×

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

  • The True Adventures of Wolfboy

    Film Review: 'The True Adventures of Wolfboy'

    Most teenage boys would kill for a few whiskers, but not Paul. At 13, he already has a full face of hair, and his peers treat him like a freak for it. So, too, does Martin Krejčí’s “The True Adventures of Wolfboy,” although the movie argues that perhaps being a freak isn’t such a bad [...]

  • 'Top Gun: Maverick' Trailer: Tom Cruise

    Tom Cruise Drops First Trailer for 'Top Gun: Maverick' at Comic-Con (Watch)

    Tom Cruise made a surprise appearance at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday to hype the forthcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” and receive mass adoration from Hall H. “I felt it was my responsibility to deliver for you,” Cruise told the crowd, tugging local heartstrings by reminiscing on the original “Top Gun” shoot in Downtown San Diego. [...]

  • Tribeca Film Institute

    Tribeca Film Institute, Pond5 Announce Latest Indie Film Grantees (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and Pond5 have once again teamed up to offer microgrants to indie filmmakers and artists. The grants, which go as high as $7,500, are intended to help storytellers during “in-between” phases of their projects, such as research, festival travel or community screenings. They’re the kind of unexpected costs that can lead [...]

  • On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los

    On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los Angeles in Second Quarter

    Held down by a lack of soundstage space, total on-location filming in greater Los Angeles declined 3.9% in the second quarter to 8,632 shoot days, permitting agency FilmLA reported Thursday. “Although our latest report reveals a decline in filming on location, local production facilities tell us that they are operating at capacity,” said FilmLA president [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    U.S. Box Office, Movie Admissions, Ticket Price Fall in Second Quarter

    U.S. movie admissions slid 2.5% in the second quarter of 2019 to 347.8 million, with box office receipts declining 3.8% to $3.22 billion on the heels of a record-setting year, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) reported Thursday. The overall ticket price for the quarter slipped 1.3%, or 12 cents, to $9.26, compared to [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Will Definitely Be R-Rated, Tim Miller Reveals at Comic-Con

    “Terminator: Dark Fate” is not just a reboot of a beloved franchise, it’s a return to hardcore form that will receive an R rating from the MPAA. Announced at San Diego Comic Con’s opening Hall H panel on Thursday, the move is a departure from the PG-13 status of recent reboot attempts like “Terminator: Genisys” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content