×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin: Hungary’s Enyedi Returns With New ‘Soul’

In 1989, Hungarian director-writer Ildiko Enyedi delighted international festival audiences with her unique debut feature, “My Twentieth Century,” which went on to nab the Camera D’or at Cannes. The film’s theme of duality, its play with the possibility of the miraculous, a tone both exhilarating and disturbing and its phantasmagoric editing, have played a part in her subsequent features such as “Magic Hunter” (1994) and “Simon the Magician” (1999). These metaphysical signature elements play out in vastly different ways in her Berlinale competition contender, “On Body and Soul.”

On Body and Soul” is based on the duality of sleeping and waking, mind and matter. It poses the question: What would happen if you met someone who every night dreamed the same dream as you and has been meeting you in that same dream world for years?

The odd twosome with the similar recurring dreams are Endre (Geza Morcsanyi), the director of an industrial slaughterhouse, and the much younger Maria (Alexandra Borbély), the new quality inspector sent by the authorities.

How did Enyedi come up with the situation that fuels the film? “This one, as all the others, started with a strong wish to share my view about the human condition, about how we live our life. Also, it started with a strong personal wish to show an overwhelming, passionate love story in the least passionate and overwhelming way,” she says.

The slaughterhouse in the film is not some archaic, blood-soaked abattoir. It is a neat, well-organized, modern workplace sticking assiduously to all regulations. It is a mirror of our Western society, which sanitizes blood and death, keeping them at a remove. One might think it would be difficult to find an actual slaughterhouse for a one-week shoot, but Enyedi discovered a most unusual one and persuaded its owner to let them film. “The owner is a self-made-man, he started as a butcher then progressed, he designed the building himself,” she says. “He also takes care personally of the hiring of any worker. Our whole crew was touched by the natural, instinctive respect and tenderness with which these workers treated these animals.”

Eyedi’s superior powers of persuasion also garnered the participation of publisher and top dramaturge Geza Morcsanyi, the non-pro playing Endre with such strength and vulnerability. “He had a defining role in shaping literary life in Hungary. He acted with vast knowledge, taste, tact, authority and wise care of his authors’ whole careers,” Enyedi says.

But perhaps Enyedi’s most important discovery for the film is the woman playing opposite Morcsanyi: theater actress Alexandra Borbély. The intensity of her performance is a revelation. Enyedi says, “During my career I was lucky enough to work with amazing actors, but watching Alexandra work was something I never experienced. As soon as she found this Maria in her, Alexandra was unable to make any mistakes. Her performance fills simple scenes with tension, sensuality, eroticism and humor at the same time.”

Enyedi has been busy in recent years directing the Hungarian remake of “In Treatment” for HBO Europe and teaching. She has numerous projects in development, including “The Story of My Wife,” a Hungarian novel by Milan Fust, which offers a sweeping, passionate love story set in the 1920s. “I very much want to continue the development of a German project I stopped because of the work with “On Body and Soul,” Enyedi says. “ It is based on the original idea of Karl Baumgartner, Baumi, that unique, flamboyant, bold producer we all miss so deeply. The title is ‘A Silent Friend’ and the protagonist of it is a tree.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Film

  • Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born

    The Message of the Oscar Nominations: You'd Better Have a Social Message

    Each year at the Left Coast crack of dawn, when the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s generally at least one major nomination many pundits were predicting that fails to materialize. When that happens, entertainment media tends to rise up as one and say the s-word: snub. In truth, it’s not usually a snub; it’s just [...]

  • Elton John and Mark Ronson

    Elton John to 'Shallow' Songwriter Mark Ronson: 'You're Going to Win the Oscar'

    Elton John is willing to bet that Mark Ronson will win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” The nominations were announced this morning. The legendary performer spoke to Ronson on the latest episode of his radio show “Elton John’s Rocket Hour” on Apple Music’s Beats 1.  “You’re having a [...]

  • Olivia Colman Colin Firth Helen Mirren

    Playing a British Monarch Is a Step on the Road to Oscar Glory - Again

    “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” Shakespeare wrote of Britain’s care-burdened monarchs. Try telling that to the Academy. Once again, playing British royalty has proved to be a tried-and-true route to Oscar glory, with Olivia Colman as the latest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for portraying an occupant of the British [...]

  • Black Panther Movie

    Oscars: 'Black Panther' Leads Best Picture Nominees to Near-Record Box Office Grosses

    This year’s Academy Award nominees proved the Oscars don’t need a popular film category to recognize movies with huge box office grosses. The 2019 crop of best picture hopefuls have generated an impressive $1.26 billion so far in North America alone. That bounty is led by “Black Panther,” which earned a sensational $700 million at [...]

  • oscar nominations 2019 stream online

    How to Watch This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films

    The 2019 Oscar nominations have been announced, and if you want to catch up on the nominees, we’ve rounded up some easy ways to watch or stream the original films, documentaries, and songs competing for an award. Period comedy “The Favourite” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” lead the pack with 10 nominations apiece, while “Green Book” [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Makes History for Poland

    Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production. The film will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content