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December 19, 2003 - Image 107

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

..... . ...................... '

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Available
After 4:00 pm

RESTAURANT - TAYERN

`Gloomy Sunday'

Featuring Sweet Baby Ray's

Film set in Budapest is "gloomy," but it's masterfully shot and told.

TOM TUGEND
Jewish Telegraphic Agency .

G

loomy Sunday is the English title
for the German-Hungarian film
that translates more aptly as "A
Song of Love and Death." But under
either name, it is a movie of exceptional
visual and dramatic beauty.
Opening in the 1930s in Budapest,
Gloomy Sunday starts as a good old-
fashioned love triangle, or, rather, a
quadrangle.
Vying for the ravishing Ilona (Erika
Marozsan) are Laszlo (Joachim Krol),
who employs Ilona in his cafe; the
handsome Andras (Stefano Dionisi), the

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BBQ Beef Ribs

sense of guilt about its tragic conse-
quences. Also affected is Hans, who
tries to drown himself in the Danube
after Ilona refuses to marry him. He is
rescued by Laszlo, and the two men
swear eternal friendship.
A few years later, Hans returns to
Budapest in the uniform of an SS officer
to assist Adolf Eichmann in the "Final
Solution." Hans is demanding large
bribes from wealthy Jews to spare them
from deportation.
Caught in the Nazi net is Laszlo, an
indifferent Jew — "If my parents had
been Iroquois, I'd be an Iroquois," he
says with a shrug — but a Jew, never-
theless. Initially, Hans shields his for-
mer rescuer, but ultimately turns his

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Joachim Krol, left, as Laszlo and Erika Marozsan as Ilona in a scene
"Gloomy Sunday"

cafe's soulful pianist; and Hans (Ben
Becker), a somewhat awkward German
tourist who can't get enough of Laszlo's
specialty, a beef roll known as Magyar
roulade.
For Ilona's birthday, Andras composes
"Gloomy Sunday," a haunting melody
whose somber lyrics tell of a distraught
lover contemplating suicide to rejoin his
dead mistress.
(The real-life 1930s song — corn-
posed by Rerso Seress and translated
into English by Sam L. Lewis, became a
phenomenal hit in its native Hungary,
throughout Europe and in the United
States, after versions were recorded by
Billie Holiday and Artie Shaw. To the
horror of its creators, the song triggered
a string of suicides by young romantics
throughout the world and became
known as "The Suicide Song." It was
banned from many radio playlists.)
Andras' musical success with the
song is spoiled by an overwhelming

0

back as Laszlo is pushed on the train to
Auschwitz.
Some 45 years later, Hans comes
back to Budapest, now a fabulously
wealthy businessman and even hailed
as a noble savior of Budapest Jews
during the war. He returns to Laszlo's
old restaurant, orders the violinist to
play "Gloomy Sunday" and comes to
grips with his past.
German director Rolf Schuebel mas-
terfully underplays a story that easily
could have descended into mere senti-
mentality. I I

Gloomy Sunday, in German with
English subtitles, is scheduled to
open Friday, Dec. 19, at the
Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield
Township. Start dates are subject
to postponement after we go to
press. Check your local movie
listings. (248) 542-0180.

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12/19
2003

83

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