Budapest circa 1913 – “Sunset”-a brilliant, intriguing film by László Nemes

One of the better reviews on this film comes from Paul Whitington at https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/movie-reviews/sunset-review-kafkaesque-melodramatic-enthralling-38163466.html where he writes:-

Laszlo Nemes’ sumptuously photographed drama is set in 1913 in Budapest, where the existential anxieties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are embodied in the slender form of Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab), a young woman with a dark past.

She bears the name of the city’s most stylish hat store, Leiter’s: her parents died there in a fire when she was two, and Irisz was raised elsewhere but now returns, looking for work, and answers.

Instead she finds secrets, a wall of silence, and dark rumours about a murderous brother she never knew she had.

Full of dark portents of the continental carnage to come, Sunset is Kafkaesque, melodramatic, enthralling.”

This is not an easy film to understand and it certainly is not in the usual genre of an historical film. Much is about the contrast between the superficial elegance and the arduous and dangerous conflicts beneath this attractive outward view. However, it has to be said that I very much enjoyed the visual presentation of the surface; the milliner’s store with its stupendous colourful hats and the horse drawn carriages. History crept in when a news-vendor announces that the Austro-Hungarian empire is to launch another battleship- jogging the memory that this primarily land locked empire held a port at Trieste. As I have yet to visit Budapest, although I have visited both Vienna and Bratislava, this area intrigues me. This point in time too is the subject to much of the concerns of the novels of Joseph Roth and the magnificent films of that other brilliant Hungarian director, from a previous generation, stván Szabó. Also, for good measure, the Empress Sisi arrives from Vienna in a somewhat grumpy personification. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archduchess_Elisabeth_Marie_of_Austria

Image result for laszlo nemes sunset

In thinking about this film, I remembered that the famous psychoanalyist, Melanie Klein was living in Budapest at this time. She received her psychoanalytic education with Sándor Ferenczi in Budapest during World War I. She specialized in his advice in child analysis and became one of the first in this field. I mention this because much of the film really deals with states of mind like confusion, exclusion and certain feminist attitudes. It is interesting to see what the film is saying about issues in the contemporary world and in its concentration upon one individual’s perceptions and their attempts to understand relationships with siblings, we seem to be in territory where Klein’s work is uniquely valuable. Here is her photograph wearing an elegant hat.

Image result for Melanie Klein in Budapest

A slideshow of Klein’s life and theories may be found at https://slideplayer.com/slide/6193313/

 

Watching this film, one is reminded that the film-maker has stated that he has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick and indeed some of the themes do seem rather similar to those Kubrick examines in “91/2 Weeks”. This latter film was an adaptation, of course, of Arthur Schnitzler’s  “Traumnovelle” (Dream Story” but without the anti-anti-Semitic aspects of the earlier work which seems based upon Viennese secret societies. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/24/alternative-ending-discovered-to-book-behind-eyes-wide-shut  

 

 

 

Advertisements

Andrey Remnev and Olga Suvorova- two contemporary golden and iconic Russian Painters

Now the garden was long and the visibility poor, the way
the dark of the ground seems to drink the light of the sky,
but that twig in his hand was gold. And then he plucked
a pear from a branch. – we grew Fondante d’Automne –
and it sat in his palm, like a lightbulb. On.
I thought to myself, Is he putting fairy lights in the tree?

 

(From Mrs Midas, by Carol Ann Duffy)

Meredith as perceived by Richard Le Gallienne

I found Meredith a rather overwhelming person,

at least to me- a diffident youth.

A brilliant and fantastic talker-

one needed to be more his age;

more his intellectual match

to parry his verbal swordplay

and to comprehend his whimsical soliloquies.

 

He received me with the sympathy of a father-

soon put me at my ease.

His talk was like his books;

elaborately fanciful, knotted with thought,

a thicket of thorn bushes

hung with sudden starry blossoms.

One had to snatch what one could.

