Director: István SzabÃ³
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. The neighbourhood has been condemned, and the sounds of demolition disrupt the inhabitants' activities, day and night. It is stiflingly hot, and the heat and continual noise disturb the residents' sleep, stimulating tangled, bizarre dreams. Szabo builds his characters' past through their dreams, memories and fantasies. He switches from one person to another, creating an intricate patchwork of images, evoking the troubled past of several generations of Hungarians. Their dreams are marked by memories of war.
A woman dreams of the war years and of hiding deserters and Jews; a young boy thinks of a desirable older woman, while a young girls pines for him. His mother sees old suitors and even the dead return, as she goes through her past. Watchmaker, seamstress, janitor, shopkeeper and the others who are tied to the old rooms by many events, reconstruct their private history. Their dreams and memories mesh into a complex evocation of the past.
Szabo said of the film, 'For me it is not important that the action takes place in a particular street or a well-defined location. I believe that the value of a film lies in its presentation of human relations so profound that it opens for me new perspectives, forces me to draw conclusions, dissipates some of my complexes. And suddenly I find it helps me to live.'