“Iza’s ballad”by Magda Szabo.
Translated from Hungarian.
“Up in the castle chamber
torches blaze and glow
laments resound and echo
through the house below.
In the middle of the chamber
raised high up on her bier
a lovely virgin bride
lies dead and cannot hear.
Her cheeks and breasts are pale
like hills in a white shroud
her beautiful eyes closed
like stars behind a cloud.
Ah would it were that I
lay on that bier instead
not you,my lovely flower,
bright virgin of my bed.
-by Jozef Bajza
What i like about films from Poland ,Hungary,Russia in great generalization is how the elements,forests,wind,fire,water play as much of a role in the drama of life as human beings.
The story begins with 75 year old Etty ,told from her perspective then turns to Iza ,her daughter’s perspective,the daughter who tries to do the right thing,support her parents financially,have her mother move in with her to Budapest,decide for her mother what is best for her then Anatal,the man who began as an orphan and through a Charles Dickins’ saga made his way climbing up the social ladder becoming an honorable doctor not letting go of his integrity and independent thought,a metaphor for those who had come to age in the testing days of WW2 and having come out better people now forced to live by a high standard of honesty and integrity.
Then the writer who becomes Iza’s companion but a distance unable to commit too deeply always afraid of losing his individuality and then the story of the nurse who sits with the dying struggling to stay human and capable of affection.
The story is told from various points of views,a story of orphans who have lost their childhood village to progress.
This novel is why film fails to speak as deeply,the pace is decided by the reader and yet once i began to read this book that has so much going on and yet nothing,like the elderly woman who spends her days riding around the metro in Budapest unable to decide her own fate allowing others to tell her how to live till she releases a caged bird from her cage.
A wonderfully profound but sad novel inspired by Hungarian culture capturing its flavors and tastea but also that of Charles Dickins’ orphans but at a much deeper level of sorrow.
It reminds me of Madame Bouvary without the madness because it is about making decisions and how failing to decide and allowing other people to decide for you is a decision too.
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