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Filming in Hungary: Blog

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A Hungarian From History: The Remarkable Life of Tibor Déry

zita kisgergely

Hungarian literature – now more than ever – has managed to take a prominent place on the world literature stage, while at the same time remaining distinctly Hungarian. It’s fair to say that there has been a rush on Hungarian writers in the German and particularly English language markets. All that said, there are still any number of fantastic Hungarian writers whose work has not been fully explored outside of the Hungarian language.

For example, there is Tibor Déry, who philosopher Georg Lukács praised as being “the greatest depicter of human beings of our time”. The Hungarian satirist, whose novel, Képzelt riport egz amerikai popfesztiválról (An Imaginary Report on an American Pop Festival),  should have international appeal, as it is based on the Rolling Stones' notorious Altamont concert, where the Hell’s Angels biker gang took over security, and were subsequently accused of assaulting audience members before stabbing one to death during the Stones’ set. The novel was popular enough in Hungary that it was adapted into a musical production, which was staged in Berlin before touring in Europe and, in 1986, finding its way to Albany New York, where it was presented in English with an American cast. Yet nobody has taken it upon themselves to translate and publish that book. His classic novel, the 1200-page tome An Unfinished Sentence, also remains untranslated.

Born in 1894, the writer was persecuted throughout his adult life for his support for Communist causes and the political affiliations they brought. Indeed, he was exiled in 1919 for his views. Upon return to Hungary, he was imprisoned for translating Andre Gide into Hungarian. Towards the end of his life, Déry turned his back on Stalin’s brand of communism, and was expelled from the Hungarian Communist Party in 1953. During this period, Déry was imprisoned again, and sentenced to nine years for his writings and participation in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In support of Déry, artists and writers worldwide registered local protests, including: Picasso, Camus, Satre, Bertrand Russell, and E.M. Forster.

Déry died in 1977. Compared to greats like Bruno Schultz and Anton Chekov, Déry's has yet to receive the recognition of either of those writers. But he hasn’t gone totally ignored. Dery’s most popular novel, Niki: the Story of a Dog, is still in print, in its 1954 English translation, and his short story collect Love and Other Stories was put out in English on New Directions in 2005. But it is possible that his greatest and most accessible works are slipping us by.

For those courageous enough, below is thesoundtrack to the musical based on Déry's book An Imaginary Report on an American Pop Festival, with music by Hungarian band Locomotiv GT.

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.