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Istvan Bibo’s Fragments

A study of one of the great Hungarian political thinkers of the 20th century, Istvan Bibo, this self-described "film poem" consists of archive material accompanied by a narration with quotes from Bibo's writings and biographical details. A fascinating experience for those interested in recent Hungarian history, there's little chance of wider exposure.

A study of one of the great Hungarian political thinkers of the 20th century, Istvan Bibo, this self-described “film poem” consists of archive material, most of it badly scratched and decomposing 8m home movie footage, accompanied by a virtually non-stop narration with quotes from Bibo’s writings and biographical details. A fascinating experience for those interested in recent Hungarian history, there’s little chance of wider exposure, with even the most tolerant TV programmers likely to find the decaying images are too difficult to watch.

Philosopher Bibo’s (1911-1979) thoughts on Hungarian history and the country’s place in the scheme of things are heard on the sonorously narrated soundtrack (Hungarian, French and English versions are available). Musings are accompanied by charming but barely surviving images from the ’20s and ’30s, shot by amateurs. The material includes Bibo’s wedding in 1940. The film becomes riveting toward the end when we hear a speech made he in 1956, when he was a minister in the ill-fated government toppled by Russian intervention. Not exactly a documentary, the film will work best as an educational tool rather than as a cinema or television experience.

Istvan Bibo’s Fragments

Directors Fortnight/Hungary

  • Production: A For-Creation, Nextreme Film production. (International sales: For-Creation, Budapest.) Produced, directed, written by Peter Forgacs.
  • Crew: Editor, Kati Juhasz; music, Tibor Szemzo, Bela Bartok. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 22, 2002. Original title: Bibo breviarium. Running time: 69 MIN. English narrator: Paul Merrick.
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