literature, cinema, fine arts

The Last Night (Az utolsó éjszaka, 1917)

120 years of Hungarian cinema

no interval
  • Produced by Müpa Budapest
  • Müpacinema

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When discussing Hungarian films made between the two world wars, one usually thinks of lighter genres: comedies, farces, satires. Not without reason. When it comes to sound films of the era, there were very few dramas. However, the few remaining silent films from Hungary and evidence from documentaries suggest that this particularly medium was no stranger at all to dramatic films. Jenő Janovics was involved in serious dramatic works in the film industry as a writer, producer and director. His films were very successful. So much so that Janovics used the income from the box office to support the theatre plays he directed.

The Last Night, a fragmented surviving copy of which returned home from abroad, is a weighty drama. A story of desire, infidelity, sin and atonement. Our heroine, Gitta, is a once-successful actress who marries a landowner, but despite the fact that she has a loving husband and son, she cannot resist the stage and the temptation of a roguish man. Drama. She leaves her family, then her seducer takes advantage of her in the worst possible way. The viewer begins to wonder: is there a way out, a way back? Don't forget that we are still in the silent film era. (Just as an aside: Janovics's film studio made 65 silent films in five years of operations.) The dialogue is restricted to the intertitles, which means the actors have to physically express these complicated emotional states and twists. But from one year to the next, the actors began to gain a better understanding of the essence of moving pictures. They refine the extreme gestures, with the make-up of the theatre slowly transitioning to the make-up of film. The Last Night centres on two superb portrayals. Gitta is played by the actress Lili Berky, the seductive Vándori by Mihály Fekete - brilliantly. Jenő Janovics perfectly combines dramatic moments with an attractive spectacle for the viewer: a theatrical/orpheum dance scene in which Gitta also dances in men's clothes, and this 'breeches role' is intertwined with the drama, plus a little car chase… Not to mention the tension of the unfolding love story. Though we don't want to give anything away!

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

Presented by: Müpa Budapest

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  • Host
    Márton Kurutz
  • Director
    Jenő Janovics


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