Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Yuri Fomichev, Igor Csernyevics, Aleksey Serebryakov, Ágnes Máhr, Helen Baxendale
Director: Ibolya Fekete
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts
A provocative drama perfectly captures a slice of recent history. Three young dreamers cross the Russian border into Hungary after the fall of the Berlin Wall, hoping to escape the poverty of the old Soviet Union and the p... more »
Hungary: Land of Dreams?
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 06/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"We are told for a brief time in 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was happiness in Eastern Europe as everyone headed for Hungary in an attempt to go west.
"Bolshe vita" is the kind of film that does more than tell a story. It tries to capture a time in history. It is one of those films people describe as "important". The characters in the film aren't really important. Whether or not we remember their names doesn't matter. They are represent something. They are symbols of a better life. Of the struggles endured by so many during the time of the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe.
The film follows two Russian musicians (Yuri Fomichyov and Igor Csernyevics) as Jura and Yagyim, who were part of a band traveling on a tour but are having difficult going west. So the two decide to leave the band and stay in Budapest. There is another Russian, Szergej (Aleksei Serebryakov) who wants to travel to Itay but stops in Budapest first hoping to make two hundred dollars selling knives. Two American girls, Maggie (Helen Baxendale) and Susan (Caroline Loncq) are free souls who see the world as one big adventure and joke. Susan at one point says she was a little bored with Budapest and traveled to Romania when she heard about their revolution. She thought it would be fun but of course when she got there she didn't find the sight of blood and dead bodies to pleasant to look at (who would have thought!). Another character Erzsi (Angnes Mahr) takes in Russians trying to help them cross the border. She is eventually asked why she wants to help Russians, given their past with Hungarians. She says she nows looks at them with pity. They are helpness and like everyone else seek a better life.
All of these characters will meet and interact. Some will date each other, some will die and some will fight with each other. The film had the makings of being a grand sweeping epic. A heartfelt human story about searching for freedom. But first time director Ibolya Fekete has a more subtle approach. The film gets across the same themes but does give the film an "important" feel. We aren't overwhelmed by what we are seeing. In fact the film is very low key. It was not shot on high level camera equipment and at times we can tell was shot on two different film stocks. But Fekete is a good story teller. The film moves along briskly enough where we are never bored. We come to have a small investment in these characters. We root for them. We want to find a better life. Those who come from Eastern Europe may have a more personal reaction to the film. But even if you don't, we can all understand the concept of people searching for something better.
Fekete took on a lot for a debut film. It was quite ambitious. But this is a filmmaker who likes to tackle big subjects. Fekete's follow up film, "Chico" follows three decades of chaos starting with Latin-American revolutions of the 60s and 70s going through to Hungary in the 80s and stopping at the Bosian War in the 90s. Fekete seems to like stories dealing with multi-culturalism.
"Bolshe vita" when released in 1996 won several awards and many were well deserved. Here a small film that takes on big subjects. It may be hard to track down, your local Blockbuster probably won't carry it, but it is something worth looking for. Films such as this don't come around that often and when they do are rarely this good! *** 1\2 out of *****
Bottom-line: Ambitious debut film for Ibolya Fekete dealing with the search for a better life. May sound pretenious to some but actually has a lot of heart. We care about these characters and their struggles.