The Milestone Arts Society hosted their first ever Arts Review Competition. After careful consideration three reviews were chosen by the Division Head of Arts, Literature and Humanities. Congratulations to the winners and to all writers! Stay tuned for a report on their trip to the Berlinálé Film Festival for which each winner was awarded a flight ticket.
Adél Marx – Frida Kahlo @ MNG
“I painted my own reality.”
When Frida Kahlo was travelling on a bus the driver pulled in front of a tram and vehicle got crushed against a wall. Frida, who was already disabled due to a childhood virus infection affecting her leg, got seriously injured – her spine and pelvic was damaged which led her to endless pain and three miscarriages during her life. She was in life danger for several days and could never recover completely. Her second “accident” was an even bigger one: she fell in love with Diego Rivera, the most famous artist in Mexico at the time. She fell for him even though he was always cheating on her. Her art is a testimony to her physical and emotional pain, her never-ending misery.
André Breton, a surrealist poet said Frida was also a surrealist artist – as might be drawn from a picture like “Henry Ford Hospital”, but she refused. She said: “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” She was also considered a feminist, but actually she was not one – Frida never wanted to be equal to Diego or any man, she only wanted to be loved. Misery and passion was her life and reality. Kahlo had always been completely honest and open, not being ashamed of her looks, never afraid to paint her private life and feelings.
Due to her last will and testament that her works cannot be taken from her workshop, only 35 paintings are presented in the Hungarian National Gallery. It must have been difficult to make a complete exhibition with so few images, but Adriána Lantos, the curator of the exhibit managed to present every important part of her life and art. The exhibition screams Frida Kahlo. The walls are painted with strong colours: bold red, green, yellow, blue and pink, which can all be found in the art of Frida. At the end of the exhibition, there is a whole room only for Kahlo references in pop- and contemporary art as well, which shows that she has always been a popular inspiration due to her articulate, yet extraordinary and decorative art.
The big gaps between the pictures are not disturbing as because of the useful texts and the timeline on the walls. “The Broken Column”, one of Frida’s most famous pieces is put in the first room, immediately taking the visitors to the essence of Kahlo as it is the best picture to represent her art, springing from her endless pain. It is a self-portrait picturing Frida with her bad spine as an ionic column, tears dripping down from her eyes, nails all over her body, desert behind her (referring to her body being unable to give birth), open chest and her face looking like a medieval portrayal of a lady – staring still, bearing her misery. She always had a moustache and “ugly” eyebrows, because of which we might consider her unique and different, but it was actually common in Mexico for women to have such things.
Watching the film “Frida” by Salma Hayek before visiting the exhibition is recommended, as it gives a deeper understanding of the artist, her life and the exhibit as well. Creating an incredible exhibition like this was more than being worth it despite the challenges the curator faced and even without many famous pieces, like “Viva la Vida”. Frida Kahlo is clearly an artist who deserves to be remembered and appreciated, not for her suffering but for her unique love of life.
Sarolta Barna – Waltz With Bashir
When we think of a documentary, we usually imagine real people talking, and filmed
events that really happened, because documentary movies are intended to show us some
aspects of the real world. That’s why Ari Folman’s animated historical documentary is
special. A documentary’s aim is to show us reality, but with an animation we usually create
something new, a world that only exists in our imagination. However, when we watch the
film, we realize that it was the best way to tell his story.
The film concentrates on Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and then more
specifically the Sabra and Shatila massacre and its victims in the Palestinian refugee camps in
Beirut. Ari Folman, the director of the movie who was part of the Israeli defence forces, is
talking to his friend with whom he did military service. The man complains about his
recurring nightmare about 26 dogs, and tells him how this dream relates to the Lebanese
war. Listening to his friend, Ari realizes something astonishing; he cannot remember
anything about the time he served in the military. Later that day, he tries to think about the
Lebanese war for the first time since it ended, and he can only think about one detail, which
he’s not even sure is real. He decides to visit his former friends from that time, asking them
to remember, so he goes on a journey in the hope of regaining his memory.
As the protagonist goes from one interviewee to another, they all share their
experiences and stories of the war, letting Ari to put the pieces together and being able to
remember more and more details. While the interviewees tell their story, it is actually shown
what happened in this Middle Eastern war, making it easier to understand their experiences.
One man tells him about travelling on a “love boat” and dreaming about floating in the
water on a huge naked woman while the others are killed. Another man remembers a boy
attacking them with an RPG. And because of these stories, we know why Ari Folman
animated his adventure. How else could have he depicted such terrible, still spectacular
scenes? He found the best way to present this story, and its unique way made it more
enjoyable for the audience. His rotoscope-animation and use of very few colours give a
memorable comic book feeling to the movie, making it more fantasy-like.
