Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sexual repression and defiance in post-revolution Hungary - Egymásra nézve [1982]

Among Eastern European directors, Hungarian Károly Makk has been a favourite in western film festivals over the years, for his elegantly subdued direction, and the haunting atmospheric images that he uses to reflect the politics and circumstances of his characters. His drama "Egymásra nézve" [Eng. Title: Another Way] is set against the backdrop of a recently crushed 1956 Revolution, and concerns a lesbian affair between colleagues at a Budapest-based news magazine.

The film starts with the discovery of the body of Eva (Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak) in the woods - she had been shot in the head. Meanwhile, at a hospital, Livia (Grazyna Szopolowska) is recuperating after a near-fatal injury - we're told that she'll never be able to walk again.

The film rewinds to a year earlier, and we see Eva, arriving for her new job as an investigative journalist at a news magazine. She will share her office with Livia, an attractive, married young woman, who also works for the publication. Eva had made no secret of the fact that she is lesbian, and has been attracted to Livia the moment she set eyes on her. Livia likes Eva too - she admires Eva's skill, intellect, and integrity, but is hesitant to reciprocate Eva's desires - understandable, considering that Livia has a lot to loose, and that's not only her marriage. But they do fall in love, and before long, Livia decides to end the marriage and tells husband Donci (Péter Andorai) about her affair. Unable to accept the separation, he shoots Livia in the bath.

The husband is taken into custody, and a bitter Livia will reject Eva too, who by now has already got herself fired from her job for refusing to alter some facts from an article she'd recently written. While travelling through the countryside during the night, she's hailed by border guards from a distance and asked to stop, but is shot when she fails to do so.

Based on a novel by Erzsébet Galgóczi, this was the first film in communist Eastern Europe to openly deal with homosexuality, so one can guess the controversy the film must have courted during its release. Makk makes a succinct, but nuanced comment on the after effects that the brutally put-down revolution has continued to cast on its people. I find the Palme d'Or nominated film - both in terms of artistry and technical merit, to be just as accomplished as the finest from the French New Wave. Needless to say, this slightly obscure little gem from a director of repute is Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]



The Nudity: Grazyna Szapolowska and Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak
There are three scenes of nudity from the beautiful and young Grazyna Szapolowska who plays Livia, and one of these is a lesbian scene with Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak (as Jadwiga Jankowska), who plays Eva.

Grazyna Szapolowska and Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak in Egymásra nézve aka Another Way


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