literature, cinema, fine arts

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Being Woody Allen

  • Produced by Müpa Budapest
  • Müpa Film Club

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Deconstructing Harry is a slightly misleading title. It's true that the film is, in some way, about the deconstruction of the successful writer Harry Block, and how he falls to pieces. Except Harry's pieces are drawn from his literary work. It is also clear that Harry has sourced the fragments of his writing work from his life: lovers, loves, wives, embarassing or ludicrous moments.

At the beginning of our story, Harry (Woody Allen) receives a great tribute. The university that once threw him out is now keen to recognise the prestigious writer with an honorary degree. The problem is that here is absolutely nothing we can be certain of, because Harry has no real way of distinguishing the various figures and dramas of his work. This makes perfect sense, given that the depressive Jew - who is undergoing psychoanalysis - often gives himself a rather more attractive appearance in his writing. Perhaps these strange adventures didn't happen in quite this way... Then again, maybe they did, as otherwise all of Harry's women, wives and relations wouldn't be so angry with him... And just to make everything even more complicated, at times we are also presented with a flashback of someone else recalling one of Harry's stories. Everyone sees something, remembers something different. Sometimes even the writer, too... You could see Deconstructing Harry as a sketch film. Constructed from independent episodes. Yet that's not quite right, because we are doing nothing other than wandering through Harry's life and works, not to mention other people's memories that all reference Harry's life and work. An endless row of mirrors, and each one presents a different image. This film bears similarities to Woody Allen's 1980 film Stardust Memories, though Deconstructing Harry is arguably sillier and more surreal. In other words, this is no simple movie. Just when the innocent viewer feels that they have successfully managed to grasp the thread of the story, the author gently gives them a punch to the kidneys: "Hey, stop staring! While you're enjoying your movie, I'm still writing the story. Have you been paying attention!?"

In English, with Hungarian subtitles.

The discussions before and after the screening will be conducted in Hungarian.

Presented by: Müpa Budapest
  • director
    Woody Allen
  • host
    András Réz

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