Karoly Makk, Acclaimed Hungarian Filmmaker, Dies at 91

When “Love” (“Szerelem” in Hungarian) was released in the United States in 1973, Vincent Canby of The Times ranked it among the year’s 10 best movies. (Among the others were François Truffaut’s “Day for Night” and George Lucas’s “American Graffiti.”)

Reviewing the film for The Guardian, Derek Malcolm wrote, “The passages between the anxious old lady and her fraught but outwardly calm daughter-in-law in the stuffy little bedroom piled with mementos are brilliantly intricate, achieved with a still reflective force that is quite exceptional.”

Lili Darvas, the Hungarian-born actress who played the old woman, was 68 and living in New York when “Love” was filmed, but Mr. Makk was concerned about whether she could play her much older character.

“I asked, ‘What do you want, an old lady or an actress?’ ” Ms. Darvas recalled to The Times.

One morning during the shooting, she said, Mr. Makk and a cameraman gathered around her. “How did you sleep?” they asked her. “I said, ‘Fine.’ They were disgusted. The director said: ‘I knew it, there was the most beautiful wrinkle around your eye yesterday and now it’s gone. Please, please try not to sleep at all.’ ”

Photo

Lili Darvas as the mother-in-law in Karoly Makk’s 1971 film “Love.”

Credit
Ajay, via Photofest

Ms. Darvas and Mari Torocski, who played the daughter-in-law, received special mentions at Cannes for their roles in “Love.”

“Cats’ Play” (1975) told the story of two sisters looking back on their lives, mostly through the exchange of letters. Reviewing it in The Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas wrote, “Makk’s quick cuts of tinted footage — like an ancient family album come to life — are almost subliminal” and “another way of approximating memory.”

The film lost the Palme d’or, the highest honor at Cannes, to Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation,” and the Oscar for best foreign-language film went to Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord.”

Six of Mr. Makk’s films were nominated for the Palme d’or. None were winners.

Mr. Makk was born on Dec. 22, 1925, in Berettyoujfalu, in eastern Hungary, where his parents owned a movie theater, providing him with an early cinematic education.

He was later an assistant on an experimental expressionist film and worked for a newsreel studio, where a…

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