14th February, Monday, 7 p.m., Balassi Institute

 

In English with Slovenian subtitles.

 

February’s Film Club arrives with one of the most well-known films in the history of cinema, Casablanca, a certified masterpiece and a timeless classic. Altogether this might sound as an usual choice since the film club regularly presents Hungarian productions, however, the exception proves the rule. With this screening we’ll open the opportunity to discover a new glance on important film figures from Hungary whose work reshaped the world cinema abroad. Actors as Zsa Zsa Gabor or Tony Curtis, directors such as George Cukor or directors of photography as Lajos Koltai are some of the great names from the history of Cinema. One of the biggest among them is surely Michael Curtiz. Curtiz, renowned for classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierec or We’re No Angels and a dozen of other titles, brings an opus so impressive that can be hardly matched even by the greatest of filmmakers.

Even though Curtiz’s name stands as a synonym of the era of classic Hollywood his career began long before his creative period in USA. Born in 1886 as Manó Kaminer he was already an avid fan of theatre at the tender age of which speaks the anecdote that he built a small theatre in his family’s attic where he performed for his friend. Not much later Curtiz joined a travelling theatre and afterwards worked for the Hungarian national theatre as well. But at the same time he discovered another passion for the newly born art form of cinema and its potential and qualities. Thus he renamed himself for the first time in 1912 and directed the first Hungarian feature film Today and Tomorrow as Mihály Kertész (he took part of the Hungarian fencing team at the Stockholm Olympics the same year). In the years to follow Curtiz was greatly troubled by the experience of the WWI in which he served for the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the Russian front where he was injured in 1915.The impressions of the world gone mad and the absurdities of war became one of the frequent motives of his films in which the protagonists find themselves in the turmoil of historical events under the influence of personal crisis and moral dilemmas. Until 1926 he directed more than 64 films, his reputation preceded him and his name was well known in the emerging studio system of Hollywood from where the Warner brothers came to Europe with an offer he couldn't refuse. He moved to the U.S. Before the rise of Nazism and he changed his name once again to Michael Curtiz which was easier pronounceable. In 30's he directed an average of four films per year, among those some of the most famous title of the early period of cinema. In 1940 he made Casablanca, an iconic masterpiece in which he subversively deals with Nazism and collaborationism. The film became a classic, winning five of the most prestigeous academy awards. The story of the film is now a well known matter of pop culture, so to put it short: Humprey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and a beginning of a beautiful friendship. We'll play it again!