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.
Human Flow is a 2017 German documentary film co-produced and directed by Ai Weiwei about the current global refugee crisis. Ai Weiwei also comes from a past of displacement; his entire family was exiled to an isolate village of Xinjiang in the Gobi desert due to his parents being writers in the midst of the Cultural Revolution in China.
Like Human Flow, Ai has created similar art installations such as the “Law of the Journey” that features a 200 foot inflatable boat carrying 258 refugee figures, “Laundromat” where he filled a New York City gallery with discarded clothing and personal notes left by refugees in a camp in Idomeni Greece, and the recreation of the captured image of Aylan Kurdi, the young Syrian who drowned off the coast of Turkey.
spacetime coordinates: late 19th century > mid-20th century Hungary
Sunshine is a 1999 historical drama film directed by István Szabó and written by Israel Horovitz and Szabó. It follows five generations of a Hungarian Jewish family, originally named Sonnenschein (German: “sunshine”), later changed to Sors (Hungarian: “fate”), during changes in Hungary, focusing mostly on the three generations from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. The family story traverses the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire through to the period after the 1956 Revolution, while the characters are forced to surrender much of their identity and endure family conflict. The central male protagonist of all three generations is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes. The film’s stars include Rachel Weisz and John Neville, with the real-life daughter and mother team of Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris playing the same character across a six-decade storyline.
Son of the White Mare (Hungarian: Fehérlófia) is a 1981 Hungarian experimental, full-feature, pop-art/folk-art fairy-tale / animated adventure film directed by Marcell Jankovics The story’s main character is Fehérlófia (Son of the White Mare), who is a man with superhuman power. Based on the work of László Arany and ancient Hunnic and Avaric legends, Fehérlófia is a tribute to the old steppe peoples. There are slight differences between Arany’s work and the movie – for example, in the movie, Fehérlófia (Son of the White Mare, protagonist) and Fanyűvő (Treetearer) are the same person. There are also references to ancient origin legends: Ősanya (Progenitrix), Ősapa (Forefather), and the Világfa (World tree).
The film was made from 1979 to 1981. It is the second animated feature-length film of Jankovics and Pannónia Filmmstúdió.