The 8mm film diary of a couple, shot between 1936 and 1966.
Budapest is a ghost-like city, where phantasmal shadows shift in a snowy view, in the clutch of cold and wind. Jenö is a bank clerk living in the elegant districts of the city, with his wife Dusi and their purebred dog. Since 1936 Jenö keeps a film diary in which he records, preferably, the moments spent with his wife and the in-laws, but also visions of his city and its worldly life: the entrance of a hotel, the crowd in front of a theatre, the elegant vehicles in the streets.
According to Forgács, Jenö “could have been the best cameramen of his time, if he hadn’t worked as a bank clerk for the General Mortgage Credit Bank up to 1945”, he shoots long pan-shots along the river, arranges postcards of the most important city monuments, fixes the beauty of the bridges over the Danube. But the re-working effort made by Forgács with the help of Tibor Szemzö’s music, places these frames of little, private happiness in the wider perspective of historical memory.
The result is a heart rending elegy, the unsettling death dance of a society close to disaster and a country upon which the Nazi occupation nightmare looms.
The great main character of the film is Dusi the dog, catalyst of the eye of the camera and emotional reference point of the young couple, childless. The small tragedy of his death and the following burial ceremony is the dramatic peak of the events and the unveiling of a dull pain, working under the surface of the image. At the end of the war, Jenö keeps on, imperturbable, to film his daily routine and the new reality of a city in ruins.
The film is the second episode of the series Private Hungary, started by Forgács at the end of the 1980s and continued up to date.
video | B&W and colour
Private Hungary 2