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still from Diary for My Children (Napló gyermekeimnek) (Márta Mészáros, HU 1984)

Napló - Diary For My Children

Márta Mészáros / HU, 1982 / 107 min.

This personal account of life in communist Hungary won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1984. Film journalist Dana Linssen introduces this classic of Hungarian cinema which has been restored by the Hungarian National Film Archive. 4K restoration.

poster Diary for My Children (Napló gyermekeimnek) (Márta Mészáros, HU 1984)

István Szábo, Márta Mészáros, Zoltán Fábri and Míklos Jancsó: four distinctive filmmakers who made their mark under the communist regime in Hungary. Their films were screened at international festivals, received major awards (including an Oscar for Szábo’s Mephisto) and were praised for their artistic qualities as well as their critical stance towards the communist regime.

Márta Mészáros (1931) made three films based on her recollections of life in communist Hungary (1949-1989), a country whose regime was initially inspired by Stalinist ideology. Napló – Diary For My Children, the first part of the trilogy, is set in the years before the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The secret police kept tabs on dissidents, and anyone expressing doubts about the blessings of the workers’ paradise risked being arrested.

tensions at home

In a mix of drama and documentary, Mészáros shows the clash between Juli and her adoptive mother Magda. Magda rises fast through the Party ranks, Juli is the daughter of Hungarian communists murdered by Stalin. To evade the tensions at home, Juli absconds from school and spends her days in the cinema.

Mészáros shot the film in black and white, with the restricted colour palette contributing to the film’s oppressive and suffocating atmosphere. Napló – Diary for My Children grew into a highly personal film about a regime that put the ideal of the ‘collective man’ as based on the works of Marx and Lenin above the individual needs of the Hungarian people.

Details

Director

Márta Mészáros

Production year

1982

Country

HU

Original title

Napló gyermekeimnek

Length

107 min.

Language

Hungarian

Subtitles

ENG

Format

DCP

Part of

Women Make Film

Last year, Eye presented the film programme Women Make Film, an alternative world history of cinema featuring women in the lead role. Women have played an important role from the early days of cinema, as cinematographers, filmmakers and sometimes also producers.

Learn more
campaign image Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (Mark Cousins, GB 2019)
still from Diary for My Children (Napló gyermekeimnek) (Márta Mészáros, HU 1984)
still from Diary for My Children (Napló gyermekeimnek) (Márta Mészáros, HU 1984)

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