Monday, October 03, 2016

Budapest fürdőváros / Budapest – the City of Spas and Cures

BUDAPEST FÜRDÕVÁROS (Budapest – the City of Spas and Cures) [Budapest, città delle terme] (HU 1935) D+ED: István Somkúti, László Kandó. Cinematography: István Somkúti. Artistic dir: László Kandó. M: Sándor László. Print: 35 mm, 15'30" (24 fps), sd.; no titles. Source: Magyar Nemzeti Digitális Archivum es Filmintézet (MaNDA) / Hungarian National Digital Archive and Film Institute, Budapest.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Sinfonie delle città.
    Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, no titles on the film, grand piano and violin: Günter A. Buchwald, 3 Oct 2016.

Eva Hielscher: "In 1934 Budapest became an official Spa city, like Bath, Wiesbaden, or Carlsbad. István Somkúti and László Kandó adopted this title for their 1935 film Budapest fürdõváros (Budapest – the City of Spas and Cures). Made for Budapesti Központi Gyógyés Üdülőhelyi Bizottság (the Budapest Spa and Health Resort Committee), the film functioned most probably as a promotional work and was considered a Kulturfilm, a cultural or documentary film. It portrays three facets of Budapest: as the capital of Hungary, a modern city, and a health resort. Indeed, there are more than 120 hot springs in the city, whose spa heritage dates back to the Romans. Somkúti, a cameraman, director, journalist, and photographer, shot the footage for the film on his own and according to his own ideas. In the editing room, he was accompanied by Kandó, who is credited as the film’s artistic director."

"For a short sequence, the filmmakers make use of experimental montage techniques and film tricks such as rotating images and kaleidoscopic effects. Somkúti started his career in the film industry at the Pathé laboratory in Budapest, like Adalberto Kemeny and Rudolpho Rex Lustig, who in 1929 made São Paulo, a Symphonia da Metrópole (also being shown at this year’s Giornate). In fact, they weren’t the only city-symphony filmmakers from Hungary; the list also includes Andor von Barsy, who made the Dutch city symphonies De Stad die Nooit Rust (The City That Never Rests, 1928) and Hoogstraat (High Street, 1929), and László Moholy-Nagy, who wrote the screenplay Dynamik der Gross-Stadt (1922), a “city symphony on paper”, before he realized the films Impressionen vom alten Marseiller Hafen (Vieux Port) (1929), Berliner Stilleben (1931), and Großstadt-Zigeuner (Gypsies of the Metropolis, 1932). However, Kandó and Somkúti, who also worked for the Hungarian Film Bureau, seems to be the only directors who made a Hungarian city symphony about a Hungarian city."

"Even though the film was shot with a silent film camera, it was combined with a music track in 1935, composed by Sándor László and performed by the Symphony Orchestra Budapest (making use of the Pulvári sound system, which was developed by the Hungarian Film Bureau and its technical director Károly Pulvári).
" – Eva Hielscher

AA: The approach of this wordless film to the city of Budapest is that of the thermal bath, integral to the city since the beginning. The film of István Somkúti and László Kandó is a combination of a tourist travelogue, a paean to healthy life, and an experimental study evoking Kenneth Anger's Eaux d'artifice. There are panoramic shots from the Gellért mountain, beautiful montages of water birds including pelicans and swans, rehabilitation scenes of invalids, watersports at the magnificent spa, and views of tennis, golf, and riding. Wonderful meals are served at the restaurant as spa guests are dancing the night away. VÉGE.

Günter A. Buchwald added some Hungarian-style violinism to his musical interpretation of the Budapest city symphony.

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