The pantheon of Hungarian animation | TOP 5

The pantheon of Hungarian animation | TOP 5

Hungarian animation is once again in its golden age, as this year two feature-length films and one animated short film were selected for the world’s most prestigious festivals. To mark the occasion, we have collected films that should be on everyone’s must-see list.

The Annecy International Animation Festival will take place between 11 and 17 June and has invited Áron Gauder’s Four Souls of Coyote and Tibor Bánóczi and Sarolta Szabó’s White Plastic Sky. In addition, Flóra Buda will compete in Cannes between 16 and 27 May with her short film 27.

The Fly | 1980

Speaking of famous festivals, we can’t fail to mention the first Hungarian film to win an Oscar. Although it is a cuckoo’s egg considering it is only a three-minute short film, it’s an essential piece of the Hungarian animation pantheon. In the groundbreaking film of Ferenc Rófusz a gleaming windowpane lures an unsuspecting fly into a trap and then chases it to its doom. Throughout the film, we follow the animal’s final moments from the fly’s point of view.

The film was created using nearly four thousand crayon drawings, and its pulsating visual world is the result of every detail being applied on a single layer.

Ferenc Rófusz

Cat City | 1986

To this day, almost anyone can quote by heart from the film of Béla Ternovszky. The story follows the adventures of Grabowski, the 007 mouse-agent, while viewers also take part in a cinematic cultural journey, as the film draws on almost every genre of mass culture in an ironic or parodic way.

Interestingly, the whole movie actually started with the Manhattan Transfer’s Four Brothers song, because when the screenwriter heard it, he decided he wanted to make a movie with it. It later became one of the iconic songs of the film, Four Gangsters, sung by the rats.

Cat City 2

Son of the White Mare | 1981

A list of Hungarian animated films would not be complete without mentioning Marcell Jankovics. Son of the White Mare is based on Hungarian, Avaric, and Hunnic legends, and in the course of the story, Son of the White Mare—or, as it is sometimes called, the Treeshaker—follows the typical hero’s journey: he enters the deepest pits of hell, defeats the dragon, and returns stronger than ever.

The film is unique not only for its story but also for its psychedelic visuals and archetypal characters. Unusually, the characters are not given distinct contours but are separated from the background by color. This makes the world of the film seem even more dreamlike.

The District! | 2005

Although the films listed above are unique and exceptional in their own right, the most provocative of all is the film by Áron Gauder. The director of Four Souls of Coyote created a true Hungarian version of Romeo and Juliet, in which Ricsi Lakatos, a Roma boy, falls in love with Julika Csorba, even though their parents hate each other.

The film originally started out as a series, which is perhaps why many people refer to it as the Hungarian South Park, although its socially critical references and explicit style earned it that title too. The film had to be made on a very low budget, so the characters and the background are a bit odd, but it suits the film quite well.

Ruben Brandt, Collector | 2018

Although the film’s director, Milorad Krstić, is a Serbian-born filmmaker, he has lived in Hungary since 1990, and most of the cast and crew have Hungarian ancestry, and thus it is fair to say that Ruben Brandt is a Hungarian film. The story follows a famous psychiatrist who conducts art therapy with criminals suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder in order to cure them of their addictions. Meanwhile, the doctor has been suffering from nightmares since his father died, so the grateful patients decide to help him. As with our previous examples, Ruben Brandt contains a wealth of references, from fine art to American crime film genres.

Sources: filmarchív.alapfilmek, filmarchívum,, IMDb, ign, index

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