 

I was magnetised by the rush and verve

of his resonant voice, and dominated

by his lordly manner.

It seemed to me, slightly theatrical,

almost affected bravura.

Ulysses must have been such a man,

tall, lean and a rugged fighter.

 

With that far off crafty look

he seemed to me characteristically Welsh;

Roughly bearded, high browed,

keen grey eyes, slightly upturned fighting nose.

An immense intellectual alertness pervaded

his vigorous frame and was

his most characteristic expression.

 

His portrait,

known to everyone that reads,

by Hollyer is himself,

exactly.

Image result for george meredith

 

(Source of found poem- The Romantic 90s by Richard Le Gallienne)

More about Hollyer can be found at the V and A website https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/frederick-hollyer-life-and-work

 

 

 

Viewing Joseph Wright’s paintings in Derby

Image result for joseph wright of derbyThe light from within the Orrery

illuminates the children’s faces.

This glow in the darkness

spreads and each canvas is lit.

This picture depicts some wonder of generosity;

a marvel that touches deeply your curiosity.

Here around are landscapes, portraits and myths

gathered in profuse display and all Wright.

Here Arkwright sits near the spools of cotton

woven at his water-powered mill,

seemingly the quintessence of optimistic enterprise.

Beyond Arkwright’s son and wife look

more prosperous yet more mannered too as

Gainsborough might depict.

Across here a scene from Laurence Sterne

has captured Wright’s inquisitive imagination.

Nearby Vesuvius again erupts into crimson

and emerald below in the bay boats float

with fishermen undistracted in their industrious

capture of shoals beneath the calm seas.

I too am captured by a certain canvas in which

an Indian squaw sits widowed on a hillside under

her hero husband’s suspended arms and

awaits the breaking tumult from the threatening clouds.

Image result for joseph wright of derby

Alphonse Osbert-born in Paris in 1857 and died there in 1939

This French painter studied at the School of Fine Arts and under Henri Lehmann, Fernand Cormorant and Léon Bonnat. His entrance to the salon of 1880, Portrait of MO (“without a trace”), reflected his early attraction the realist tradition of Spanish painting of the 17th century. Impressionism’s impact encouraged him to lighten his palette and paint outdoor landscapes. At the end of the decade of 1880, Habibo cultivated the friendship of several symbolist poets and the well-known painter Puvis de Chavannes, which made him abandon his naturalist approach and adopt the aesthetic idealism of poetic painting. Abandoning topics extracted from daily life, Osbert proposed to transmit personal visions and developed his own set of pictorial symbols. Inspired by Puvis, simplified forms of landscape, which served as backgrounds for static and isolated figures dissolved by a  mysterious light. A pointillist technique, taken from Seurat, a friend of Lehmann’s, tended to dematerialize forms and add luminosity. However, Osbert avoided the full range of nuances of the so called “divisionists” of their choice of blues, violets, yellows and silvery green. The mysticism of Osbert is located in the center of the painting. The Rosacrucian ideal of “art as an evocation of mystery, as a prayer” finds no better expression than the virginal figure of faith, often interpreted as Saint Geneviève or Saint Jeanne, situated in a meadow with a lamb and wrapped in a supernatural radiance. Such works were praised by the Symbolist writers who considered them as visual counterparts of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck. Osbert was called “painter of the Nights ” “Alma artist ” and “Poet of Silence” for his evocation of an atmosphere of mystery and reverie.

(With thanks to the incomparable Ines Vigo for this transcription from You Tube)

Image result for osbert alphonse

Der September-Kästner

“Der September

Das ist ein Abschied mit Standarten
aus Pflaumenblau und Apfelgrün.
Goldlack und Astern flaggt der Garten,
und tausend Königskerzen glühn.

Winsculpture-Tremenheere- September 2018

Das ist ein Abschied mit Posaunen,
mit Erntedank und Bauernball.
Kuhglockenläutend ziehn die braunen
und bunten Herden in den Stall.

