Sydney Film Festival: My 20th Century (1988)

Alexander McPherson
11th Jun 2018

…“Bizarre”….“Ahead of it’s time”

A story of two orphans girls separated at a young age, bound by fate, connected by the stars and eventually brought together once more through a series of synchronicities and a rather clever donkey.

What is really going on, and does it really matter? Is this the imaginings of one mind or many? Tis a multi-layered journey, with bells, whistles, a gallivanting train and two pigeons in a cage. I write this review with some sort of illusive flair, as that too is how the movie seems to roll, through old 8mm film, as if it were in-fact shot in the early 20th Century.

Each frame is a beautiful artwork onto itself, from the exploration of light and sound (at the birth of the fluorescent bulb), to the slow tale of a man smoking and reading in his humble home. Ildikó Enyedi’s refined and understated composition screams of artistic maturity. Incredible, bearing in mind this was her debut film when it won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes back in 1989.

The film is in some way a reflection and commentary upon women, their place and power in the world. This theme seems to hinge around an almost sickening lecture, in which a narcissistic (and in my opinion, scared) little man claims “women do not exist”. The two twins in their own and very opposing approaches seem to be pursuing a path of autonomous jurisdiction. Enyedi is perhaps highlighting the incredibly dynamic power of the feminine, beyond the grasp of mans’ intellect.

If you’re one who is captured by beautiful images, likes to delve down unconventional roads and is willing to let the mind wander I would certainly do my best to see My 20th Century, especially if you’re able to capture it in its full glory on the big screen, otherwise try and find a copy of the recent, digitally restored edition.

Note to self: Your sweet intellectual theorems are unlikely to encapsulate the obscure majesty of this Masterpiece.