Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. Written by
...on why this film is doing well in communities unafraid to see subtitled films. For one thing, the beginning and ending create and resolve a compelling mystery (most of the film is a flashback). For another, you may or may not believe that a song could drive people to suicide, but you must admit it is a beautiful, sad and haunting melody. The story held my interest, as did the characters. The other obvious appeal was the opportunity to gaze endlessly at the incredibly lovely and angelic Erika Marozsán. I am female and straight and I could not get enough of looking at her; I could easily believe that she might inspire a piece of music that conveyed its composer's hopeless longing for her. (And he wasn't so hard to look at himself!) The only thing I couldn't figure out about Mr. Simpson's comments was what the film had to do with New Zealand. Now I know: nothing! :-)
According to the Los Angeles Times review of this film, "The song was actually composed in 1935 by Rezsö Seress, with lyrics by László Jávor, and did in fact accompany a number of suicides as Europe grew darker; Billie Holliday recorded a popular American version." So I guess it's not so far-fetched after all! Who knew?
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