Pordenone Silent 2016 – review – BUDAPEST: CITY OF SPAS AND CURES (“Budapest fürdöváros,” István Somkúti, 1935, Hungary)

Budapest: City of Spas and Cures is a documentary feature from 1935. As the title implies, it is a “kulturfilm” depicting the Hungarian capital in all its glory at a time when it became known as an official Spa town, like Bath or Wiesbaden. The film was included in a program of city symphonies at the 2016 Pordenone Silent Film Festival. Despite this, whether or not Budapest: City of Spas and Cures fits into this category is up for debate. What is certain is that its directors Istvan Somkuti and Laszlo Kando portray Budapest, its over 120 hot springs, and the people enjoying them.

Somkuti shot the footage himself, while Kando edited the film; the latter is billed as artistic director. Despite the fact that the film was commissioned by the Budapest Spa and Health Resort Committee, it is clear that Somkuti delights in filming the environment and the people within them. Only the pacing at time betrays some type of commercial dimension of the film. Nonetheless, the fact that the film was made almost 100 years ago makes any suspicion of advertising seem rather tame compared to today’s similar products. At best, the film is a treat turning its attention to people indulging in moments of sweet idleness. At worse, all the film appears to lack is the logo of a traveling company. – ★★★

BUDAPEST FÜRDÖVÁROS | 1935, Hungary | Documentary | Directed by – Istvan Somkuti / Written by – Istvan Somkuti / Cinematography by – Istvan Somkuti / Art department – Laszlo Kaudo | Running time: 14 mins.

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