Summer 2019 – European film noir and noir in contemporary Hungarian cinema

Edited by Linda Huszár and Izabella Füzi


Sándor Kálai – Anna Keszeg: The (Im)Possibilities of Hard-Boiled Crime Genre in Hungary

The aim of our paper is to analyze Kondor Vilmos’s novel Budapest Noir (2008) and Éva Gárdos’s movie Budapest noir (2017), questioning the possibilities of adapting literary and cinematographic generic models. In the case of the novel the generic model is that of the hard-boiled fiction, in the case of the movie it is the film noir tradition. In both cases we focus on the problem of location strategies and spatial structures. In the first part of the article we discuss the problem of continuity between hard-boiled novels and film noirs, and in the second part we focus on how the adaptation of generic models is possible nowadays, in a historically very different period compared to the era of the inception of the two genres. Our main conclusion is that Kondor offers a critical reception of the hard-boiled tradition, while Gárdos’s film is a rather nostalgic adaptation of the noir tradition.


Attila Benke: The world is but a dark, corrupt day. Noir sensibility in contemporary Hungarian crime films

It is possible to define contemporary Hungarian crime films as film noirs according to Jenő Király’s and Zsolt Pápai’s notions (’Hungarian film noir’ and ’noir-sensibility’), which are used by the authors to describe melodramas and other romantic films of the Hungarian cinema from between 1939 and 1945. These films are mostly not film noirs in the sense of style and genre, but they have dark moods and themes, and their traumatized and anti-heroic heroes are like classic noir characters. The Exam (A vizsga, Péter Bergendy, 2011), Strangled (A martfűi rém, Árpád Sopsits, 2016), Well (Kút Attila Gigor, 2016), X – The eXploited (X – A rendszerből törölve Károly Ujj Mészáros, 2018) or Tall Tales (Apró mesék, Attila Szász, 2019) are crime films which analyse contemporary Hungarian society, usually through historical periods of the 20th century. In these noir-sensible thrillers and gangster films anxiety determines the life of heroes and antagonists as well, because paternalistic, autocratic and omnipotent men dispose of political and social power. I argue that this asymmetric relationship of the heroes and villainous social-political leaders causes the noir-sensibility of contemporary Hungarian crime films, which are the symptoms of the crisis of Hungarian democracy. Furthermore, I examine how noir-sensibility helps to transform the traditional genres and ideology of Hollywood, which these crime films are based on.


Delphine Letort: Noir series from Denmark: The Killing (Forbrydelsen)

The Danish television series, Forbrydelsen (Søren Sveistrup, 2007-2012) achieved international acclaim in the last years. The three seasons of the series, which follow the hermeneutical code of crime fictions, draw the rational path leading to the settling of the enigma presented in the first episode, thanks to the work of detective Sarah Lund. The series can be thus interpreted as the prolongation of those neo-noir attempts that aim at subverting the traditional distribution of roles in noirs: feminine intuition put into the service of the investigation is emphasized instead of the femme fatale’s dangerous sensuality. The multiplication of the narrative layers makes us face the ungraspable nature of truth and help to unfold the antagonism between reality and appearance, private life and public image.


Linda Huszár: Europeanness of Film Noir: Peter Lorre, an emblematic noir figure

The fluid and transitional nature of film noir can be exhibited in its “Europeanness”; the paper focuses on this simultaneously external and internal referential framework. In order to demonstrate noir’s transculturality alongside the complex history of influences, I chose Peter Lorre’s emblematic figure, who – as it is shown by his two films: The Face Behind the Mask and Der Verlorene – is also the medium of a classic noir theme displaying a drama of identity: an individual trapped by the traumas of unrecoverable time and space.


Linda Huszár: Crimes – a common denominator or Europeanness? Interview with Anna Keszeg and Sándor Kálai


Students’ Workshop

Gábor Bakos: Crimecontact. Crime film tradition of Man from London in contemporary Hungarian films

The article describes the world of the Black Series, which started in 1987 with Béla Tarr’s Damnation movie, through the characteristics of films that were formed in a late modernist style. The article defines the content and form of the “crime film” and the genres it is based on, focusing on the noir relationships of this crime film. Trendy neo-noir and the classic noir sub-genre itself are significantly present in contemporary movie art, therefore, film noir has a fundamental influence on auteur crime film. I highlight the work of Béla Tarr, the leading director of the Black Series. At the beginning of the 2000s he made one of the latest movies of the series: The Man from London. While exploring the history of the crime film genre, I focus on the form and the interpretation of Béla Tarr’s late modernist cinematography. The late modernist works of Béla Tarr exemplify not only the paradigmatic survival of late modernism in contemporary postmodern film culture, but also illustrate how the director merges the noir motifs of a film and the narrative tricks of modernism into his own metaphorical filmmaking.



Vera Kérchy’s review on Annamária Hódosy’s Biomozi. Ökokritika és populáris film


Eszter M. Polónyi ’s review on András Szekfű’s collection of interviews


Ervin Török’s review on Lóránt Stőhr’s Személyesség, jelenlét, narrativitás