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Sunshine Lowest new price: $25.84
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Although Sunshine was made by a Hungarian, István Szabó, and deals with the history of Hungary as refracted through three generations of a Jewish-Hungarian family, you might be more inclined to give it three hours of your own life if you approach i

Although Sunshine was made by a Hungarian, István Szabó, and deals with the history of Hungary as refracted through three generations of a Jewish-Hungarian family, you might be more inclined to give it three hours of your own life if you approach it as a David Lean movie in spirit. It is an English-language picture, and Maurice Jarre's music recalls his score for Doctor Zhivago. Szabó emulates Lean's intimate-epic style of merging the sweep of history with the crystalline detailing of individual lives, so that the shape of destiny is glimpsed through personal moments that feel at once evanescent and eternal. His lighting cameraman, Lajos Koltai, is one of the handful of cinematographers equal to capturing these moments in lapidary images--cinematic sunshine of the highest order.

"Sunshine" is a literal translation of Sonnenschein, the family name of the central characters. And "destiny" is one meaning of Sors, the name three Sonnenschein offspring choose for themselves to better assimilate as subjects of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Two are brothers, Ignatz (Ralph Fiennes) and Gustave (James Frain); their sister (by adoption) Valerie (Jennifer Ehle) is really their cousin. Both men love her, and Ignatz rocks the ultratraditional family by taking her as his wife. Nevertheless, the Sonnenscheins and the Sors enter upon the 20th century in loving solidarity, grateful to live under a liberal and tolerant regime. That's all swept away by the Great War, the rise of Nazism, and its replacement, the new fascism of Stalinist Communism. Valerie survives them all--though she's played later on by Rosemary Harris, Ehle's own mother. For his part--or parts--Ralph Fiennes goes on to embody two later generations of Sonnenschein/Sors men, the proudly patriotic Adam and his son, the rudderless Ivan, whose guilt over being a compliant prisoner at Auschwitz leads him to buy into the passionate puritanism of the Stalinist purges. Fiennes rises to the awesome challenge of creating three utterly distinct characters who all share the same congenital weaknesses and aching potential for greatness.

This is a film of considerable beauty and sometimes shattering power. Even three hours is not enough to do justice to all the characters, all the wrenching turnarounds of history and political allegiance and rectitude. But the film is never less than gripping, and as an essay on "family values," it's well-nigh definitive. --Richard T. Jameson

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The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin Lowest new price: $99.00
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A princess and a miner's son quell a revolt by subterranean goblins; animated. Voices of Claire Bloom, Joss Ackland, Sally Ann Marsh.

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Willy the Sparrow

Willy the Sparrow Lowest new price: $31.00
Lowest used price: $1.66
List price: $19.95
Brand: Willy the Sparrow VHS

An amazing adventure teaches a young boy respect, kindness and the value of knowledge. What would it feel like to be a bird and fly over trees and housetops? A boy named Willy finds out when the Sparrow Guardian turns him into a sparrow for shooting a BB gun at the little birds! Suddenly, Willy’s own cat thinks of him as lunch but, luckily, some new sparrow friends rush to Willy’s rescue. They deliver him to a grandfatherly old bird named Cipur who takes Willy under his wing, teaches him how to fly, and so much more. In return, Willy fulfills Cipur’s lifelong dream for knowledge by teaching him how to read. Willy’s new friendships help him understand that all creatures have feelings and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Before Willy is turned back into a boy, he leads the sparrows in a brave but perilous plan to retake their home in the barn from Blacky the cat. Finally, the Sparrow Guardian offers Willy a very special opportunity.



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Kontroll Lowest new price: $9.16
Lowest used price: $2.54
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Brand: Velocity Home Entertment

The Budapest subway system, the world's second oldest, is a dark, labyrinthine netherworld as vast and various as the city above it. Of the hoards of people who can be found there, most are passing through on their ways to better, brighter places, where the sunlight shines and fresh breezes blow. But, there are those who spend most of their lives underground - the beleaguered ticket inspectors or "controllers", who are assigned in teams to various sections of the system, and whose thankless job it is to ensure that no passengers ride without paying. Deployed by those in control - unseen authority figures who monitor the trains and travelers on massive grids and screens - these inspector teams are a much-despised lot. Who, on his way to work or to an appointment, wants to be stopped and asked for a receipt? And who, having sneaked through a turnstile, wants to be apprehended by petty officers who represent power at its most powerless?

