Made a stop today at the Alexandra Non-Stop Könyvebolt (24-hour bookstore) so I could continue my quest for Hungarian films on DVD.
As of this writing, there are only a couple of dozen Hungarian films that have found distribution to the UK/American market. Folks like me who are curious about this rich body of work are forced to scrounge for what we can get. However, this seems to be changing, and there is one company here of that seems to have the interest, the financial backing, and the will to release classic Hungarian films - the Magyar Filmek Gyüjteménye.
Magyar Filmek Gyüjteménye seem to have some special connection to the national archive, which controls almost the entire catalog of Hungarian film in the communist era (1946-1991), and as a result some of the best Hungarian films of the 20th century are now being made available. The quality is good, and English translations/subtitles are first-rate.
As a DVD label, you could describe them as a Hungarian version of Criterion - a marque that re-releases restored versions of unique films of high quality, at prices slightly higher than the hoi polloi can afford. Like the films of Criterion's catalog, while you may not love or even like all of them, you can't deny their originality or power.
So I picked up a copy of Budapesti Mesék (Budapest Tales), from Hungary's most famous director István Szabó (known mostly to Americans for his Mephisto and the Ralph Fiennes tour-de-force, Sunshine). Also got Két Félidö a Pokolban (The Last Goal), and Édes Anna (Sweet Anna) starring the incomparable Mari Törőcsik. Being a big István Szabó fan, I know something about Budapesti Mesék. But the others are a roll of the dice - I don't have a clue as to what they're about. However I have confidence in these navy blue labels (and in Mari Töröcsik) so into the basket they went.
Still keeping an eye out for a copy of my personal holy grail of Hungarian film - Almodozások Kora (The Dreamers) featuring my fave actor, András Bálint.
Also want to see Utazás a Koponyám Körül (Journey Inside my Skull) again, a bizarre story from legendary Magyar journalist Frigyes Karinthy that is directed in an appropriately Fellini-ish style by Gyorgy Révész. I saw this film on Hungarian TV once when I dragged home drunk in the middle of the night and it gave me strange dreams. Also features Mari Töröcsik and Zoltán Latinovics - an actor whose excellence compares favorably to that of any of the finest American film stars who came out of the Method in the Brando-Dean era.