Marcell Jankovics (1941-2021)

The Palme d'Or winner and Oscar nominee animation film director, Marcell Jankovics has died aged 80. Over his career that spanned six decades, he worked on more than 100 films as director, figure designer and animator.

Marcell Jankovics film director, graphic artist and culture historian born in 1941 was just 19 years old when he joined the animation department of Pannónia Film Studio in 1960. During the 60s, he was the figure designer of Gusztáv, one of the most iconic Hungarian cartoon stars, and co-director of the series. He directed the first full-length production in Hungarian animation history, János vitéz (Johnny Corncob) in 1973.

His second feature film, Fehérlófia (Son of the White Mare) was selected among the 50 greatest animations of all times at the Animation Olympics organized to coincide with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984.

One of the most famous animation films, the 2-minute-long Sisyphus, is one of his shorts with streamlined design and it was nominated for an Oscar in 1976.

Küzdők (The Struggle) won a Short Animation Palme d’Or in Cannes in 1977.

Marcell Jankovics 

Series hallmarked with his name (Magyar népmesék /Hungarian Folk Tales; Mondák a magyar történelemből /Legends from Hungarian History) are unique reworkings of the values of centuries of Hungarian culture.

Marcell Jankovics’ Ének a csodaszarvasról (Song of the Miraculous Hind, 2002) dealing with the history of the Magyar Conquest was one of the most watched animation in Hungarian history after the change of regime. As a culture history educational film, it tested the boundaries of the possibilities of animation film, as did the most grandiose undertaking of Jankovics’ career, Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man, 2012), an adaptation of the poem by Imre Madách.

His latest work was the full-length animation adaptation of the epic poem Toldi (2021) by János Arany for Kecskemétfilm. It is expected to premier this autumn.


The 4K restoration of Fehérlófia (Son of the White Mare) was carried out as a collaboration of Arbelos Films, Los Angeles and the National Film Institute, Hungary in 2019. The film is distributed by Arbelos in the United States and in Canada. Currently the National Film Institute is working on the restoration of his third full-length film, Ének a csodaszarvasról (Song of the Miraculous Hind).

Marcell Jankovics’ works are once again being shown in the US, Canada, Germany and France, sales are handled by thy National Film Institute, Hungary. In 1984, he laid out his creative creed to the periodical Filmkultúra: ‘I escape to topics that preoccupy the basic canons of civilization. The fact is, I simply have nowhere else to escape to. My personal problems are not so important that I would make a movie out of them. I can’t see that point in the world, that are thousands, millions of times more important, that would be worth dealing with in our genre: there is such an immeasurable scale of problems that surround our world. Rescuing our disintegrating values is at least a beautiful task, somehow to restore in our genre.’

INTERVIEW - Jankovics about his work and career on the occasion of the US premiere of the restored Fehérlófia (Son of the White Mare) in 2020