Édes Anna

[Screenshot]There are a fair number of Hungarian films on my pull list that I haven’t been able to track down: if anyone knows a stateside source for a properly subtitled version of Szegénylegények or the 1969 version of A Pál utcai fiúk I’d appreciate the info. But I finally managed to track down a subtitled version of Édes Anna, a film from 1958 based on Kosztolányi’s classic drama of class warfare on the individual level.

It manages to accurately portray most of the events of the book while skirting around the social context, which somewhat seems to miss the point. I imagine any sort of political themes were a bit toxic in the late 50s, for fear of either resisting or seeming too cozy with the regime, but it very much takes the purpose out of the story. The household dynamic is well-prtrayed though: Mrs. Vizy is just unpleasant enough without being obviously nasty, while Kornél takes an appropriately embarassed tack to her mania. Jancsi is a difficult character to portray well: in the novel he came across as conflicted, awkward, and troubled, but on the screen his inner turmoil can’t be easily portrayed and he comes off as even more of a cad than he did in the original work.

This work mostly succeeds because Mezel and Töröcsik, in their roles as Mrs. Vizy and Anna, have a believably fractious dynamic. Among other things, this movie served to kickstart the career of the talented and aformenetioned Mari Töröcsik, who would then appear in pretty much every significant Hungarian film of the next 4 decades.

The book is better, I’d venture, and certainly a lot easier to find in the US.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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