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Yugoslavia and Hungary

15.01.2011

Other Soviet Bloc countries have also had an uneasy time creating new work in an atmosphere of political turmoil, but the Yugoslavian filmmaker Emir Kusturica created a sensation with Otac na sluzbenom putu (When Father Was Away on Business, 1985), in which a man is arrested for a chance political remark and thrown into prison; his family, and in particular his son, Malik, waits outside for his release. Dom za vesanje (Time of the Gypsies, 1988) is the story of a young Gypsy, Perhan, who is seduced into a life of crime, while the sprawling epic Bila jednom jedna zemlja (Underground, 1995) is a surreal war film centered in Belgrade, in which the war is artificially prolonged by ambitious black marketeers amid a series of bizarre incidents. Crna macka, beli macor (Black Cat, White Cat, 1998) is a much lighter work, a romantic comedy of chaotic family life.


In Hungary, István Szabó’s Mephisto (1981), Oberst Redl (Colonel Redl, 1985), and Hanussen (1988) are potent political parables with a distinctively graceful touch. Márta Mészáros emerged as another talented feminist filmmaker of note, who learned her trade from her former husband, director Miklós Jancsó. Her films Kilenc hónap (Nine Months, 1976) and Napló gyermekeimnek (Diary for My Children, 1984) tackle issues of feminine identity in an overwhelmingly patriarchal society and offer an individual perspective of the problems of a woman living in contemporary Eastern Europe. Ildiko Enyedi’s offbeat Az Én XX. Századom (My Twentieth Century, 1989) charts the picaresque adventures of twin sisters born in Budapest in the late nineteenth century. Separated shortly after birth, the two take decidedly different career paths—one becomes a violent political activist, the other a playgirl. Their life journey is linked to the introduction of electricity, which is seen as offering a new world of industrial promise at the expense of a breakdown in the nineteenth century’s social fabric. Progress, in short, comes with a price tag.



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