Werckmeister Harmonies, Béla Tarr’s transfixing follow-up to his seven-hour epic Satantango, is one of the Hungarian auteur’s signature achievements and a benchmark work of contemporary art cinema. Based, like Satantango, on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, the film is set in a dreary, wintry East European village, where the arrival of a strange travelling circus, and a sinister zealot known as The Prince, unleashes destructive forces that plunge the community into madness, murder, and revolution.
Directed by Cannes-award winner Sándor Reisenbüchler, Holdmese is a psychedelic animated short that mixes pulp sci-fi, Tibetan mysticism and Slavic folklore. Two scientists propose that the moon is an ancient, derelict spaceship, and go on a journey through deep space to discover its origins. The influence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 is clear, but Reisenbüchler’s collage technique is distinctively- and irreverently- his own. Holdmese stands as a brilliant forgotten work of Communist animation.
An almost psychedelically luminous invocation of the Battle of Borodino set to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (1880). As Reisenbüchler put it: the film deals with “self-destruction in the power struggle for the conquest of empires”.
This ecologically-minded film builds on the contrasts of idyllic, untouched nature and small communities versus the world of rigid, faceless, gigantic machine monstrosities. This film that was created at the time of mass demonstrations against the levelling of Transylvanian villages and the barrage system on the Danube in the late 1980s was inspired by the novel Farewell to Matyora by Valentin Rasputin about a Siberian village flooded because of the construction of a hydroelectric power station.
Sándor Reisenbüchler’s animated film of the Ferenc Juhász poem is a magical mythological tale featuring numerous folklore symbols, in which due to the horrors of war and the evil of man the Sun and the Moon vanished from the sky. This visionary film singing of the universal struggle between fairy tale Good and Evil was considered by the director a sort of ars poetica. The film was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1969.
Fifth short film directed by István Szabó. It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won a Special Award. There is practically no argument, because it is nothing more than an act of love for Cecília Esztergályos, who at that time was Szabó’s girlfriend.
A prisoner attempts to have one forget the bleakness of prison existence through coloured crayon sketches drawn on the wall. However, the prison officer does not hesitate to stamp out even this small pleasure. Adapted from a press caricature, titled “Művészek/Artists” by György Várnai, which was published in 1966 in the popular satirical weekly “Ludas Matyi/Mattie the Gooseboy”.
Ulveczky, the unbridled bull of the village, is incapable of living in the small community like others. He runs his farm and lives his life as a tyrant. His licentious temperament leads him to take whatever he wants, women included, who are swept off their feet. His victims include a beautiful young girl who nearly dies when the man tires of her and ejects her from the farm. With great difficulty she restarts her life, hoping that she has finally freed herself of the brute who, however, does not let go so easily.