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Budapesti mesék 1977
Description: "Budapest Tales" is about a group of folks (consisting of Szabo regular Andras Balint along with Ildiko Bansagi and Karoly Kovacs) who search a broken down tram while trying to go to the city. The folks band together and test to receive the tram back on the train tracks and head towards the city. Along this adventure the passengers encounter many folks who join them on the tram. What started out as only a handful of folks has actually turned into a tiny village. As the folks travel on to the town every person takes on certain roles and through the course of time these roles will change. Some folks fall in love, others out of love, and a several even die. But life goes on. The folks hold the tram going hoping to reach Budapest.
Released: 02 Oct 1985 Director: István Szabó Writers: István Szabó Actors: Ági Mészáros, Maja Komorowska, Franciszek Pieczka, András Bálint Genres: Drama
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Budapesti mesék Reviews:

Watching this film it's simple to understand why old European art movies suffered from lack of wide audience, and why majority of folks nowadays don't remember them and don't even test to give them a chance.In fact, this is not a terrible movie. Compared to related ones from the same decade it is not too long, the director didn't expand it by unlimited long scenes that don't contribute to the plot or the visual beauty, and this makes it easier to watch. (Tarkovsky, who was a true genius, used to create films almost twice longer than Budapesti Mesék and with more control in editing most of them would only benefit not by cutting scenes out but making them shorter and would become more acceptable to average audience. Other genius Mallick often filled his masterpieces with features that were often not directly similar to the plot, but not too long and everytime mesmerizing – without them the plot would lose nothing, but the film would lose magic. Ioseliani had long scenes that showed nothing important, they were boring and repelled audience who disliked slow movies, but were at least really beautiful.) Szabo's film was made long after Hungarian unsuccessful revolution, and almost a decade after Prague Spring, the last time when Soviet units practiced reminding Iron Curtain countries what are they allowed to do and think. This distance made creators a bit more relaxed, but still careful. Hungarian film makers have frequently inspected the limits in making questions about socialism, its benefits and consequences. While Czech, Polish or Eastern German authors, if daring to express any criticism, usually blamed local authorities and their hero deviations for temporary malfunctions of the greatest possible system, in Hungary, as long as not openly inviting to dispose socialism and Soviet leadership, creators were rather gratis to present the issues and sometimes true tragedies appearing in and because of soviet-type socialism. Even Szabo's earlier film Szermelesfilm presented modern Hungarian history as a tragedy, German (nazi) occupation and Soviet termination of '56 revolution had the same impacts and results, and there was no true difference for average folks if they decided to stay in Hungary or to live in western capitalistic countries.As well as many art movies, especially European from 60's and 70's, Budapesti Mesék is based on symbols. Entire film uses a tram as a symbol of looking for something better, for better future, and this should be interpreted as a pro-socialist and pro-maxis attitude unless you look the another way, that folks from all over the country were leaving their homes because their today life was so difficult and unbearable so they had to seek better life in some almost mythical „town" (could be compared to expectations of folks searching for El Dorado or Shangri La). Again, along the adventure the only method to advance, to avoid traps, to handle the issues and to remove barriers was being together, in a group with powerful cohesion – collectivism as forced by communist theoreticians; however, along this adventure we can clearly see that this collectivism lacks humanity, ignores policy and individuality to the lvl of either expelling or physically removing the ones that (with or without true reason) seemed not to be fully devoted to common aim.The trouble of the film isn't the more than just several implausibilities. Art movies, related to fantasy ones, don't have to be fully logical, realistic and plausible. Just the opposite, distraction from pure realism makes the mission stronger. Unfortunately, using all characters only as symbols (we don't even know most of their names) makes them less interesting, and there is not a single one that makes us wish to follow, to know more about him, because there is nothing about him that we are supposed to know – every of them is reduced for his temporary appearance as a symbol. We can maybe consider the tram to be the leading hero of the film as sometimes another objects (a coat, a coin, a weapon etc) can be, or the most necessary role is given to the town, river, country; but folks who appear in roles helping to a knife, restaurant or a vehicle don't have to be puppets that only fill the scene (just remember Himmel über Berlin or Sous le ciel de Paris where humans live in the city, not diminishing its major role, but adding themselves as the treasure of the hero).Not ignoring these objections I can still suggest Budapesti mesék to art film admirers. Personally, I had better time watching it than spending time with Antonioni, Godard or Fassbinder. But these are just my private preferences. Watch and create your own attitude.


A thoughtful 1960s sort of movie, with a game that doesn't say much, though the movie does start with a brief visual history of the Budapest trolleycar system. In a mythic ver of the case after Globe Fight II folks search an overturned trolleycar far outside of town, right it, and start mostly pushing it toward the city, joined by another wandering individuals. The people, with nice faces and mostly respectable ways, succeed at cooperating, though with some squabbles and disasters. The time is also mythic, and not a historical allegory as far as this foreigner can tell, with fresh born twins showing up soon aged 2 or 3. The characters are what is important, and one does receive glimpses of their stories, and would play learning more. Besides the nice performers, there are nice images, though on a much lower budget that Werner Herzog had to receive Fitzcarraldo over the mountains. A nice video rental zone could have the film, since the director has gone on to nice things, including the newest "Being Julia."


The base concept of the movie, ie. WW II. refugees trieing to reach the town by a dismantled tram, sounded promising. It should have been a fine movie, but they screwed it as much as they could! The largest flaw is the it has no storyline at all. They just push the tram on an unlimited line of tracks, folks and things appear and disappear randomly - probably because there are much more of them than they should fit in that tram - and they tell from time to time fully inappropriate, perceptibly boned up lines (like how to write an application, how to nurse a baby, how to package for a long trip, or some babbles about their feelings), not even to every another just into the camera. And thats it, that's the entire film about! Alright they face some hardships - like uncooperative, parasitic fellow refugees, a wall of fire, bombed track, bombed bridge, etc. - and it makes some parts interesting, but they are still not "good" parts, they are just "less bad", because everything is so unreal: They manage to place the tram back to the track by manpower.The folks talk about how far they are from the town (and any inhabited area), yet there are an extreme amount of refugees around, coming from anywhere and everywhere!They search an unguarded warehouse full of food. (Remember, it's fight time!) This meal gives them an undepletable stock. Wherever they are, they everytime have drinkwater. When they pass trough the wall of fire it's so hot, that the tram looses its painting, but the many wooden parts remain intact, and no one gets hurt.Whatever happens, they everytime have the appropriate softwares to fix the problem: they can repaint the tram after the fire, they can make rafts, they can even dissemble and reassemble the entire f*ckin' tram! (Not kidding, they do it!)Average folks swim trough the Danube in winter (!!!), and than push the tram half naked.A boy sells a roll of linen to the others. In the next stage everyone wears a piece of cloth made from it.A girl looses her glasses, and goes fully blind. (But she still FEELS the colors!)Even the time is fully blurred: they seem to travel days, maybe weeks, but one girl gives birth to 2 twins without having any sign of pregnancy before, and by the end of the film those babies become about 3 years old children.Hungary is a tiny country, Budapest (the capitol) can be reached by walk (or by pushing a tram) from anywhere in no more than a week. A city, or at least a village is reachable from anywhere in much less than a day walk. But they travel for days, maybe weeks, and never search any inhabited place! Not even a damn homestead!Well, unreal things are fully acceptable in a tale, and the game says it's a tale. But no, it's not a tale: here everything suggests that it could be taken seriously. And a tale has a proper beginning, a story, and a proper conclusion; but this film hasn't any, it just goes from nowhere to nowhere!



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