Kontroll is a Hungarian film released to theatres in 2003. Shown internationally, mainly in art house theatres, the film is a darkly comic thriller set on the Budapest Metro.

"Kontroll" in Hungarian refers to the act of ticket inspectors checking to ensure a rider has paid their fare. The story revolves around the ticket inspectors, riders, and a possible killer.

The film was written and directed by Nimród Antal and starred Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, and Csaba Pindroch. The film was entered in a number of film festivals in Europe and North America. It won the Gold Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The basic idea of the film comes from the music video Szandál for the rock band Warpigs which Antal and the band members came up together with. However, they are uncredited on Kontroll.

Actor Lajos Kovács, who plays a minor role in Kontroll, is internationally known for Radiohead's "Karma Police" music video.


The main character of the story is Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), who spends his life in the Metro of Budapest, checking tickets. He eats and sleeps underground and never sees the sunlight. He is a member of a ticket inspector team (the others are played by Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch and Sándor Badár). His team struggles to check riders' tickets because people resent them. Among the ticket inspectors on the same shift there is a conflict between Bulcsú's team and another team. Bulcsú is challenged to "rail running" by this other team's leader. "Rail running" is an event similar to the running of the bulls. Once the last passenger train leaves the station, the contenders must run through the tunnels and exit before the last train, which does not stop at any station. Bulcsú exits the tunnel first with his opponent close behind. Bulcsú pulls the opponent off the track just in time to prevent the train running over him.

While Bulcsú is on a ticket inspection, he meets a woman, Sofie (Eszter Balla), who is dressed as a bear and never buys a ticket for the metro. Bulcsú falls in love with Sofie, and later he discovers that she is the daughter of his good friend Béla (Lajos Kovács), a metro driver (the family of public transport workers don't need to buy tickets in Hungary). Béla drinks; he used to drive trains on the surface until he crashed a train due to lack of braking distance.

Deaths start occurring in the Metro, with passengers and bystanders seemingly leaping into the path of the oncoming trains. At first the characters think the victims are suicidal jumpers. The audience, however, and later Bulcsú see that the deaths are caused by someone, or something, pushing each victim onto the tracks right before a train comes. The identity of the murderer is never known.

When Bulcsú is chasing a troublesome passenger, nicknamed "Bootsie", the murderer pushes Bootsie in front of a train. Bulcsú is suspected of the crime, which leads to him quitting his job. While brooding and in despair he is attacked by the murderer. He has to run for his life on the rails. In the end, the train apparently hits the murderer, and Bulcsú leaves the underground hand in hand with Sofie. Every staircase of the escalator is moving upwards.

One interpretation of the final death race between Bulcsú and the murderer is that the murderer is in fact Bulcsú himself, and that the last "rail run" is a symbolic race where the evil Bulcsú perishes while the good Bulcsú survives. Other interpretations suggest the killer is actually one of the other metro workers, or merely the creation of Bulcsú's imagination. The final scene, in which Bulcsú and Sofie ride the escalator up to the outside world, can be interpreted literally, or as a metaphorical ascension, as he is guided up a stairway suffused by a light from above by an angelic-looking character with wings. The director has stated that Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris was an inspiration for the film.

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