This 1995 film from Hungary has finally made it to American shores. Directed by Janos Szasz, whom individuals may remember from 1990â€™s Donâ€™t Disturb (English title), the film deals with the adventures of two adolescent (12 and 14 year old) children and their travails after their father dies. Set in the early years of the twentieth century, The Witman Boys show the drastic differences and the numerous similarities that this period has with the current period. The indifference held by the mother is enough of a reason for the children to go out on their own, and they ultimately end up with a brothel, taking advice and gaining friendship with one of the workers there.
The children themselves suffer from the lack of a proper role model, moving into the dissection of animals and other behaviors that show that they do not properly give living creatures proper respect. While the prostitute that they begin to identify with provides some sort of stabilizing influence in their lives, this is not enough of a normal life to place them back on the straight and narrow. In much the same way that Raising Jeffrey Dahmer did in explaining why exactly Dahmer turned to a life of death and similarly horrible crimes, Szasz does an impressive job at marking the exact moment when the children begin to take a course that will ultimately turn them of committers of the most heinous of crimes.
The actions that each take are small at the beginning, but viewers of The Witman Boys begin to see the transformation take place over the course of the movie. It is easy just to place the blame on the motherâ€™s lack of love for the children, but these youths are not to be pitied. The actions that they take during The Witman Boys are of their own doing, and while there are certain environmental and cultural factors that play into their development, the actions that the boys take are beyond the pale. The power of Szaszâ€™s filmmaking is making the sotryy told during The Witman Boys into something that could easily be adapted to the current time period; if individuals wanted to turn Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris into The Witman Boys, the story could be transferred without much more than a change of scenery.
The Witman Boys (DVD) / 2008 Facets / 95 Minutes / http://www.facets.org /