Stuck at home with nothing to do at home during the Coronavirus lockdown? Why not choose a movie to watch, but not just any movie, choose one with a purpose besides just entertainment. Choose a Hungarian film, for a better understanding of the Hungarian psyche, – there are many movies to choose from, – subtitled in English.
Hungarian filmmakers have a long and illustrious history internationally, with many an influential director originating here to become famous internationally. In fact, Americans with Hungarian roots were in large part behind the creation of Hollywood. Consider both Adolph Zukor (founder of Paramount Pictures) and William Fox (founder of Fox – now 20th Centuries Fox) had Hungarian roots.
Did you know that Drew Barrymore, Goldie Hawn were both of Hungarian descent? In terms of Directors did you know Michael Curtiz (AKA Mihaly Kertesz) the Director of Casablanca and the iconic Mephisto trilogy was a Hungarian-American?
Of course, the very first Hungarian to win an oscar was István Szabó, who was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a myriad of other awards.
One of the most famous Hungarian Film directors is Károly Makk, who was born and grew up close to Debrecen in Berettyóúfalu.
Finding a Hungarian film to watch is fairly easy, IMDB lists are useful for film hunting by the director, however in terms of Hungarian actors that have received international acclaim the list is much smaller, most notably includes female actresses from Debrecen, Teri Tordai and more recently Réka Tenki spring to mind.
If you are interested in movies and in Hungary, start your Hungarian Movie experience with this list of the top 25 Best Hungarian Directors. Or if you want a quick pick, choose one of the films listed below or choose one of the many older classic films which are available for free via the Hungarian National Film Institute.
A Kind of America
In the first of 3 movies about a young director and his journey, a rise from arrival in America to a successful status. Part comedy, and part romance this film is perhaps a lighter story than others on this list. Directed by Gábor Herendi in 2002.
A film set in the Great Plains close to Debrecen, by Tibor Déry and directed by Károly Makk in what can only be described as a political piece set in an isolated colony, lead by a tyrannical leader.
One of the best Hungarian old silent films (with a great musical soundtrack), was directed by Sándor Korda and it was made in the last year of the first world war. The film, based on a novel of the same name The Golden Man, by Mór Jókai, was long thought lost to time, was uncovered in 1983 in the Koblenz collection of the Bundesarchive, and thereafter renewed in 1995, and then in 2018 fully restored in 4k, – according to the film archive.
The Fifth Seal (Rating 8.7 IMDB)
A story of the little man that stands up to oppression, the story speaks of the revolutionary times, morality against oppression and fascism. The film is based upon Ferenc Sánta’s novel of the same name putting the spotlight on moral dilemmas faced by many in Hungary during the second world war. The film was directed by Fábri Zoltan in 1976.
White God (2014) (IMDB Rating 6.9)
This film, Directed by Kornél Mundruczóis and starring a rising star of Hungarian film Zsófia Psotta is a story about a young girl, a dog, and their story of survival vs those humans with ill intent towards them. A winner at Sundance Film Festival, and winner at Cannes, this film has to be at the top of your viewing list for Covid19 times.
If you love dogs, then this is definitely one for you!
The Door (2012) (Rating 6.5 IMDB)
The name Magda Szabó is synonymous with Debrecen where she lived and grew up, therefore the Movie ’The Door’ is a must-see. The movie, directed by István Szabó is based upon Magda Szabó’s book, which when published in English for the first time was voted one of the top 10 books of 2015 by New York Times. Her book has much about herself in it. The story is about a novelist living in communist Hungary during the 1960s and her relationship with her maid.
Sunshine (1999) (Rating of 7.5 IMDB)
Last but not least is this István Szabó film, starring no other than Rachel Weisz, herself of Hungarian ancestry spanning the years from the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire up until the 1956 revolution in all its glory and pain. Rachel Weisz stars alongside Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Ehle.
So there you have it 7 films to keep you entertained for a week. Some of the films are available for free and the others are available via Amazon or Netflix.