A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by John Cunningham
There are some film directors who do not necessarily always capture headline-grabbing reviews; nor are their careers launched, Orson Welles style, in a blaze of publicity. Instead, like Károly Makk, they steadily but impressively amass a corpus of increasingly well-crafted and critically appreciated films. Makk has worked on over 40 films, in one capacity or another, in a long and varied career stretching to some 62 years. Yet his start in filmmaking was hardly auspicious – the son of a cinema projectionist in the countryside, he moved to Budapest to begin work on his first film in 1944. It was only a few months later that the Red Army rolled in to begin the siege of the city that raged for two months and destroyed whole swathes of the Hungarian capital. The film was the oddly titled 2 x 2 = 5 (Kétszér kettö) directed by the almost unknown János Manninger. Banned because its leading actor was a supporter of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross, a remake using another actor was a disaster, and the film disappeared in the chaos of war and post-war dislocation.
It was only in 1954 that Makk was able to direct his first feature film, Liliomfi, a tale of a travelling theatre group. After some ten years Makk was now established. But the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 brought new dilemmas: Makk had to consider whether to leave or to stay. The event had a profound effect on him, and he was later to remark that, for his generation, 1956 will always appear in some way or other in their films.
By 1970, Makk was ready to tackle head-on the subject of political repression in the Fifties. Although Love (Szerelem) makes no direct reference to 1956, this is the context in which the film is inevitably seen. Love was received with much critical acclaim both at home and abroad and won a special award at Cannes in 1971. Other successes followed, including Catsplay (Macskajátek), 1974, and Another Way (Egymásranézve), in 1981, the latter being the first Hungarian film to explore the prejudices and problems faced by lesbians in Hungary in the 1950s.
A Long Weekend in Pest and Buda came about partly because of a suggestion by Marc Vlessing, the film’s eventual producer, that Makk ought to make a film which looked at the recent past in Hungary. At the time (1997), Vlessing and Makk were in London putting the finishing touches to The Gambler; as the date suggests, the film had had a long gestation period, partly due to the usual problems of finding financial backing, not easy for a film made in Hungary, with Hungarian personnel, actors (with one exception), and a distinctly Hungarian theme and topic. From early on in the development of the project, Makk was keen to include the two actors from Love, Iván Darvas and Mari Törőcsik, despite any notions this may have raised about the film being a continuation or even a remake of the earlier film. The story of Iván and his former lover Mari, as they struggle to come to terms with the past, also becomes the story of his generation.
John Cunningham’s complete Essay, from which this is taken, appears in the Booklet of the DVD release
Length / Main Feature: 86 minutes
Length / Special Feature: 33 minutes
Sound: Original Stereo
Colour 1.77:1 16x9 Enhanced
Subtitles: English On/Off
Release Date: 27 Nov 2006