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BUDAPEST TALES

Hungary, 1976 (MIFF 1980, István Szabó Retrospective)

Director: István Szabó

"The next two films are free of lead actors and are about constellations within the group. In 25 Fireman's Street, the house is the star; in Budapest Tales, the trolley car. 25 Fireman's Street tells the tale of a house being demolished and as the house crumbles, a century of Hungarian history unfolds.

Szabo sketched his original conception of this intricate film: 'One night, an entire household of people has the same dream, and in that night, they love each other, hate, betray, reconcile themselves. It is this common dream that unites them, although they have always lived in the house. They are in the attic, the cellar; there are layers of people in this house and, on this one night, they come together for a universal dream, but the next morning, when they awaken, nobody can be sure that life is the same. Yet they all act as if everything is normal, and don't believe that all the others shared their dream.'

Behind Szabo's statement, there seems to lie an additional need to air out socialism: first, to explore the social injustices that dogged Hungarian history, typified by the class struggle and the manipulation, if not oppression, of women; secondly, to explore the basis of the social contract; and thirdly, to portray history as a dream, or nightmare, come true.

The old house is wrecked and removed, but the historical dream is not so easily destroyed. The only form in which historical and political realism is minimal is folklore. So it was in this form that Szabo cast his next film.

The trolley car in Budapest Tales could be considered the star of a film whose plotless progression is a ritual of social reconstruction. The theme is also present in Miklos Jancso's work: in the wake of social devastation, we witness the anarchy of psychologically and physically isolated individuals approaching one another tentatively. In their sense of loss and being lost, their emotions have the impact of being prototypes of human sorrow, joy, love, hate, loyalty and betrayal. Szabo proposes that fear is one of the most powerful binding agents of a group, for toward the end of the journey, after hanging together through thick and thin, it is still the recognition and confession of each man's fear that unites and overjoys them again."

See also...

FATHER

The story of a little boy whose father dies on the last day of the War. The lonely and timid child needs a prop and finds support in creating a myth about his father's memory, inventing images of a ... More »

BUDAPEST TALES

A small group of homeless people in post-war Hungary are trying to reach Budapest on foot, when they come across an abandoned tram car After sheltering in the car during the night one of them notices ... More »

FATHER

"In 1966 he made Father about a boy's search for his dead father. A warm, tolerant humour is immediately visible in this film which developed into a gentle irony over Szabo's next ten years (a humour ... More »

Mirror

A charming short portrait of everyday life in Budapest filmed by the director with his friends. ... More »

25 FIREMAN'S STREET

"The next two films are free of lead actors and are about constellations within the group. In 25 Fireman's Street, the house is the star; in Budapest Tales, the trolley car. 25 Fireman's Street tells ... More »

25, FIREMAN’S STREET

This film, by Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, won the major prize at the 1974 Locarno festival. As the title might indicate, the film deals with the inhabitants of an apartment building in Budapest ... More »

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