suddenly shift from tenderness to brutality. And, as is often the case with this director, the film, without containing any homosexual scenes is quite homoerotic. The women are sex objects; the men direct their tenderness only to other men.


The Tyrant’s Heart (1981)