Das ist ein Abschied mit Gerüchen
aus einer fast vergessenen Welt.
Mus und Gelee kocht in den Küchen.
Kartoffelfeuer qualmt im Feld.

Das ist ein Abschied mit Getümmel,
mit Huhn am Spieß und Bier im Krug.
Luftschaukeln möchten in den Himmel.
Doch sind sie wohl nicht fromm genug.

Die Stare gehen auf die Reise.
Altweibersommer weht im Wind.
Das ist ein Abschied laut und leise.
Die Karussells drehn sich im Kreise.
Und was vorüber schien, beginnt.”

(Aus: Kästner, DIE DREIZEHN MONATE)

Well here is a rough translation by a good friend.
It´s September

This is a farewell with flags
coloured plum-blue and apple-green.
The garden is flagging wallflowers and asters,
and thousand mulleins glow.

This is a farewell with trombones,
with guldize and farmers´ ball.
Tolling their cowbells the brown
and colourful herds are stable bound.

This is a farewell with scents
of a long forlorn world.
Jams and Jellies simmer in the kitchens.
Potato fire smoulders in the field.

This is a farewell with turmoil,
with chicken on skewer and beer in jug.
Swingboats want to go to heaven
But they might not be piously enough.

The starlings start their journey.
Gossamer waves in the wind.
This is farewell noisy and gentle.
The merry-go-rounds are spinning in circles.
And what seemed past, starts.

January 1950 in the London Illustrated News

Turning the key into the archive reveals the four or five rows of “London Illustrated News” as the familiar damp smell assaults the nasal passages. The volumes are bandaged with a loop that reminds me of the tie on school lab aprons years ago. Slipping the loop off the 1950 volume, I try to give the cover support with a terry roll that the bookbinders have in piles on the large desk. The early pages are filled with diagrams and details of the unfortunate sinking of the submarine H.M.S. Truculent. As described in Wikipedia, “The British submarine Truculent collided with the Swedish oil tanker Divina in the Thames Estuary and sank, killing 64 people. Only 15 crewmen were able to escape. All of them had been in the conning tower of the sub, which had been cruising on the surface of the Thames.”

On January 11th the Prime Minister announced forthcoming elections. the next month and there is a fine page depicting the various poses of Herbert Morrison. One suspects that the low tech electioneering was compensated by the quality of oratory if this series of photographs is anything by which to judge.. Morrison was an impressive figure- on the right of the party but not perhaps in the manner we have seen in recent years. He is possibly now most remembered for the so called Morrison Shelter. http://spartacus-educational.com/2WWmorrisonshelter.htm

After the photos of Mussolini and Hitler in absurd poses and repeated images such were popular in the Post and other magazines, I wonder if there was not a hinted subtext here- especially as an election was approaching. Certainly, Morrison was an important figure being both deputy leader and soon to become Foreign Secretary- not a happy time in his career. His grandson, of course, is Peter Mandelson.

Some articles portray the sexism current at the time. BOAC air stewards being taught by what looks like patronising men, how to walk down a rocking board with a tray. An article on Japan praises the docile and considerate womenfolk who are prepared to give neck massages to male members of the family.

1950 opens with the trial of Klaus Fuchs, the atom spy. Christopher Fry’s plays are popular in London. India having been given independence so rapidly is left with conflicts between Pakistan and India particularly over Kashmir. Grand murals of Stalin appear above the grand Moscow underground- the great transport leader comrade! Then Nationalists Chinese are inflamed by the recognition of Communist mainland China by the British.

Image result for klaus fuchs

Klaus Fuchs who had been at Los Alamos voluntarily confesses to having been a spy.

The graphic artist most in evidence at this stage was Bryan de Grineau who had been a war artist and made sketches at this time of the war wounded being rehabilitated at University ollege Hospital, St Pancras. More information may be found at http://www.grandprixhistory.org/grineau.htm