Hungary’s Orbán is not the villain, says German director of controversial pro-migration movie

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the opponent, rather than the “Shakespearean villain” as many critics have described him, Stephan Wagner, director of German television movie “Die Getriebenen” (The Driven Ones) told conservative Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet in an interview.

The film aired on national television channel ARD on April 15 and portrays the crucial autumn of 2015 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to open Germany to an immigration wave of one million people.

The film is based on the eponymous 2017 book by journalist Robin Alexander. While the book itself is a strongly critical look at the events as suggested by its title, where the “driven ones” are the politicians caught in the stream of the events, the movie is widely regarded as an ode to Merkel.

Besides the main character of Merkel, played by Imogen Kogge, the movie also features two Hungarian politicians: Orbán, portrayed by Romanian actor Radu Bânzaru, and then cabinet minister János Lázár played by Hungarian actor Zsolt Bács.

Answering to Magyar Nemzet’s question why Orbán was portrayed as a Shakespearean villain, Wagner says he does not see it that way.

“Viktor Orbán is rather the opponent in the tragedy,” Wagner said. “From his perspective, his decisions are even understandable. At the same time, his perspective is the Hungarian, not the European one. This hasn’t changed to this day.”

Wagner said his decision to cast Orbán’s role to a Romanian actor, whose voiced was dubbed in post-production by a native Hungarian actor, was based on both Bânzaru’s physical similarity to the Hungarian prime minister and also a necessity as no Hungarian actor wanted to accept the role.

Wagner, while maintaining that the movie is far from the “beatification of Merkel” as some critics saw it, but says it is an objective account of what he thinks was ultimately a good decision.

“The city of Berlin alone took in more people fleeing the Syrian conflict and other migrants than the country previously regarded as the classical immigrant country, the United States. I experienced this as a gain,” he said.

Wagner does not address the downsides of mass migration to Germany in his interview, including migrants’ disproportionate role in Germany’s crime statistics as well as the enormous taxpayer burden migrants have had on Germany’s generous welfare system.

The influx of migrants to Germany also coincided with the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) and loss of power for Germany’s mainstream parties.

Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Romanian actor Radu Bânzaru portraying him in the movie Die Getriebenen. 

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