Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|An American Rhapsody|
Actors: Nastassja Kinski, Scarlett Johansson, Raffaella Bánsági, Tony Goldwyn, Ágnes Bánfalvy
Director: Éva Gárdos
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Her idyllic childhood changed when she was sent to America
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the writer/director, Eva Gardos' own story. It begins with the young actress Scarlett Johansson, cast as Suzanne, standing on a bridge in Budapest. The year is 1965. "I was 15 and my life was already falling apart," she says, "so I came back to Hungary where it all began." What follows is an extended flashback to 1950. A married couple, Margit and Peter, played by Natassja Kinski and Tony Goldwyn, have to escape from Hungary. They have two young daughters and can only take the older one who is five years old. They have to leave the baby behind because it would be too dangerous if the baby cried. We see their escape and feel their tension -- bribing guards, running across a field, traveling in a train dressed as peasants. We see their love for their baby and the distress when they find out that their plans for having her smuggled out to join them in Vienna are thwarted. To save the baby, the Grandmother, played by Agnes Banafalvy, makes arrangements to have the baby raised by a childless peasant couple, Teri and Jeno, played by Zsuzsa Czinkoczi and Balazs Galko. They come to love the little girl as their own and she grows up loving them as well. In the meantime, the Margit and Peter and their older daughter arrive in America. They never stop trying to get their younger daughter out by writing letters to public officials. Finally, after six years, they obtain permission to bring their little girl to America.What follows is perhaps the strongest part of the film as the child who knows only the peasant family as her own and who doesn't speak a word of English, is suddenly taken from her idyllic childhood and thrust into a life in a small Los Angeles suburb. The young actress who plays the 6-year old Suzanne, Kelly Endresz-Banlaki is wonderful. I really felt the confusion and upset of the young child who misses her homeland and tries her best to adapt to her new life. These scenes are touching and mixed with comedy and pathos and I couldn't keep my tears from flowing. The scene suddenly shifts to nine years later. Suzanne is now a rebellious teenager in constant conflict with her mother. When she picks up a rifle and tries to shoot her way out of her locked bedroom, it is obvious she is in crisis. At her pleas, the family allow her to go back to visit Hungary.I enjoyed the film tremendously, felt emotion for each of the characters - the parents, the grandmother, the peasants who loved her, and even the older sister with her own form of sibling rivalry. Mostly though, I felt for the little six-year-old girl who had to adapt to a whole new way of life. The characters spoke both Hungarian and English, which added an authentic feel and the cinematography clearly depicted the contrasts between Los Angeles and Hungary. Throughout, there was also the feeling of the oppressive totalitarian system, which had divided the family. The ending was happy, although a little contrived, but it seemed appropriate. I can't think of any other way it could have ended. Recommended."
A lesson on the meaning of home and family
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 09/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AN AMERICAN RHAPSODY, directed by Éva Gárdos, is a poignant film about family, the concept of "home", and the promise America held out to the refugees fleeing Stalin's Eastern Europe in the years following World War II.The movie begins in the late 40's as infant Suzanne is left behind in Budapest with her grandmother as her parents, Margit and Peter, flee with an older daughter to the West and the suburbs of Los Angeles. The grandmother, Helen, is soon arrested, and the baby is taken in by a childless couple, Jeno and Teri, who live in the countryside. Suzanne remains with her doting foster parents for six years, becoming as attached to them as if she was their own child. When Stalin finally dies, the grandmother is released, and soon removes Suzanne from her rural home and sends her alone to California to be reunited with the biological parents. After an initial fascination with American affluence, food and toys, Suzanne becomes deeply homesick. Her father makes a deal with her; try to accept life with the family and, when she is older, he promises to send her back to Hungary to visit the "parents" she pines for. The girl struggles at it for nine years, demonstrating increasing passive hostility towards her over-controlling mother, who wishes to protect her from the evils of the day, boys and cigarettes. (My, how times have changed!). Finally, after a confrontation between Suzanne and Margit that escalates to near violence while Peter is off on a business trip, Dad finally keeps his promise. What 15 year old Suzanne discovers back in Hungary is the crux of the story.All of the adult actors are superb: Nastassja Kinski (Margit), Tony Goldwyn (Peter), Agi Banfalvy (Helen), Zsusza Czinkoczi (Teri), and Balazs Galko (Jeno, with the engaging handlebar moustache). Scarlett Johanssen, who previously played the traumatized Grace Maclean in Robert Redford's THE HORSE WHISPERER, is again convincing as the emotionally tortured teenaged Suzanne. Above all, Kelly Endresz Banlaki is absolutely delightful as Suzanne's 6 year old persona.I was privileged to attend a private screening of AN AMERICAN RHAPSODY, after which Éva Gárdos answered questions from the audience. The film was based on her life and, yes, she really did do to her bedroom door what was depicted on the screen. And Kelly Banlaki was the last of several hundred children auditioned in Budapest during the Hungarian location shoot frantically completed over a few short weeks. Gárdos lovingly remembers her real-life foster parents, who died six months after her return "home". She's come to terms with her biological parents, and realizes that her life is richer for having been loved by both sets.AN AMERICAN RHAPSODY is a must-see contribution to this year's cinematic season - a quality three-hankie event for those who tear easily. I recommend it without reservation."
A Wonderful, Beautiful Film!
M. Lee | Santa Monica, CA | 02/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, it was so refreshing to watch a movie that didn't seem like it came straight from the same old Hollywood recycling bin. This movie was original, unique, and very well cast and directed. This film also tells the story of a piece of history and a part of the world that is often overlooked and stereotyped. In a day and age where many films are made about "ethnic minority" immigrants, it was interesting to watch a film depicting the struggles of immigrants from a country in Europe (Hungary) that went through so much turmoil and hardship. The transition of different time periods and places (half the movie is set in Hungary - the other half in Los Angeles) was also smooth and well executed. Lastly, the cast was superb. Each character fit their individual roles perfectly and it was also interesting to see a pre-"Lost in Translation" Scarlett Johanssen. I highly recommend this film!"
A Beautiful Film
Rachel | Ohio | 01/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautiful film in every prospect. This is about a girl who was seperated from her family in Hungary and after years of seperation she rejoines her family in America. Her mother has never been happier to have her daughter around neither has her father but she is as unhappy as can be she misses her home and wants to go back. When her father realizes how unhappy she is he makes her a promise that if when she is older if she still wants to go back to Hungary he will get her a ticket back there. A few years pass and lots of things happen and she begins to hate her mother for everything she has ever done. The ending is wonderful and so is the rest of the movie I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I would recommend this to people who are 12 or older and are mature enough to understand the plot and take it seriously because this movie is based on a true story, enjoy the movie everyone!"