Hungary revolution gets Hollywood treatment - Feb 12, 2007

Hungary revolution gets Hollywood treatment

Source: Reuters, by Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The Hollywood-style cinema treatment of Hungary's 1956 revolution that was crushed by the Soviets and the water polo team's Olympic revenge was made to appeal to viewers worldwide, its producer Andrew G. Vajna said.

It should come as no surprise that Vajna, who became a top Hollywood producer after fleeing Hungary in 1956, would use the political and sporting drama of that year as the backdrop for a fictional love story in his film "Children of Glory".

Vajna, who has produced a wide range of films from "Rambo" and "Total Recall" to "Evita", said he harboured hopes of making a major drama about that eventful year ever since he escaped. It's been close to my heart since I left at 12," Vajna told Reuters after his "Children of Glory" (or "Szabadsag, szerelem") earned thunderous applause at a Berlin film festival screening. "It was ultimately a good thing for me that it happened -- it gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in America . It's also a good thing for everyone. It changed everything. The Berlin Wall would not have fallen without the Hungarian revolution."

Vajna, now 62, kept looking for the right way to make the film about Hungary 's upheaval in between producing blockbuster franchises like "Terminator" and "Die Hard". He got serious about the project nine years ago. Asked why it took so long, Vajna quipped: "Why didn't you come up with it before? I don't know. I guess it just takes time for an idea to mature."


Vajna said the 50th anniversary of 1956 got his mind focused. It was the top Hungarian language film of 2006 in Hungary with 451,000 viewers and is now being sold worldwide. "It took a long time to find the right keyhole into it," Vajna said. "I kept thinking: how do I approach this and make it interesting and exciting? It's a sports, revolution and love story. Those layers were all needed to make it a special story."

Yet the film's Hollywood touches and romanticised view of the revolution attracted criticism in Hungary from historians and even some members of the famous 1956 water polo team. Sometimes known as "the splash heard round the world", the Hungary water polo team's victory over the Soviets at the semi-finals of the 1956 Olympics was, according to accounts, a ferocious match with plenty of blood spilled in the pool.

Hungary 's improbable triumph -- they went on to win the gold medal -- came weeks after the Soviet tanks had rolled into Budapest . Some 5,000 Hungarians and 700 Soviets were killed.

Set against that, "Children of Glory" is a tragic tale of a water polo star (played by Ivan Fenyo) who falls in love with a charismatic student leader of the revolution (Kata Dobo), and temporarily trades his swim suit for a rifle to fight Soviets. He later rejoins his team as they head for the Olympics, when they believed the Soviets had left Hungary . They are shocked to learn the Red Army returns to put down the uprising. "It's a small, intimate and emotional story about a little country that stood up for its rights," Vajna said.

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