The setting of Kontroll is the Budapest subway system, one of the largest and oldest in the world, and a place that becomes an omniscient character in an ambitious film that jumbles dark comedy, slick action, and horror-movie conventions. The other main character is Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), part of a team of disheveled ticket inspectors--controllers--who roam the grimy, fluorescent-lit city-under-the-city in a soul-destroying ritual. The job has become such a part of Bulcsú that he never leaves the underground. He has taken to sleeping on empty platforms and getting progressively more unkempt as he accumulates more bruises, bloody noses, and bitterness from his scraps with a variety of unseemly creatures of the night (and day). Among the post-punk, post-communist habitués of this subterranean metropolis are a cute girl in a teddy-bear suit, a rival gang of ticket inspectors who like to play a deadly game of chicken with express trains, and a hooded specter who may or may not be pushing people under subway wheels at crowded stops. First-time director Nimród Antal keenly juggles black comedy, character types, and genre styles, making the most of the weird angles and inherent dark creepiness of his chosen backdrop. Kontroll keeps pace as a hip, flashy, fast-moving set piece by any international measure. --Ted Fry

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Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy Sunday Lowest new price: $15.99
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Brand: Warner Home Video

Gloomy Sunday (DVD) (WS)

The magic of music, the power of love, the evils of money, and the horror of genocide are the weighty themes tackled in Gloomy Sunday, a moving German-Hungarian film from director/co-writer Rolf Schubel. Released theatrically in 1999, it's said to have been "inspired by actual events," and it is true that the title song, written in the '30s by Rezso Seress (with Hungarian lyrics by Laszlo Javor), was a worldwide hit in its day; it's also a fact that the song has since been covered dozens of times, by artists ranging from Billie Holiday to Bjork and Elvis Costello. As for the suggestion that "Gloomy Sunday" was banned after being connected to multiple suicides, including the composer's, that's a bit more dicey. In any case, it plays a pivotal role in the love story set in Budapest during the ascension of the Third Reich and the onset of the Holocaust. Restaurant owner Laszlo (Joachim Krol) is in love with Ilona, his hostess (Erika Marozsán), a dark-eyed beauty who plays men as easily as Horowitz plays "Chopsticks"; she loves him as well, but that doesn't mean she won't welcome Andras (Stefano Dionisi), the restaurant's new piano player, into her bed as well. Everyone seems to handle that with admirable equanimity, at least until the young German Hans (Ben Becker) inserts himself into the scene. Having been rejected by Ilona, Hans throws himself into the Danube, only to be rescued by Laszlo; when he assures his savior that "We'll meet again," we know that's not necessarily a good thing. Indeed, when Hans returns to Budapest, he's a Nazi colonel. Things get hairy in a hurry after that: Laszlo is Jewish, Ilona still doesn't want Hans, and we're left to discover if the German officer is either another Oskar Schindler or a heartlessly venal criminal loyal only to himself. All of this is played out against the backdrop of a lovely city, with costumes, art direction, and a palette of rich, warm colors creating a convincing period feel. The DVD has no bonus features, but a cursory search of the 'net will turn up multiple versions of the title tune, a sweet but melancholy melody that sounds, as one character puts it, "as if someone were saying something you don't want to hear" but know to be true. --Sam Graham

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Fateless Lowest new price: $15.98
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List price: $14.98
Brand: Image Entertainment

Don’t miss this unforgettable story of a child who had the courage to come home.

Set in 1944, as Hitler’s Final Solution becomes policy throughout Europe, Fateless is the semi-autobiographical tale of a 14 year-old Jewish boy from Budapest, who finds himself swept up by cataclysmic events beyond his comprehension. A perfectly normal metropolitan teen who has never felt particularly connected to his religion, he is suddenly separated from his family as part of the rushed and random deportation of his city’s large Jewish population. Brought to a concentration camp, his existence becomes a surreal adventure in adversity and adaptation, and he is never quite sure if he is the victim of his captors, or of an absurd destiny that metes out salvation and suffering arbitrarily. When he returns home after the liberation, he missed the sense of community he experienced in the camps, feeling alienated from both his Christian neighbors who turned a blind eye to his fate, and the Jewish family friends who avoided deportation and who now want to put the war behind them.

