My BFI Player choice this week is the debut feature from Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi which won the Caméra d’Or prize at Cannes back in 1989 and which was recently reissued in the UK in the wake of Enyedi’s Berlin Festival hit ‘On Body and Soul’ the playfully weird ‘My 20th Century’ Presented in old-school black and white ‘My 20th Century’ follows the lives of twins Dóra and Lili born into poverty in the late 19th century While selling matches on a snowy Christmas Eve the sisters fall into a frozen sleep and are spirited away by poshly-attired men to entirely separate lives Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 1900 where fate has conspired to reunite the sisters both played by Polish actor Dorota Segda Dóra is travelling first class on the Orient Express using her charms to part bamboozled men from their money Onto this same train climbs Lili in altogether different circumstances Committed to revolutionary ideals she is embroiled in a plan to assassinate a politician Inevitably, the twins’ identities become confused with Oleg Jankovszkij’s fall guy failing to realise the distinction between the two with curiously satirical results You can read ‘My 20th Century’ in a number of ways Perhaps it’s a parable about the polarised political strands of the century the eternal conflicts between money and idealism Perhaps it’s an identity-swap farce constructed with reference to the slapstick icons of silent cinema Or perhaps it’s a parable about the absurdities of modern life clicked into action by Edison turning on a light which would change the world and give birth to the movies What’s clear is that Enyedi likes to remain ambivalent As anyone who’s tried to describe the dreamy blend of fact and fiction love and death which characterises ‘On Body and Soul’ will know her films are like poems evocative and provocative open to multiple interpretations impossible to pin down

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Was immediately intrigued by this film after seeing it that I continued to watch it again for several nights. Loved it.

  2. It's always exciting to discovery or having someone sharing a film that you've never heard of for the first time. I never heard of this film but this brief introduction makes me want to seek this film out and experience it! Thanks, Dr. K!

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