The movie opens at the time of the Hungarian uprising of 1956, when a family is separated forever. The husband has a clandestine escape route prepared, via the Red Cross, to Vienna, but his wife decides to stay in Budapest, keeping the two kids.
This prologue is fraught with significance, shot in semi-documentary sepia tone and underlined with momentous music.
Time Stands Still, which takes its title from a Hungarian popular song, is filled with images that are individually stunning: a man and woman talk in shadowy blue profile while water drips from the brim of the man's hat and pots boil on the stove between them. A boy and his teacher embrace in a bathroom with the camera looking down from behind the twisting blades of a fan.