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Copying Beethoven

Copying Beethoven Lowest new price: $50.00
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When young Anna Holz (Diane Kruger), a Viennese music student is asked to transcribe scoring notes for the great Ludwig van Beethoven (Harris), she eagerly accepts, despite warnings about his volatile behavior. Part maestro, part mentor and part madman, Beethoven reluctantly relies on Anna to help him realize the culmination of his art.

A passionate, powerful drama based loosely on the final months of Ludwig van Beethoven's life, Copying Beethoven finds the maestro a haunted man, composing the most revolutionary yet unappreciated work of his lifetime; largely deaf; disappointed in his relationship with a wastrel nephew; and fascinated by a young, female composer, Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger), who goes to work for him transcribing music. Staying as a guest at a convent and engaged to a stolid engineer, Anna is drawn to Beethoven’s tempestuous genius. Half the time he's enchanted by her and seems to see straight through to her soul. The other half, he's shouting at her for her timidity or flattery. Hardly a mouse, Anna fights back. The more she does, the more Beethoven recognizes in her a kindred survivor, someone with whom he can reveal his vulnerability and the burden of his artistry. Ed Harris' Beethoven is wracked by pain but not overwhelmed by it; he looks like a man who understands his responsibility to nature too well to merely disintegrate. ("God whispers in most men's ears," Beethoven says. "He shouts in mine.") Director Agnieszka Holland (Olivier, Olivier) oversees a handsome, alternately tender and brutal drama, with several thrilling moments, including the stunned look of audience members hearing the world premiere of the glorious 9th Symphony. --Tom Keogh

Copying Beethoven Extras

Watch Ed Harris speak about portraying Beethoven in this exclusive clip.

Beyond Copying Beethoven

Copying Beethoven Soundtrack

Famous Composers: Ludwig Van Beethoven

More From MGM

Stills from Copying Beethoven



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The Red and The White

The  Red and The White Lowest used price: $19.98
List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino Video

Banned for many years in the USSR, Hungarian director Miklos Jancso's masterful The Red and the White is a haunting, powerful film about the absurdity and evil of war. Set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918, the story details the murderous entanglements between Russia's Red soldiers and the counter-revolutionary Whites in the hills along the Volga. The epic conflict moves with skillful speed from a deserted monastery to a riverbank hospital to a final, unforgettable hillside massacre. The director of such Hungarian cinema classics as Silence and Cry (1968), My Way Home (1967), Jancso here creates what many believe to be his finest work. The Red and the White is a moving visual feast where very inch of the cinemascope frame is used to magnificent effect. With his brilliant use of exceptionally long takes, vast and unchanging landscapes and Tames Somlo's hypnotic black and white photography, Jancso gives the film the quality of a surreal nightmare. In the director's uncompromising world, people lose all sense of identity and become hopeless pawns in the ultimate game of chance.



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The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin Lowest new price: $148.11
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Brand: Gaiam

This magical tale springs to life in this brilliantly animated full-length feature film based on the classic fairy tale by George MacDonald. When a peaceful kingdom is menaced by an army of monstrous goblins, a brave and beautiful princess joins forces wi


  • One of the finest fairy tales ever written comes to life!The magical tale of the Princess and the Goblin springs to life in this brilliantly animated full-length feature film based on theic fairy tale. When a peaceful kingdom is menaced by an army of monstrous goblins, a brave and beautiful princess joins forces with a resourceful peasant boy to rescue the noble king.Run Time: 82 Minutes Format

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Father Lowest new price: $9.99
Lowest used price: $8.50
Brand: Kino International

Ever since the death of his father, young Tako (Dani Erdelyi) has filled the paternal void with a series of fantasies in which his father (Miklos Gabor) is envisioned as a partisan freedom-fighter, a cultured world traveler and a decorated hero. When he reaches manhood, Tako (Andras Ballint) struggles to live up to the heroic image he crafted, even as he discovers a world in which valor has little place. But he cannot relinquish the comforting daydreams, and as the fantasies he harbors become more elaborate, the mythic father becomes a heroic protector of the Hungarian Jews during the Nazi occupation.


  • Factory sealed DVD

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