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25 Fireman Street (2004)

Lucyna Winnicka , Margit Makay , István Szabó  |  NR |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lucyna Winnicka, Margit Makay, Károly Kovács, András Bálint, Erzsi Pásztor
  • Directors: István Szabó
  • Writers: István Szabó, Luca Karall
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Hungarian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002CHICO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,317 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "25 Fireman Street" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Comic, melancholy, ribald and hallucinatory, 25 Firemans Street is both a groundbreaking entry into the New Hungarian Cinema of the seventies and a timeless, intoxicatingly rich moviemaking triumph. Director Istv+¡n Szabo (Mephisto, Sunshine) masterfully evokes everything from Borges to Bru+Ýel to Proust as he freely blends rich characterizations with visionary surrealism and kitchen sink realism. On one hot summer night, the residents of a Hungarian apartment house slated for demolition restlessly revisit their haunted pasts as they face an uncertain future. In a gently turning kaleidoscope of dream imagery, regret-laden nostalgia and painstakingly intimate detail, the looming wrecking ball pales in significance to the accumulated experience each dreamer revisits. Pre-war prejudice, occupying Nazis and Stalinist deprivations all come and go as each tenant's backward glance yields moments of aching sensuality, infectious exuberance and catastrophic loss. Through an affirming cascade of poetic wanderings through lives lived to the fullest, 25 Firemans Street plots a personal map of Hungary's fortunes from Hapsburgs to the Soviets. Conjuring up a canvas of recent Eastern European history to create a tapestry of personal histories shaped by war. Combining sure-handed storytelling with visual enchantment, 25 Firemans Street marries the whimsically ethereal with the tragically concrete. Presented here for the first time on DVD, Kino On Video proudly offers an unforgettable cinematic nocturne that has remained as inspiring and innovative as it was upon first release in 1973.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
(7)
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Down the House August 4, 2006
Format:DVD
There's a demolition set for the following morning as a family (consisting of actors; Lucyna Winnicka, Margit Makay, Karoly Kovacs, Janos Janl, Edit Lenkey, and Zoltan Zelk) spend one last night in their home. Everyone seems to be having difficulty sleeping as each has dreams of the memories the house brings.

There's an old saying, "out with the old and in with the new", and it's what is at the heart of Istvan Szabo's film.

The movie is primarily flashbacks going through most of Hungary's history and the personal memories it bring for these family members. Most of the stories involve Nazis or Communist. And each deals with a personal struggle.

The film is also not just about these characters but Hungary itself.

The main reason I chose to review this film at this particular time is because Hungary is in the midst of celebrating the 50th anniversay of the Hungarian Revolution. If you follow the news you'll know recently even President Bush went to Hungary to comment on the event.

Keeping all this in mind, not to mention the stories I've been hearing at home, I've decided to go back and rewatch Szabo's films. I've always thought very highly of his work. A few years ago I reviewed his "Being Julia" and gave it four stars. I've never been shy about my admiration for "Sunshine", a film I think was robbed of Oscar nominations, and one of the leading reasons why I don't watch the show anymore. I also enjoyed his "Mephisto" and "Father".

But, now that I'm older and hopefully a little wiser, I see deeper into Szabo's work. I see a man who had a love of country and for his people but was caught within a duality.

There's a rich nostalgia in "25 Firemans Street" and "Father" but also something bittersweet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A surreal survey of 20th century Hungarian history December 19, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An old apartment building in Budapest is being torn down and its former residents recall memorable events in their lives associated with that address.

Istvan Szabo, the film's director (famous for his "Mephisto"), claims "25 Firemans Street" was not meant to be surreal or fantastic -- but that's exactly how it comes off. Scenes shift between dreams and reality . . . the dead converse with the living (or is it vice-versa?) and time melts back and forth between pre-War times, Nazi-era WWII, and post-war Communist rule.

Perhaps to Hungarians who survived all the crazy shifts of their 20th century political history, what might seem "surreal" to outsiders is all-too "real" to the natives!

That may be true, but apparently even some contemporary Hungarian audiences found this film confusing when it was first released there. Non-Hungarian audiences (count me as one) might be even more confused by all the dizzying imaginative leaps Szabo makes from scene to scene as the film progresses. "What does that particular uniform or flag signify?" you might ask yourself, for example.

Ideally, I suppose, one should be able to instantly recognize all the film's potent images and historical references. Obviously Szabo intends that the kaleidoscope-like presentation of these powerful images should evoke complicated, nuanced emotional and political resonances -- and I imagine any native who has lived through the traumas of 20th century Hungarian life could point out layer upon layer of humor, irony, etc. to non-Hungarian viewers.

So, should you take a chance on this film?

Anyone curious about contemporary Hungarian cinema -- or 20th century Hungarian history -- will probably find this a very thought-provoking film that will repay repeated screenings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Interesting to see that at the point I voted for this film on the Internet movie database (IMDB) roughly one-third of those who voted gave this movie a 10 -- and yet the votes of the other two-thirds people has held the voting down to an average under 5. Clearly -- to me -- a sign that most people watching this film "just didn't get it."

I cannot blame them too much. People unfamiliar with watching movies with a high amount of visual symbolism and with a unique slant might just not know how to appreciate a film like this. Additionally, they may not have had the advantage that I had of being told in advance that the great majority of this film depicts dream sequences (and most if not all of those dreams being memories of significant experiences in their lives especially as in relation to war, fascism and/or facing possible or even certain death). This really blends well into a very watchable "stream of consciousness" flick. It is all about he different people, younger and older, lovers, family, the haunted and others that live in one building. It is set in Hungary, and the building is under -- or about to be under -- demolition. That is a sense of going back and forth in time, and this is fine. The timing is not the importance; rather, it is the content.

This movie gives this viewer the feeling, "I am now seeing what these people were remembering, feeling and thinking just before they were going to die." Understanding this in advance perhaps made it much easier for me to appreciate this film without the unnecessary thoughts in my head like, "That's not realistic. It is supposed to be hot and he is not even sweating!" because in dreams things are not so realistic sometimes -- and even if they are, creative license can easily be allowed for this Hungarian Masterpiece.
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