An excerpt from the booklet essay by Stanley Schtinter

For my friends and I, Twilight held mythical status. György Fehér was a secret folded into the blackest doorways of Béla Tarr’s world, credited as producer on Sátántangó (1994) and for ‘additional dialogue’ on Werckmeister Harmonies (Werckmeister harmóniák, 2000). Tarr is credited as ‘consultant’ on Twilight. Neither maker defines the other, but crew, cast and shadows are often shared. And without Tarr’s ascendance, it is likely Fehér’s work would’ve remained forever buried, badly received upon release, and otherwise very much out on its own. Coming to cinema-cinema in my late teens, Twilight represented correction and antidote to the dominant kultur’s 2008 Mormon fuck-fest of the same name, and the dilapidation of the available copy only embellished its mystery. The unclarity even helped to articulate the false-clarity of its namesake, and the other definition of ‘twilight’: obscurity, decline; the products of the status quo ever darkening, flattening. Not unlike Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou’s use of Peter Lorre’s paedo-Berliner in M (1931), it was as any film worth its salt, bare-bones-reflective and ideology-proof, a jumping-off point for an indictment of society-at-large. Twilight was as twilight is: the soft glow of semi-darkness; an in-between place just outside of time and reach. Shorter than most feature films. Unseen by most people. The fuzzy video rip we relied on for so long suggested that the film could have been made at almost any time since the arrival of sound in cinema. This restoration narrows the timing but the point stands. We already knew of its existence in 2010, and even as a brand-spanking-new-unspooled 35mm print, but an argument over rights prevented distribution. The lifting of this ban has been gradual: following my relentless years-long campaign, in 2020 the Hungarians decided a single showing annually was the acceptable limit (the restoration had its world premiere at Close-Up Film Centre, London, in 2021) and then in 2023, following the years-long campaign by Second Run, emergence into every-day with this Blu-ray edition. Egészségére!

Twilight is based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel (Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman), a novel published to reaffirm his original screenplay’s intentions for the 1958 film, It Happened In Broad Daylight (Es geschah am hellichten Tag). Dürrenmatt was commissioned to produce a script for a film directed by Ladislao Vajda (fellow Hungarian and disciple of Fritz Lang). ‘When a schoolgirl is found murdered in the woods, a detective in his final days before retirement is challenged to find her killer’. The Swiss money-men at the movie’s helm had the stoic detective solve the murder at the core of the narrative and nail the killer. But the script permitted neither, suspending any outcome, condemning him to a demented and eternal burn-out, his mind the lost-in-the-woods ouroboros of horror film cliché. Dürrenmatt’s novel reconnects the story with his preferred ending, and expands on some of the themes the film failed to explore. The characters are afforded an ability to question and doubt their genre, reminiscent of fellow Swiss writer Robert Walser’s ‘disenchanted’ extensions of famous fairytales. The detective reflects: ‘Our rational mind casts only a feeble light on the world. In the twilight of its borders live the ghosts of paradox.’ The Pledge is the story of a man driven mad by reality failing to conform to his expectations. It is the story of the stories we produce for ourselves in order to understand, and the stories that are produced by structures of power to attempt to control that understanding. The novel dominates Fehér’s film (Dürrenmatt ignored the director’s invitation to act as a consultant on it), but Vajda’s effort was obviously an influence. The same can be said for The Pledge, Sean Penn’s 2001 adaptation of the novel, the existence of which — with its entitlement to the novel — has contributed to the suppression of Twilight’s release. Fehér’s only other feature, Passion (Szenvedély, 1998), an adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), has also been restored, and is similarly buried in legal slurry. [Fehér's] life was cut short in 2002 just as Passion had properly unfurled his black-flag filmmaking. Fehér’s final credit is in the role of cinematographer on a TV mini-series dedicated to the tragi-Commie poet, József Attila, released in the year of his passing.

Stanley Schtinter's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Hungary / 1990
Twilight: 101 minutes
Special features: 125 mins
Sound: 2.0 Dual-Mono
Black and white
Original aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Language: Hungarian
Subtitles: English

Blu-ray: BD50 / 1080 / 24fps
Region ABC (Region Free)

Blu-Ray: £19.99
Release Date: 12 June 2023



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