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Sabtu, 28 Mei 2011

András Szirtes - Forradalom Után AKA After the Revolution (1989)

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Quote:
The historical iconography and sorrowful legacy of the former Communist bloc as filtered through the lyrical lens of artistic Hungarian exiles living in the East Village. A strongly visual composition held together by documentary montage and threads of narrative (mainly concerning the great exiled Russian author Bulgakov), Szirtes' film is thoughtful, evocation and eulogy of an era ended and eerily augurs the breadlines and chaos of a new one just begun.

In this highly experimental interpretation of life in post-communist Hungary, a writer lives a meager existence with his cat as he struggles to complete a novel. The kitty has a peculiar relationship with the talents of his master because the point of view of the film is that of the cat. The world is understood through the eyes and brain of the feline, which is illustrated via clips from old Soviet propaganda films, point-of-view cat cam footage, and crude visual effects. Every night he makes a summary of the experiences of his cat during the past day, and that material is the basis for the novel. Directed by innovative Hungarian filmmaker Andras Szirtes, After the Revolution is a true experimental film —vibrant, unrefined and intentionally crude— produced in the aftermath of the end of communism.

After the Revolution attempts to grasp as well as negate a moment (after the revolution) of which the maker, who at the same time is the main character of the film, is just as well part as Eizenstein, Bulgakov, the monographer of the latter, Mjagkov, or the cats. From the perspective of the film whether 7 or 70 years have elapsed since the time of the revolution has no significance, as the insecurity and temporary quality of the world have hardly changed. This is sufficient reason to feel a need of clarification: What is reality? What has happened and what may happen? This world cannot be described from a single external perspective but only by the parallel or superimposed projection of a number of perspectives, i.e. through the contemporary Russian avant-garde eye of film, through the director's dazed ("sobered?") eyes, through the eyes of the cat or those of Bulgakov (based on The Master and Margarite ).

Scenes of the revolution are shown with the help of archive material. The deterioration of their quality is attributable to the past. Images depicting the present - as the camera is born by the director/main character - loose their stability. They are adequate means of direct portrayal. The camera can thus be whirled around like a painter's brush. "I feel this to be a new visual-artistic enterprise at the same time. It is an enterprise in moving pictures, because it shows a most extraordinary visuality" - said Szirtes in an interview, which is similar to what has been said by Bódy: "Through video, the entire cinematographer way of life becomes similar to the mode of expression employed by the musician, the painter and the writer".

The graininess of the black-and-white picture, the result of a lack of technological perfection, is a means of increased visual effect which can be artistically coloured with the help of a computer. Szirtes turns the video-image into a painter's work of art. It is truly said that he makes the best possible use of the possibilities offered by video, - excluding only the high-technology introduced to film by video and which creates an overlapping between the two genres.

What is seen in Szirtes's film of video is its essence: a genre independent of film. The Life of the Marque de Sade is carrying this independence further. In this particular case, in the absence of a producer and of money, the technological solution of shooting the scenes with a PXL 2000 Fischer-Price camcorder by two people, exactly like in a home-made movie, was the result of an emergency situation. This 100-dollar toy produces technically so bad pictures that during screening they look like being projected from the Moon or a space-ship. The video-image made to look striped and grainy produces a direct mirror image of reality as it creates the effect of a report-documentary from a news-reel. The setting is no more than the large film-holder stand in the background with its six light-tubes. The costume of Péter Halász, playing de Sade, is a black molino with hundreds of 1x1 cm mirror-fragments.

"I wanted to have visuality on the most elementary level" - said Szirtes. He succeeded in that, turning necessity into a virtue. Elementary technology proved to be an assistant which helped him get rid of economic necessities and large corporations. A video- or film-maker can be just as independent as any other artist. This mechanism connects film to society, to people, to the original state where making films is a one-man enterprise again.

This is how film managed to find a new form for itself. This makes Szirtes's work interesting even as a document of the age. There may be many who do not consider his unclassifiable moving picture creation a film, yet it is a good example of how the moving picture survives its own "death", how it survives itself.

For this, however, the survival of the myth of the old film, of the old structure, of the old system of cultural ghettos, the traditional raising of generation barricades is quite not required. (As the positioning of those hurt in the past 40 years and during the system-shift is unnecessary, too). Instead of contemplating the past, one should see that the most exciting, most interesting attempts are made in the category of low-budget films, - independently of the discussions above or of gloomy exchanges of monomanias....

Szirtes says about Forradalom után: "Each of us will experience sooner or later his own personal revolution. This film tells my inner revolution, how I tried to have the emotional bond with my family, my country and my personal existence to influence. My personal story mixes with the story of The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. Actually it is about how someone just missed the boat of History in his life."

András Szirtes was born in 1951 in Budapest, Hungary. He made his very first films under the strong influence of the film avant-garde, especially another Hungarian filmmaker János Tóth. Szirtes’ work is closely bonded with the Béla Balázs Studio. Even his early works are strongly personal; his films show unmistakeable traces of a personal diary, and the author’s physical self is a part of nearly every picture. Szirtes’ top project undoubtedly is Diaries/ Napló (1979–2004). He finished cutting the first eight parts of this intimate film testimony in 1983. He continued recording his everyday life after he had left for the USA, and finished the second series of eight in 2003. His poetic film opus Dawn/ Hajnal (1973–1980) was also being born during several years, using nine hours of raw material and six thousand photographical motives. The screenplay for another major picture Gravitation/ Gravitácio (1981) was already finished in 1981. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to raise enough funds for the project, so he made a montage film, composed mainly of archive shots, whose aim was, literally, 'to kick in the ass’. A cynical, anarchic picture, with themes reflecting both physical and social attraction, is a collage of dead bodies and meat grinders, gunshots, mirrored games and scratches on the film reel. In 1983, Szirtes made his first feature-length film, a musical and lyrical essay The History of Pronuma Boys/ A Pronuma boyok torténete (1983) that opens with swearing at the audience who 'intend to watch that stupid movie’. After the Revolution/ Forradalom után (1989) was made as a virtue of necessity: the picture was shot, due to the lack of money, using low-quality video material, and when finished, Szirtes said that it was his cat that made it. Last Szirtes' project made in Béla Balázs Studio is The Baby’s Breakfast/ A kisbaba reggelije (1995). The director shot this film using the original hand crank Debrie camera and Gaumont projector, and presented it in Grand Café in Paris exactly one hundred years after the Lumière brothers’ first film show.
"I have never shot real documentaries. My films are deeper, more personal. Whenever I got invited to a film festival, they always hesitated when it came to characterising my work. It is sometimes an experiment, sometimes a very personal testimony, once full of fiction, next time rather documentary. That’s why I always asked to label my work simply “szirtesfilmS," says András Szirtes.

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