Jun 21, 2014

The Tragedy of Man: Male Nudity and Hungarian Heterosexism

Maybe it's because they've suffered through one invasion after another, from Mongols, Turks, Hapsburgs, Nazis, and Soviets, but the Hungarians like their stories sad.  And heterosexist. And long.

The most popular movie in Hungary?  The Turin Horse (2011):  a family depends upon their aging horse for survival, but it dies.  134 minutes.

The most popular novel in Hungary?  Satantango (1985), by  László Krasznahorkai, about people scrambling to survive when their collective farm closes at the end of the Communist period.  It was made into a movie in 1994.  7 hours long.

The most popular play?  Az ember tragédiája, The Tragedy of Man, written by Imre Madách in 1861.  It's sort of like a more depressing version of Cloud Atlas: Adam, Eve, and Lucifer are reincarnated in various historical eras:

In ancient Athens, Adam is the chariot-racer Miltiades, Eve his wife, and Lucifer a guard.
In medieval Constantinople, Adam is crusader Tancred, Lucifer his squire.
In Paris during the French Revolution, Adam is revolutionary leader Georges Danton, Lucifer an executioner, and Eve is an aristocrat being executed.
In a future dystopia, Adam and Lucifer are drug dealers, and Eve is a worker.

Finally, in a distant-future ice age where the Earth is dying, Adam and Lucifer are themselves, and Eve is a destitute woman who begs them for fish.

Some of the stories center on the heterosexual romance of Adam and Eve.

Others center on the same-sex bond of Adam and Lucifer.

But Lucifer is only pretending to care for Adam; his real goal is to tempt him into committing suicide, thus destroying the human race.

Back in Eden, Lucifer almost succeeds.  Adam is about to throw himself off a cliff, to save humanity from a future of bloodshed, oppression, bigotry, and pain, when Eve tells him that she's pregnant.  Then, finally, he has the will to go on.

Heterosexual romance makes it all worthwhile.

Horribly, horribly depressing.  But at least Adam is nude a lot.

In Hungary all of the schoolkids have to read it, and it's performed all the time.

 There have been several film versions.

The 1984 version has Adam and Eve played by naked prepubescent children, discovering that the meaning of life lies in each other's arms.

The 2011 animated version took 20 years to complete, and is 3 hours long.  You can see the trailer on youtube.

See also: 13 Public Penises of Hungary.