I was hoping that Second Run would tackle this one! I saw new a 35mm print a year or so ago, albeit projected at 1.37:1.
I suspect it was shot open-matte - and it's very very hard indeed to tell by eye what the correct AR should be, as there's scarcely a shot in which the camera and its subjects aren't constantly moving (usually both at the same time). Which is presumably why even Jancsó had to double-check with the man who was actually responsible for the framing - the camera movements were so complicated that János Kende had to take on extra assistants just to keep everything in focus.
I think it is Jancsó's masterpiece.
I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but for me it's easily the best of the Hungarian colour films that he made between The Confrontation
(1968) and Elektreia
(1974). Admittedly, I haven't seen Sirocco
(1969), but everything I've heard about it suggests that it's a companion-piece to Agnus Dei
(1970), which I found very disappointing. To be fair, a Jancsó newcomer would probably find it amazing, but to someone who's seen virtually all his preceding features it looks a little too much like treading water - whereas Red Psalm
saw him breaking out of that rut and producing something one of his most aesthetically thrilling films.
Here's my take on it
, with apologies for inaccurate guesswork about the aspect ratio. There are also what would normally be considered major plot spoilers, but with this particular film it doesn't really feel like them - it's not exactly a conventional narrative feature.
Oh, and here's a clip
, which should illustrate why it's so hard to work out the correct aspect ratio! But there does seem to be a modicum of headroom in the shots when the camera briefly stops moving.