After many years of stagnation, the Hungarian movie industry finally seems to have found itself again. A new generation of directors and excellent producers brought back colour and excitement into Hungarian movies and showed their vision to the public with great success. Some of these films even received worldwide recognition and won many awards abroad.
Kafkadesk collected the top ten best Hungarian movies which helped the rebirth of the country’s movie-making process.
Liza, the Fox-Fairy (2015)
This new-generation movie tells the story of a cursed servant (played by Mónika Balsai, a rising Hungarian actress) in a fictionalised, quirky ’60s Budapest setting. All men who fall in love with Liza suddenly die by the hands of the ghost of a Japanese singer. This movie is a weird merge of Hungarian humour and Japanese folk stories, resulting in a heartfelt comedy with a sweet love story in its centre. It also has a cameo by legendary Hungarian actress Piroska Molnár. This film was one of the first signs of the revival of Hungarian cinema.
For Some Inexplicable Reason (2014)
This movie depicts a few months in the life of a mildly depressed post-breakup Áron in his late 20s, who, after graduating from university, is not doing anything with his life. Often going for a simple home video look, this film about a Hungarian millennial depicts some uniquely generational and regional problems. Therefore, it is no surprise it mostly won awards at film festivals in the region, such as in Karlovy Vary and Sofia. This movie is considered to be one of the best Hungarian films made in the 2010s.
In the early sixties, Péter Kovács committed a series of the most hideous crimes in Hungarian history. Kovács raped and murdered four women between 1957 and 1967. During the investigation, the police faced pressure from the state to find the perpetrator as soon as possible, as it was perceived impossible that a serial killer could run free in the safe haven that was Communist Hungary. This exciting and unique Hungarian thriller is also a must for movie lovers.
This is the second production of Academy Award-winner László Nemes. The story follows Írisz Leiter, who returns to her family’s hat saloon in 1913 in the hope of continuing the family’s business. The movie tries to answer a question that strongly resonates with our present times: how could a society living in the most prosperous era of European history fall into the catastrophic abyss of the First World War? His answer is unexpected, clever, and painfully true.
One Day (2018)
At first glance, there are few more boring subject materials for a film than an average day in the life of a middle-class mother. Luckily, that did not stop the director from doing a film with this exact premise. Each muscle-tick on the actress’s face conveys all the emotions of a post-financial crisis lower-middle-class Hungarian parent could ever feel. One Day is a beautiful ode to the mothers who work the hardest yet are appreciated the least.
Son of Saul (2015)
Oscar-winning Hungarian masterpiece Son of Saul tells the story of a man trying to stay human in the midst of inhumanity. When Saul, a member of the Sonderkommando in a concentration camp, finds the body of a child, he becomes obsessed with burying him. Nemes’s direction shows Géza Röhrig’s face throughout the film as we only hear distant sounds of the horrors happening in the background. It is a difficult and heartbreaking movie but a must for those who are interested in history and European cinema.
Bad Poems (2014)
Bad Poems tells the story of a post-breakup man in his early 30s who takes a trip down memory lane to find out how he ended up where he is. With interesting characters, unexpected events, and excellent humour, this movie perfectly describes Hungarian society and different kinds of change in life everybody will be facing at some point.
Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018)
There are many iconic Hungarian animation movies from the 20th century, which won several international awards and received widespread critical acclaim. Ruben Brandt finally matches the quality of these iconic pieces of animation. In the story, we follow Ruben Brandt, a renowned psychiatrist, and his patients as they try and gather iconic paintings from all around the world to help Brandt tackle his insomnia. But Ruben Brandt’s best feature is not the plot itself; it is the animation: thanks to the film’s original style, each frame is beautiful and a unique piece of art.
This movie is said to be the most important piece of Hungarian cinema. 1945 deals with a much-needed and very familiar theme in all of central Europe: national guilt. Shot entirely in black and white, it is set in a remote Hungarian village where two Jews return after the Second World War. As the events unfold, the entire village must come to terms with what they did during the war.
On Body and Soul (2017)
Ildikó Enyedi’s production won the title of ‘best Hungarian movie in the past decade’ from many critics. In this beautiful love story, x and y realise that they have been dreaming the same thing every night. In their dreams, far away from their grim workplace, they are two deer who meet in a snowy forest. The production was nominated for an Academy Award as well, while Alexandra Borbély, the main actress of the movie, received the award of ‘best actress’ for the movie.
Featured image: Youtube – On Body and Soul (2017)
Must-watch historical movies related to Hungary – Videos
Historical movies are popular materials in Hollywood and across the world. Many countries made their own movie or series which describe the life or career of a famous native man or woman. If you are in the mood for an exciting film and learning interesting facts about Hungary and Hungarian history, here are some you should not miss.