YNWA-Blog #3

Budapest: At the source of a song (2)

The dark clouds of the previous day gave fair warning, and today the heavens opened over Budapest. But when shooting a film you have to accept that the weather isn’t always on your side. And there’s worse to come: The wonderful actor Mavie Hörbiger, our interviewee for the next day of filming in Vienna, has had to call off the engagement. But the shock is happily short-lived: Joachim Król and Mavie Hörbiger talk on the phone and agree on a new filming schedule later.

The first venue for today is the well-known New York Café, where Joachim Król meets Mátyás Sárközy, grandson of the playwright Molnár. The magnificent coffee house was in Molnár’s time a popular meeting place for artists and the literati; Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz, who directed Casablanca, was a regular visitor. The Café has very recently been extensively refurbished with the interior restored to its original state at the time of its establishment. Gilded balustrades, giant mirrors, and precious porcelain take us back into a glittering past, steeped in history. The idea for the play Liliom is supposed to have occurred one night to Ferenc Molnár right here, in his preferred workplace.

After a quick set-up and blocking rehearsal we’re ready to roll. The team films with two cameras, one focusing on the interviewee Sárközy while the other records the entire scene. We’re hugely interested to hear what Molnár’s grandson has to tell Joachim Król and listen avidly over a lip-smacking latte in the sophisticated setting, getting something of a feel for how it must have been in the old days.

Before we head back to Germany, we plan to stop over with the team in Vienna to gain an impression of the second large metropolis on the Danube for our story. Because it was the Burgtheater in that city that turned the Molnár play into a worldwide success.

So it’s off by taxi to Budapest’s Keleti station, a grand edifice in neo-Renaissance style. To cross the Hungarian border we must take a number at the international ticket office—and once again we’re transported into an earlier era: The tickets here are still filled out by hand. This delay means that we miss our train by just one minute. A little later, however, we’re finally on our way to the Austrian capital, a journey of about two and a half hours. More here soon on our time in Vienna!