3 user 5 critic

A Hungarian Fairy Tale (1987)

Hol volt, hol nem volt (original title)
Not Rated | | Fantasy | 28 December 1988 (USA)
Shot in B&W, Gyula Gazdag's film follows the surreal and often comic quests of young Andris, an orphan searching for a father who doesn't exist, and Orban, a government clerk who's had ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Dávid Vermes ... Andris
Pál Hetényi ... Orbán Antal (voice)
... Orbán Antal
Mária Varga ... Mária, Andris's Mother
Eszter Csákányi ... Lány
Péter Trokán ... úttörõtanár
Szilvia Tóth ... Tünde
Judit Pogány ... Tünde anyja
Géza Balkay ... Tünde mostohaapja
Gábor Reviczky ... Tünde apja
Joli Jászai ... öregasszony (as Jászai Jolán)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Éva Babai
Margit Balák
Jutta Bokor ... Második hölgy in 'A varázsfuvola' (singing voice)
Csaba Csikesz


Shot in B&W, Gyula Gazdag's film follows the surreal and often comic quests of young Andris, an orphan searching for a father who doesn't exist, and Orban, a government clerk who's had enough of oppressive bureaucracy. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

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Not Rated




Release Date:

28 December 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Hungarian Fairy Tale  »

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Did You Know?


A varázsfuvola (Die Zauberflöte)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conducted by János Kovács
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User Reviews

A delightful and original film.
26 June 2017 | by See all my reviews

Three years after the birth of Andris (Dávid Vermes), his mother Maria (Mária Varga) took him to get officially registered. It turned out that the official needed the particulars of his father. His mother did not know his detail, not even the man's name or address. She met Andris' father at a performance of the opera 'The Magic Flute' and spent the evening with him. She never saw him again. The official Orbán (Hušak František) assured her that it would not be a problem; he would just write down an imaginary name and address, which he did.

A few years later Andris's mother tragically loses her life in an accident. It seems as if the boy would be sent to an orphanage, as there is no trace of his dad or any other relative. Andris finds his registration document in his mother's drawer, with his father's (fake) name and address, which the poor lad assumes to be genuine. His quest to find his dad begins.

Andris has many adventures along the way; he meets helpful and also some eccentric people, including Orbán, the official who filled out his registration form, who, it appeared, was on a quest of his own. As if this is not enough, Andris enjoys some rather unusual surreal experiences too.

The script is original and well-presented by director Gazdag. It is full of unexpected and delightful twists and turns. It is by no means a simplistic film; it has elements of Mozart's enchanting 'The Magic Flute', giving this film greater depth. The black-and-white cinematography, a combination of hand-held and stationary camera footage, is excellent. Credit to cinematographer Elemér Ragalyi. I found the soundtrack, mostly classical music, adding to the ambiance of this Hungarian film. The protagonist, young Dávid Vermes, gives a great performance of Andris, who at times appears stoical, but underneath the façade is a very uncertain lad. The subtitles are adequate, although the white letters at times are not that clearly visible when seen against a light background. This minor criticism that does not detract from this little gem of a film. 'A Hungarian Fairy Tale' deserves to be seen more widely. 8.5/10.

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