Much of the merit of Zoltán Huszárik?s Szindbád (1971) is likely to be lost on those uninitiated in Hungarian cinema and literature. The film has little narrative to speak of: what story there is centres on the title character Szindbád, who sails, like his namesake, but in a metaphorical sense. Szindbád has spent his life navigating seas of women, without ever quite fathoming the depths of their emotions. Set mainly at the end of this Lothario?s life, at the turn of the 20th century, the film follows him as he visits ageing former lovers and recalls his previous conquests in flashbacks, some lasting a few seconds, others several minutes.
The most accessible charm of this film is its aesthetic. Szindbád begins with a series of intriguing extreme close-ups, mainly of objects from the natural world: smouldering wood, a lock of blonde hair, rain dripping from roof tiles, lilies unfurling, all to a haunting soundtrack of dissonant piano notes and a woman?s playful laughter. The entire film is punctuated by similarly surreal shots of everyday objects, filmed so close that they become strange. The film?s extreme long shots are equally appealing, and capture the lyrical quality of the Central European countryside in every season: mist-wrapped mountains; onion-domed churches watching over lush green meadows; leaf-littered graveyards; snowy tree-lined avenues. Szindbád also benefits from saturated colour photography that emphasises the beauty and variety of the landscape, objects and costumes.
Feature from the film