Budapest Classics Film Marathon arrives complete with free open-air screenings, curiosities of film history and a legendary work by Giuseppe Tornatore

2023.08.24.

John Travolta, Dezső Garas, Johnny Depp and the most famous Hungarian vampire of them all, Béla Lugosi, are on show at the Basilica. As part of Budapest Classics Film Marathon, once again an open-air cinema is being set up for four days in Szent István Square, where JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, ED WOOD, FOOTBALL OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS (RÉGI IDŐK FOCIJA) and the smash hit GREASE can all be viewed in fully restored, superb quality, for free. The National Film Institute is arranging Budapest’s biggest international film festival for the sixth occasion between 12-17 September.

The celebration of restored classic films kicks off with Maléna (2000), followed over the next five days by more than 100 films in Budapest, screened at Toldi cinema, Uránia National Film Theatre, the French Institute, in Szent István Square and at Budapest Music Center, where silent films can be enjoyed with live music accompaniment. We again look forward to welcoming film fans to free-of-charge open-air projections in front of the Basilica: Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Ed Wood, and Football of the Good Old Days are shown on a one-of-its-kind, 130-sqm giant screen. On the last two occasions, moreover, there are two specialities of film history as companion pieces: the 1918 silent film Struggle for Life (Küzdelem a létért), and the István Szabó-directed short City Map (Várostérkép – Budapest) dating from 1977.

The festival opens with the drama Maléna, tracing the hardships of a beautiful woman played by Monica Bellucci in the cruel world of the Second World War. Cinematographer on this poignant work was Lajos Koltai and Ennio Morricone composed the music.

Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is one of the most successful film musicals of all time. The movie about American high school students is a nostalgic look back to the 1950s and the golden age of rock and roll. The movie’s biggest hits are, of course, ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘You’re the One That I Want’. Budapest Classics Film Marathon brings this legendary musical back to the big screen in an open-air screening evoking the buzz of drive-in movies.

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Grease

The 50-year-old Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) is the rock opera adaptation written jointly by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which focuses on the final days of Jesus and the confrontation between Judas and Jesus. In the film, a travelling troupe of hippies performs the rock opera as a play, the arrangement of which fits Weber’s songs blending rock, soul, funk, gospel and classical music perfectly. The genre-creating rock opera and film that came from it were hugely popular in Hungary; more than one million saw the premiere in Hungary (1983) and it was reintroduced to cinema programmes in 1991. The film sparked the composition of many similar music works by Hungarian artists. Of these, the best known is Stephen, the King (István, a király), which proved very popular when it was projected at the 2019 Marathon.

Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton, explores the life of the director of the horror Plan 9 from Outer Space, considered by many to be the worst film of all time. In the film, Johnny Depp plays Edward Wood, infamous for his ‘B’ category sci-fis. Depp is joined by Sarah Jessica Parker and Bill Murray, while Martin Landau brings Béla Lugosi, a regular actor in the director’s films, to life. The only surviving Hungarian film featuring the actor who later became world-famous as Dracula is the silent motion picture Struggle for Life dating from 1918, which can be viewed on the big screen as a companion piece to Ed Wood at the Marathon’s free open-air show.

“We need a team!” – Pál Sándor’s cult movie Football of the Good Old Days (1973) tells of the struggles of a Budapest laundryman prepared to sacrifice it all for his beloved football team in a style evocative of classic silent films. The work preserving the immortal acting of Dezső Garas can be seen along with István Szabó’s 1977 short, City Map, on the giant screen in the square in front of the Basilica. This is at the same time a tribute to the 150-year-old history of our capital.

MOL is principal sponsor of Budapest Classics Film Marathon.
For more information on Budapest Classics Film Marathon: filmmaraton.hu