István Szabó

In his earliest period Szabo's starting point was his own experiences, which he transformed into artistic images. At the same time he carefully absorbed everything that was happening around him, made observations, and attempted to discern the essence of modern people, and to come to an understanding of their concerns, endeavours, and aspirations. He is interested in young engineers at the start of their careers; in the personal ideals of a young man on the threshold of maturity; in the changing relationship of two people, framed within a quarter-century of Hungarian history; in the dreams and locked-up memories of people living together in an old apartment building; in the "story" of an ordinary city streetcar with an allegorical resemblance to our contemporaries; in the love and district between a pair of completely different people in a charged wartime atmosphere; and in a deep probe into the character of a young actor whose talents are displayed and subordinated by the totalitarian power of nascent German fascism. All of these films are linked by intimate confession sharply set off against historical reality. In the images of Szabo's films-full of poetry and the symbolism of dreamlike conceptions, the small dramas of plain folk, their disappointments, success, loves, enthusiasms, moments of anxiety and ardour, joy and pain-the history of post-war Hungary passes by in contrapuntal details. Istvan Szabo creates auteur films in which the shaping of the theme and the screenplay are just as important as the direction, so that the resulting works bears a unique stamp. The heroes of his films are not only people, but also cities, streets, houses, parks-his native Budapest, which is the point of intersection of human fates. Under Szabo's creative eye the city awakens, stirs, arises, wounded after the tumult of the war, and lives with its heroes. In the 1980s Istvan Szabo has deviated from the rule of auteur films. This detracted nothing from the importance of his w