Not only the fact that it’s an animation makes it seem like war is not that terrible, but
the music also helps us through the horrors of it. In many fight scenes, we can only hear the
music, which distracts our attention from all the blood and death. Once there’s a soldier on
the beach pretending his machine gun is a guitar, and he plays it while in the background we
can see tanks firing and buildings burning. Then there’s the scene that inspired the title;
many civilians watching a soldier in the middle of the street shooting the enemy, but instead
of crossing the road and hiding, he seems to dance away from the bullets. The buildings are
full of the pictures of the elected president of Lebanon; Bashir, so the soldier is technically
waltzing with Bashir. Music is an important factor in the movie; songs from rock to
something classical can be heard throughout the horrifying scenes of the Lebanese war.
Although sometimes our attention is distracted from the shocking events of the war,
the movie shows us how we really destroy our world. The part that portrays suffering horses
represents that we don’t only cause pain for ourselves, but many other creatures in our
environment. However, the most shocking scene is the ending, when we can see the grieving
women on the streets in the refugee camps after the massacre, shouting and screaming for
their loved ones. It’s an incredibly distressing sight, but Folman made it more shocking by
switching from animation to real videos of these women. By showing us tanks in the streets
of a city, crashing cars and destroying walls, we can see that war really devastates every single
detail of our surrounding.
Besides the ways how war ruins our environment, the movie portrays the damages it
causes to our mental health. The whole movie is about a former soldier not being able to
remember anything from the war, so it also affects our minds in a negative way. The film
analyses our memory, and how we can believe something really happened when it’s only our
imagination. One of the characters stated that our memory is dynamic, and it fills the holes
with things that never happened.
After all, this movie is the perfect mixture of two genres, and Folman combines the
topic of war and the human mind in an extraordinary way. I believe that it’s thought-
provoking and includes many important topics. It’s based on real events and actual people’s
experiences, so I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Júlia Hargitai – The Silent Revolution
The Silent Revolution:
We all know the feeling when our headphones just die at the worst moments. A second ago you
were listening to the loud music, everything was fun and noisy around you, and suddenly. The
headphone just decided to stop working, and it’s all silent around you. That’s the sort of emotion
you have, when you sit in the theatre seats of The Silent Revolution. It may seem like exaggeration,
but it surely is not.
Kids from the 20th century, just living their regular lives. Teens who have different political views and
are ready to act on them. Young adults, who would even sacrifice their own safety and well-being for
their teammates. Mature grown-ups who know they must leave to find justice for their own. You are
one of them. As you are just sitting there, in the dark, surrounded by either family, friends or
strangers, you feel like you are in there, with them. With the young generation of rebels. Because
we’ve all been in their situation once in our lifetime. We all had moments where we stood up for
something so bright, and something we believed in. When we had to rebel against a system, because
we knew exactly it was wrong. When we had to fight for our friends, the people we trust the most.
Lastly, when we had to realise the ugly truth about our parents’ past, what they kept in secret for so
long with the intention of protecting us. When you sit in that seat, nothing around you, those
emotions and memories come back. There is a loud and powerful motivation in your heart, to stand
up and fight. Fight for yourself, your friends, your country, your pride. It’s roaring and it takes over
your body. The hint of revolution hits your heart and if you could, you’d run out of the cinema and
scream. But you can’t. Because someone is stopping you. Because you see how the higher power
tries to suffocate the youngsters in achieving their goals. With that, a sudden disappointment hits
you. Negative memories, and feelings of being used and locked down. Suddenly, you can’t move or
talk. It’s all silent. Your throat doesn’t allow you to talk, but inside you there’s that fire that wants to
burn everything that is a boundary for its spreading. But physically you can’t. In one second to the
other, the whole room is silent. No giggles, and small fun talks with classmates and friends. Nothing.
Just the beat of hearts and breathing. I notice tears coming to my eyes. As I look around, I realise,
I’m not alone. We all are stuck in our minds. Invisible chains are locking us to our chairs. Our fighting
spirit is broken. The people on the screen broke it. But I see light in the people’s eyes as I look left
and right. Because we are those teens. Like them, we will also find ourselves and step up for
ourselves. And that fighting spirit slowly, but surely, will come back. When we leave that cinema and
investigate ourselves, it will come back.
That’s the sort of emotional ride this movie gave me. The way it captures the spirit of these young
kids, who just wanted to show respect to the fallen soldiers, here in Hungary is fantastic. The whole
point of the movie is to fire you up, then to break you, and build you up again. Not to mention, they
use the dialogues so stunningly. German language has a natural aggression in it, and in this film it’s
probably the biggest weapon. There are various scenes where everything is silent, you feel the
anxiety in your stomach, and suddenly someone starts to yell in this aggressive language. It’s
fascinating really. I’d recommend everyone to go and watch it if you have the chance. I can
guarantee, it will move you and give you something that you can rely on in your later life. Something
so special that nothing else could. It’s different for everyone. So, I’d say, go and find out what it is for