timespace coordinates: 80’s Transylvania, Romania > 1988 – 1999 Budapest, Hungary‘A Viszkis’/’The Whiskey Robber’ is a biographical crime-thriller written and directed by Nimród Antal and stars Bence Szalay as the notorious 1990s folk hero of Hungary, Attila Ambrus, who committed 27 bank and post office robberies from 1993 to 1999 until his eventual capture. The estimated amount of money stolen is more than 100 million HUF (approx. half a million USD) at the time.For the release in Hungary, a giant promotional billboard was placed above a bank in Budapest.
timespace coordinates: Hungarian village, 12 August 19451945 is a 2017 Hungarian drama film directed by Ferenc Török and co-written by Török and Gábor T. Szántó. On a sweltering August day in 1945, villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk’s son. Meanwhile, two Orthodox Jews arrive at the village train station with mysterious boxes labeled “fragrances.” (rt)
The White King is a 2016 British sci-fi-drama film written and directed by Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel. It is an adaptation of the 2008 Hungarian novel of the same name written by György Dragomán and follows Djata (Lorenzo Allchurch) growing up in an agrarian totalitarian state, without access to the rest of the world, while dealing with persecution against him and his parents (Agyness Deyn & Ross Partridge) by the government. (wiki)
György Dragomán’s story has been transposed to fictitious near-future dictatorship. Dragomán said this about the film: “In my original novel I wanted to show freedom in a society where freedom should not exist. In their movie Alex and Jörg were brave enough to take my communist childhood tale and adapt it into a modern story, showing us that the threat to freedom is as eternal as our fight for it.”
spacetime coordinates: modern-day Moscow / Budapest
Red Sparrow is a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons. It tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole. Matthews, a former member of the CIA, advised the production on the depiction of spying. Based on historic Soviet “sexpionage” and contemporary Russian use of kompromat.
spacetime coordinates: 2010’s Hungary / BudapestThe juxtaposition of supernatural thriller tropes and urgent socio-political issues in Kornél Mundruczó’s latest movie — an original take on the superhero origin story set to the backdrop of the refugee crisis — might prove a delicate one for some viewers to take. Those unperturbed, however, should find much to relish in Jupiter’s Moon, a film that somewhat lightly plays with themes of religion and immigration as it rumbles, crashes, and ultimately soars through the streets of the Hungarian capitol. It’s a tricky balance and Mundruczó (who had a break-out with his canine revolt film White God in 2014) strikes it with style and confidence (even going so far as to signpost it in an opening prologue that reminds the audience that the titular gas giant’s largest orbiting body is called Europa, and that many believe that large oceans rest beneath its icy surface where a “cradle of life” might exist). The hero of Jupiter’s Moon, a young Syrian refugee with the connotation heavy name of Aryan (played by Majd Asmi), does not find a cradle of life in his Europa. To the contrary, in fact, he’s gunned down in the opening minutes… (read more)
spacetime coordinates: Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, Poland 6 – 7 October 1944Son of Saul (Hungarian: Saul fia) is a 2015 Hungarian drama film directed by László Nemes and co-written by Nemes and Clara Royer. It is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and follows a day-and-a-half in the life of Saul Ausländer (played by Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando. The film’s many historical sources included the personal accounts of Schlomo Venezia and Filip Müller, the records of Miklos Nyiszli, a Romanian-Jewish doctor who was forced to work in the crematoria, and Claude Lanzmann‘s Shoah (1985).
During the preparation, director László Nemes, cinematographer Mátyás Erdély and production designer László Rajk made a pledge to stick to certain rules, or a “dogma”, which included: The film cannot look beautiful. // The film cannot look appealing. // We cannot make a horror film. // Staying with Saul means not going beyond his own field of vision, hearing, or presence. // The camera is his companion, it stays with him throughout this hell.
The film took five months of sound design, where human voices in eight languages were recorded and attached to the original recording of the production. Sound designer Tamás Zányi described the sound in the film “as a sort of acoustic counterpoint to the intentionally narrowed imagery”. The music score by László Melis is intentionally kept so subtle that viewers won’t even notice it. (read more: imdb, wiki)The film follows the same stylistic approach as László Nemes’ first and most successful short film Türelem (2007). In the short, the camera follows a woman proceed with her daily work routine with a very narrow focus and vision, until she walks up to a window and sees a group of Jewish prisoners stripped down by Sonderkommando prisoners and SS officers. The short is available online HERE.