The Life Of An Agent, Police training in the Kádár Era

  • Hungary
Audio Tracks 

Between 1958 and 1988 the film studio of the Hungarian Interior Ministry shot several hundred instructional films, the aim of which was to teach members of the secret police about methods designed to protect the state socialist regime. The themes dealt with included guidelines for secret searches of homes, operational monitoring of enemy persons, the installation of audio surveillance equipment, and the organization of networks of agents and informers.

This film, which works exclusively with secret police material, sheds significant light on the mechanisms of the maintenance of power, and from within it proves the totalitarian state, infected with conspiracy and paranoia, waged a battle against its own citizens.

Part of the film informs about how best to search a library and without leaving a trace leaf through books, and how to detect secret notes and hidden messages. The agent must also approach a wardrobe with the same circumspection applied to the library search, and every tie must be drawn out between one’s fingers, carefully and responsibly.

The police films are fossil records of the totalitarian regime, which through these means also created the perfect illusion of the enemy. The ideological opponents that in the instructional materials are or are not fake, through their unreality became part of the films that taught the police apparatus how to put its power into use. This impersonation, however, had a progressive character, as that which cannot be grasped was essentially criminal.

The films, in which full use was made of contemporary technological progress, offered a perfect methodology, but it had of course no support in the real world of crime, only in abstract ideology, the nature of which thoroughly predetermined the content of the films.

In this sense their precision also represents the loss of the essence of cinematographic truth, as the objects and actions they contain are ideological simulacra, the reification of totalitarianism in the form of an image, which was to have a reciprocal influence on the image of reality.

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  • Original Title
    Az Ügynök Élete Belügyi Oktatás a Kádár-Korszakban
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
  • Cinematography
  • Editing
  • Music
  • Runtime
    82 min (46-90 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Hungary
  • Production
      • Bologna Film
      • Lágymányosi u. 21/A
      • 1111 Budapešť
      • Hungary
      • web: http://
      • tel: +36 20 4357454
      • cell: +36 20 4357454
      • e-mail: is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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