Ernő Szép (1884–1953) was a distinguished Hungarian poet, novelist, playwright, and journalist of Jewish origin. The profound depths of his life and poetry are revived in Győző Ferencz’s new film adaptation of the poet’s novel, The Smell of Humans. This stoic and lyrical narrative of twenty fateful days offers a historically and artistically authentic account of an inhuman era.
In the autumn of 1944 the 60-year-old Ernő Szép, along with other Jewish men, was called up for forced labor. By then he had been evicted from the hotel on Margit Island, Budapest, that had been his home for 33 years, and was interned in a building marked by the yellow star on Pozsonyi Street. Eventually he was released after three weeks, thanks to a protective pass from the Swedish Embassy, after he had a first-hand experience of Nazi inhumanity.
His memoir, The Smell of Humans, is a diary-like account of the long marches, nights spent at sports stadiums and brick-yards, the atrocities and cold-blooded murders committed by Hungarian Arrow Cross guards, the methodical acts of terror that robbed Jews of all human dignity and made their tormentors shed their humanity. Yet Ernő Szép’s voice, here as in his other works, remains graceful and spontaneous, steeped in empathy as he recounts his tribulations while maintaining an ironic distance. The sentences of The Smell of Humans emanate the same aura of humanity confronting tragedy that makes his poems so moving. In this dramatization based on his memoir the included poems and chansons from Ernő Szép’s oeuvre add a note of lyrical counterpoint.
In Hungarian with Bulgarian subtitles
The performance is not suitable for people under 12.
The streaming of the production is accessible for free for 72 hours from 20 June, 7 pm, till 23 June, 7 pm, on the territory of Bulgaria on viafest.org.
About the Streamed Film-Plays of Madách Theatre, Budapest
During the pandemic era, Madách Theatre – one of Hungary’s leading repertory theatres –ventured into film-making, turning its studio theatre space into a fully-fledged TV studio. The Theatre soon started producing so called „streamed film-plays” – a special format merging the art forms of theatre, TV and cinema – under the programme title of „Madách SzínpadON”, which have been very well-received by audiences both from Hungary and abroad.
In 2022, Madách Theatre focuses on producing a series of streamed film-plays about the lives and lovers of internationally acclaimed Hungarian literary figures. These are brand-new works written for the screen by contemporary Hungarian authors using excerpts of the said authors’ letters and other biographical and historical documents, and featuring leading Hungarian actors and actresses.
The streaming of the production is supported by the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Sofia.