Dedicated to the memory of:

Zoltán Huszárik - Filmmaker and visual artist
Born May 14, 1931; Died October 15, 1981

Gyula Krúdy - Author and journalist
Born October 21, 1878; Died May 12, 1933

A short excerpt from the booklet essay by Michael Brooke.

To describe Szindbád as one of the most beautiful films in cinema history only comes across as breathless hyperbole to those who haven't yet seen it: the evidence is imprinted on almost every ravishing frame. With no significant dialogue and only a brief snippet of voice-over, the film's first ten minutes cast their spell entirely through intoxicating imagery. It's easy to see why cinematographer Sándor Sára was one of only six people granted a credit in the same ornate block-caps font as the title (the others being Huszárik, Krúdy and the three lead actors). Whether framing an entire landscape or a single blade of grass, a peeling church interior or freshly-prepared food, a human face or light glinting through an emerald, Sára's already considerable skills as an image-maker were pushed to an extent rarely required by a mainstream feature film, and he more than rose to the occasion.

But these shots aren't just gratuitously pretty – they reflect the world as Sindbad sees it, or as he would like to see it. At one point he says that "life is a chain of beautiful lies", and these images prove it. They're often initially presented trompe l'œil (a splash of red accompanied by glinting ice crystals could be a delicious Hungarian dessert, but is in fact the shawl of a recently drowned woman being pulled out of the frozen water), and even when the content is ostensibly easy to 'read' it's rarely clear whether we're watching the present, the past, or delving into Sindbad's overheated imagination.

When Szindbád was finally greenlit in 1970, Huszárik ambitiously offered the title role to Vittorio De Sica, and travelled to Rome to meet him. He had a surprisingly positive response from the veteran Italian actor/director, whose only conditions were that his son Manuel write the music, and that he expected his usual fee. The production's budget, much lower than for an equivalent Italian production, was unable to stretch that far (indeed, it was reduced shortly before shooting started), and so Huszárik turned to Zoltán Latinovits, a popular actor of similar appearance and pensive mien to De Sica's compatriot and occasional colleague Marcello Mastroianni. Latinovits had already played leading roles in many key 1960s Hungarian films, though Sindbad would be widely regarded as his signature performance.

Michael Brooke’s complete and extensive essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.

Disc Info

Larks Boxshot

Hungary, 1971
Length / Szindbád: 90 minutes
Length / Special feature:
12 minutes
Sound: Original mono (restored)
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1 / 16.9 anamorphic
Language: Hungarian
Subtitles: English (On/Off)
Region 0
RRP: £12.99
Release Date:11th July 2011
Second Run DVD 058


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