Dutch researchers at the Amsterdam-based EYE Film Institute have discovered one of the oldest extant Hungarian films: A Munkászubbony (The Work Jacket), first shown on January 12th, 1915. Lost for decades, The Work Jacket is one of the longest Hungarian silent films of the era.
The film, directed by István Bródy, stars Gyula Hegedűs, one of the most important actors of his day in Hungary. In fact, one of the streets behind the Vígszínház (Comedy Theatre of Budapest), where Hegedűs performed, bears his name to this very day.
Dutch researchers who found the silent film initially believed it to be of Austrian origin, due to the German writing found on the reel which (incorrectly) identified the contents as a German production of Ferenc Lehár’s Cigányszerelem (Gypsy Love). When they viewed the film, however, they noticed that it was not, in fact, Lehár’s operetta, and after a period of deeper research they found that the content matched the description of The Work Jacket, which they found in the database of Hungarian film encyclopedia site hangosfilm.hu. Examining the film’s actors as well as extant articles written about Bródy’s silent drama, researchers identified the reel’s contents.
The Work Jacket will soon be sent to the Hungarian National Film Archives’ collection, where it will be restored and digitalized.
In total, there are only a handful of films from Hungary’s silent film era, roughly 1900-1930, that have survived intact to the present day. The majority of the films that have been preserved are missing portions, or are damaged, and often the only content left of the films are photos or articles written about them. In this sense, the discovery of The Work Jacket is a sensational addition to the world of Hungarian film history, as until now the Hungarian National Film Archive had no content from the film.
While footage of The Work Jacket has yet to be released, the Hungarian National Film Archive has released plenty of other content from the early days of Hungarian film, including a clip of the first film recording produced in Hungary (in 1896), which you can view below:
Via MTI, mnf.hu, and Fidelio.hu
Images via the Hungarian National Film Archive, film.hu, and the Vígszínház
Video via Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchivum official YouTube Channel