literature, cinema, fine arts

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Being Woody Allen

  • Produced by Müpa Budapest

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It seems like such a simple little film. A bittersweet story from a 1930s America that is still yet to recover from the Great Depression. It brings us no serious commentary about life, death or the expansion of the universe. Why would it? The director did not assign himself a role this time around. And so we have to go without any of those moments when Woody Allen looks into the camera — meaning into the viewer's eyes — and blows our minds with some piece of wisdom or a joke. But don't worry: there is still direct interaction.

In this story, a character in a film descends from the cinema screen, leaving the other protagonists to address the audience in their bewilderment. That is, to address us. And from here on out, it is no longer such a simple movie.
If we were to put together a series of films that examine the question of how film and cinema work, the Purple Rose of Cairo would definitely be included. (Woody Allen would be in truly great company alongside Truffaut, Fellini, Tornatore, Tarantino and others.) The black-and-white film rolling within a colour film raises diabolically complicated questions. For example, the extent to which we, the viewers, are involved in the story, and how we further complicate the story begun in our heads by the film. Or what is the reality of the cinema screen? Can we expect film to be faithful to reality at all? Strangely enough, this latter question has turned into a sharp, even censorious, question these days. (After the screening, of course, we can discuss why Woody Allen treats the non-white characters so disrespectfully.) And then we could also chew over whether the film is constructed around the dreams of the viewers or if it instead creates the dreams that we, the audience, bring to life. Along with the question of what would happen if we could enter the world of our beloved works, as one of Woody Allen's heroes does in the Kugelmass episode.

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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