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Filming in Hungary: Blog

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Bud-apest: The Enduring Cult of Bud Spencer in Hungary

zita kisgergely



Budapest is slowly becoming a city of unlikely statues. While a long-proposed statue of Chuck Norris has yet to materialize, in recent years we saw the introduction of a statue of American TV star Peter Falk in his Columbo garb on Falk Miksa street, and more recently, on November 11th to be exact, in the rough-and tumble District Nine, a statue of Spaghetti Western and Jack-of-All-Trades Italian actor Bud Spencer was unveiled. While the late Spencer (born Carlo Pedersoli) was a pop culture fixture in English-speaking countries, he by no means held the stature of icons like Falk and Norris, so why is the first (and last?) full body sculpture of Spencer found in Hungary’s capital? Read on and that secret will be revealed.

It turns out that the roots of Spencer's popularity lie in the fact that his films were deemed harmless enough that the Socialist authorities allowed them to be routinely broadcast on Hungarian television in the 70s and 80s. The actor retained his popularity after the 1989 changeover, his roles resonating with Hungarians young and old. Szandra Tasnádi, the sculptress who fashioned and helped unveil the statue, claimed in an interview with Hungarian news-site 444 that Spencer’s everyman qualities, and ability to laugh in the face of oppressive criminality, appealed particularly to Hungarian audiences. Site puts it more expansively: “Bud Spencer (and Terence Hill) became some of the most popular stars of their era here, despite (or perhaps because of) their plebeian appeal; for the millions of Hungarians who were restricted from traveling internationally during that time, the exotic scenery of the movies’ worldwide settings provided a rare perspective of life in faraway places outside of communist-controlled society.”

Also important to Spencer’s popularity in Hungary was his love of the sports of swimming and water polo, both of which Hungarians have a history of supporting and excelling at. In fact, Spencer’s last game as a pro water polo player was against Hungary in 1967, ending in a tie. Moreover, the athlete and actor maintained a friendship with three-time Olympian water polo player György Kárpáti, and visited Hungary often.

To this day, Spencer’s films are still broadcast on Hungarian TV, though there was also a Spencer film festival held in Budapest. The soundtracks to his Spaghetti Westerns are so popular, they have been played to packed stadiums, and the actor’s popularity shows no signs of declining despite his death earlier this year at age 86.

Tasnádi’s sculpture features Spencer carrying a saddle and the quote “As Bud Spencer’s partner in crime, Terence Hill said at the funeral, he is sure that he will be welcomed by his friend with a saddle on his shoulders when he goes to heaven,” adorns the base. At the inauguration the actor’s daughter, who was in attendance, said, “The statue reflected the real personality of her father: a big man with a big heart.” The French inexplicably love Jerry Lewis, and David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany. The Hungarians have claimed Bud Spencer, and now a statue to prove it.

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill

Below is a brief video of the event.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.