Directed by Robert Vas (1959; 27 min; 16 mm print from BFI)
“The last of the Free Cinema programmes was one of the best. It could not have been easy to find a film which We Are the Lambeth Boys would not overshadow; but Robert Vas’s Refuge England proved to be one of the movement’s most sympathetic productions. We are shown the first day in England of a Hungarian refugee with no English, little money, and a scrap of paper with an address that might be in any district of London. As he wanders backwards and forwards across the city, his lack of connection with the crowds about him twists his original cheerful optimism towards despair. No one is interested in his plight or, it seems, his existence. The awful indifference of the city and its people nearly makes him give up, until finally he receives hospitality at the address he has been trying to trace. Without self-pity this film hauntingly presents an individual picture of isolation, subtly changing through a whole series of moods from the first, wondering survey of the contradictions among the passers-by to the eventual unhappy gaze at the gaudy self-sufficiency of the West End in the evening… . The unostentatious use of evocative effects and music is particularly telling, and the performance of Tibor Molnar has a rare exactness.” —Derek Hill, Sight and Sound, 1959
This film is part of the series Borderline: European Cinema 1959 and is co-sponsored by the European Studies Council at Yale and the Yale Center for British Art.