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Hungarian History, Told With a Gritty 'Glamour'


Friday January 26, 2001
"Glamour" is a curious title for this film, which, like the earlier "Sunshine," views the tumultuous events of
Hungary in the 20th century through the saga of several generations of a Jewish family. The two pictures
are, however, markedly different in tone.
Istvan Szabo's is a traditional, straightforward account, occasionally ponderous but mainly impressive,
while here writer-director Frigyes Godros has spun an elegant, poetic fable of endurance. This often
jaunty, droll movie takes an absurdist tone toward the dire twists of fate to which Hungary was subjected
over the decades.
"Glamour" is the riskier, more venturesome film, and ultimately is more satisfying in its breezy yet deeply
felt originality, a worthy selection as Hungary's official Oscar entry.
As rain brings a flourish of frogs, the bearded, Orthodox patriarch (Gyorgy Barko) of a Budapest furniture
manufacturing family, predicts, in the aftermath of World War I, an ominous future for Hungary. He and
his family live in tasteful, spacious comfort above their classy showroom, where they sell fine quality
reproductions of period pieces. The brief Red Terror that follows the Great War, a foreshadowing of what
will befall Hungary in the wake of World War II, finds the store stripped of its stock, which is returned
once the communist threat subsides.
By the '30s, the patriarch's dashing elder son (Karoly Eperjes) has taken charge of the business and
has become convinced the family needs an infusion of new blood. A matchmaker presents him with a
photo of a pretty German nursery school teacher (Eszter Onodi), and when the two meet it is love at first
sight. Because Hungary has an alliance with Germany, and the Third Reich prohibits marriage between
Gentiles and Jews, the couple can get around the Nazi decrees only by the teacher first becoming a
divorced woman. So for three months she becomes the wife in name only of the family firm's dutiful
With the advent of World War II, the family, its employees and servants simply retreat to the basement,
where the shop, with its copper bell hanging over its door, emerges increasingly as a refuge in a world
gone mad--and which would grow even madder with the advent of communist rule. Godros deftly
reveals the horrors of the Stalinist era--paranoia, cruelty, even the torture of priests. At its heart,
"Glamour" is a paean to the sanctity and strength of the family, and a love story (with the patriarch's son
and his German wife remaining passionately devoted to each other through every adversity).
Highly romantic in its lush imagery (accompanied by a waltzing score), "Glamour" unfolds through the
eyes of the patriarch's grandson (Jonas Togay, in his adolescent years; Miklos Lang, in his 30s), who
today would be about 65. This beguiling, unpredictable film climaxes with the grandson imagining his
parents, alone and dancing on a large, baroque carousel. In this inspired image, Godros evokes the
eternal cycle of life with a shimmering beauty that makes his film's title seem appropriate after all.

Glamour, 2001. Unrated. A Bunyik Entertainment release of a Magyar Televizio, Focusfilm
(Hungary)/Ilona Grundman Filmproduktion/Arts & Future Film Fabrik (Germany)/Cascadefilm
(Switzerland) co-production. Writer-director Frigyes Godros. Producers Kornel Sipos, Ilona Grundman
and Gerald W. Kruse. Cinematographer Sandor Kardos. Editor Maria Rigo. Music Laszlo Melis.
Costumes Janos Breckl. Art director Gyula Pauer.. In Hungarian, with English subtitles. Running time: 1
hour, 54 minutes. Karoly Eperjes as Father. Eszter Onodi as Mother. Gyorgy Barko as Grandfather.
Jonas Togay as Son, in adolescence. Miklos Lang as Son, in adulthood.