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also known as A halálba táncoltatott leány

The Maiden Danced to Death2011

  • 3.9
Two decades after fleeing Hungary, Pista (writer-director Endre Hules) returns to find brother Gyula (Zsolt Laszlo) now married to his erstwhile girlfriend Mari (Bea Melkvi), the two of them still running the family’s Budapest dance studio. Since Communism fell, the government arts funding that once floated their company’s efforts are a distant memory; meanwhile, as “Steve Court,” Pista has become a high-profile Canadian-based producer of big stage spectaculars, emphasizing commerce over art. Incommunicado for all these years, he seems the very picture of success… never mind that he’s been ousted from his own business in addition to blowing his marriage (to Deborah Kara Unger). So it seems natural that the two brothers should collaborate now on an ambitious international touring show that would celebrate Hungarian folk dance and music as “Riverdance” did for the Irish. Of course, plenty of hurdles arise en route to that goal. Not only did Gyula leave plenty of issues unresolved long ago (why exactly did he go away for so long?) but the slick, pushy “walking cash register” he’s become sets him on a collision course with old allies. This handsomely produced drama's character-intrigue is spiced by plenty of rousing dancing sequences. - Dennis Harvey

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1 member likes this review

Endre Hules' The Maiden Danced To Death (2011) is truly one of the VERY BEST films that I've ever viewed. It's in my top three.

The storyline is very unique because it is about a Hungarian folk dance company in Budapest preparing for a world tour, and the evolving interaction of the family members involved in the operation of the production. The interaction between the extensive dance scenes and the dramatic scenes is very well done. This is a film in the Meta-Cinema genre because it is a film about another type of performance art, not acting but Hungarian folk dancing. Like a true meta-film, the lines between where the dancing ends, and the dramatic storyline continues is very "blurred", but deliberately so as to use the literal dancing in the film as a metaphor for "the dance of life", the navigational strategies that we all use in traversing the our life path between Self and Other. The editing is very effective in interweaving dance imagery and dramatic imagery to transfer the qualities of dance to drama, and of drama to dance.

The story told in this film is very unique and engaging as well, that of an exiled Hungarian dancer who left his homeland twenty years ago, now to return as a successful, renowned impresario who presents elaborate stage productions worldwide. For reasons that become clear as the story unfolds, this impresario returns home to help his brother promote the local family run folk dance company onto the world stage. The stunning coup de theatre is when the impresario dramatically reveals documents to his brother in front of the whole dance company that prove that the it was the brother himself who secretly informed on him years ago, and was effectively the cause for his expulsion from his homeland.

The cinematography and editing is just stunning, but not because it involves the use of radical, or even risky methods. Indeed, the cinematographic and editing techniques used in this film are relatively mundane. But the application of these well worn cinematic techniques is done with such a delicate understanding of how best to put them to effective use in a film of this sort.

Endre Hules, the writer, director, and lead actor in this film is truly a genius, and I hope to view more of this auteur's work in the near future.

20 Stars !!!

191242.small
top reviewer

Member Reviews (4)

191242.small
top reviewer

Endre Hules' The Maiden Danced To Death (2011) is truly one of the VERY BEST films that I've ever viewed. It's in my top three.

The storyline is very unique because it is about a Hungarian folk dance company in Budapest preparing for a world tour, and the evolving interaction of the family members involved in the operation of the production. The interaction between the extensive dance scenes and the dramatic scenes is very well done. This is a film in the Meta-Cinema genre because it is a film about another type of performance art, not acting but Hungarian folk dancing. Like a true meta-film, the lines between where the dancing ends, and the dramatic storyline continues is very "blurred", but deliberately so as to use the literal dancing in the film as a metaphor for "the dance of life", the navigational strategies that we all use in traversing the our life path between Self and Other. The editing is very effective in interweaving dance imagery and dramatic imagery to transfer the qualities of dance to drama, and of drama to dance.

The story told in this film is very unique and engaging as well, that of an exiled Hungarian dancer who left his homeland twenty years ago, now to return as a successful, renowned impresario who presents elaborate stage productions worldwide. For reasons that become clear as the story unfolds, this impresario returns home to help his brother promote the local family run folk dance company onto the world stage. The stunning coup de theatre is when the impresario dramatically reveals documents to his brother in front of the whole dance company that prove that the it was the brother himself who secretly informed on him years ago, and was effectively the cause for his expulsion from his homeland.

The cinematography and editing is just stunning, but not because it involves the use of radical, or even risky methods. Indeed, the cinematographic and editing techniques used in this film are relatively mundane. But the application of these well worn cinematic techniques is done with such a delicate understanding of how best to put them to effective use in a film of this sort.

Endre Hules, the writer, director, and lead actor in this film is truly a genius, and I hope to view more of this auteur's work in the near future.

20 Stars !!!

1 member likes this review
Picture?width=100&height=100
top reviewer

Creatively using dance sequences and music to tell a story that was 20 years in the making "The Maiden Danced To Death" seems a lot like a musical but with more intense emotional underpinnigs. There are some great shots of Budapest and the Danube along with creative camera work within the dance number. The music and musicians are first rate as is the hoofing.Old grudges don't die easitly.

177119.small
top reviewer

A great film, with excellent acting, a good story line, and fascinating scenes of Hungarian folk dancing (the brothers were involved with a folk dance theater).

What happens when one brother leaves communist Hungary as a young man only to return home after his homeland is once again free? Will his brother, father and former girlfriend welcome him back with open arms? Watch the film and find out.

161260.small
top reviewer

I had terrible technical problems with this movie and it took five or six sittings to actually see it through, but I felt it was worth the trouble. I struggled to figure out was was real and what was fiction. It was a very good story and the animus between the two brothers feels very real. The dancing is sensational, and I thought the acting was tiptop throughout.

I think this is a timeless story of two siblings; one gets out, one is left behind. Resentments fill every crevice of their history, and in this case the woman does as well. Life is messy. There is no happy ending if their is an ending at all.

Highly recommended. Yet another Balkan film with remarkable acting. I know of no where else that I can so easily access such gems. Thank you Fandor