Floating cinema
The Blue Danube Simphony

Cultural mission of the Danube-Rheine-Maine-Seine canal
by Andras Szirtes



István Szechenyi has already about 200 years ago knew, how important is the connection of the people living around the same river. Because the river provide an opportunity to make business, and also to change the cultural experiences.
The RIVER is a ’collective line’ – with the help of we can create collective networks with each other all the time, and we can became friends, we can help each other, and learn more and more about the culture of each other.
It was the first reason why Istvan Szechenyi decided to go by boat from Budapest to Paris at the Danube-Rheine-Maine-Seine. He maneged to do his expedition sucessfully in the XIX-th century.

During the XX.century there were a lot of boat-expeditions. And a lot of documentumfilms were created there. An hungarian filmdirector - Alajos Paulus - also made such a film in 1975. I have been editor assistant in his film. His film represented how austrian,german,french engineers built the big canal. The director edited into his film a lot of original documentations (drawings, photographes) from István Szechenyi’s first hungarian expedition.

I always had a simmilar idea: I would do this expedition as a cultural mission.I thought, I would screen all the films created about the canal. I gave a name of this culutral mission: Floating Cinema.

I have already had some experience, because between 1987 - 1989 I made a round trip in the USA. I shewn all my films in art cinemas and universities.A good friend of mine, John Rubin, had an enterprise called Floating Cinema, and he had two boats on the Missisippi-river. The boats were equiped by projectors, screens and a lot of films. We just stoped with the boats in every villages and we organized every night a filmscreening for the audience. It was a heroic period in my life. We didn’t have mobilphones, internet, but we had a loudspeaker and when we arrived to the villages we walked around the village and we invited the people for the screening. Normally about 70 people watched the filmshows ocassionally.

The cultural mission:

First of all we have to collect every fotos, films, video documentations of the history of the Danube-Rheine-Maine-Seine canal. We have to digitalize all of the materials and edit a good screening program. We have to make subtitles as well: english, german, french. The program would contain different kinds of films, that observe the conception of the canal from economícal, ecological, architectural, cultural …etc point of view.

Second step would be to find a perfect boat for this Floating Cinema. We can rent or buy that.
It would be better to buy one because after the expedition it could be a museum and a fix screening place somewhere on the rivers. We have to make the design of the boat for the performances.

The third step would be to depart from Budapest to Paris by this boat.
We would stop in every villages and we would have one or two evening filmshow according to the above mentioned different point of views.

We would make a documentary film about all this expedition, including the screenings too. We would document the trip, the filmperformances, the nature at the rivers, the small villages and some reports with the people living around the rivers. In these reports the most important question would be, how living around the rivers influence their everyday life.

Fourth step: we arrive to Paris and we edit all the filmmaterials, that we shooted.
We would make different kinds of series for television companies.

Fifth step: We organize the first premiere of those films on the boat.


The preproduction: to collect every fotos, film- and video documentations of the canal from the hungarian, austrian, german, french filmarchives. It would take one mounth.
During this period we should buy or rent the boat and make the design for the expedition.
It would be the period to collect every technical equipments, materials for the expedition.

The production: to make the expedition from Budapest to Paris,
on the Danube-Rheine-Maine-Seine canal.
It would take 3-4 mounths. June, July, August, September.

The postproduction: Editing the films. September, October.
Have a filmpremier. October, November.

Andras Szirtes:


“The Drop”

A young man is standing by a small stream. Nature is all around. Untouched. He pulls a little screen from his bag and turns it on. Then he carefully takes a tiny red globe made of glass out of a small velvet box and lifts it up to the air. The screen hung in his neck displays the colored image. As he is turning the globe around, the screen displays the image the globe-cam is recording. ‘So far, so good’ he says. ‘Start your journey my sweet little drop and show us the world!’ he mumbles and tosses the tiny globe-cam into the clear currents of the brooklet streaming at his feet.

And then the drop starts its journey. It is going round and round stumbling across rocks in the flow of the stream. As it is bobbing up and down it sends wonderful images: fishes swimming briskly against the transparent currents of the flow; blue-shaded, soft dragonflies making love on moss-grown rocks; tiny snails and clams resting on the pebbles of the shore. The camera moves on passing wavering bunches of sedge and reed. Untouched virginity of nature. Harmony and unity. Blue skies, green grass, glittering sun above. Singing of birds, wind blowing, sound of water splashing against the rocks. As the creek turns and twists the drop gets stuck up on a piece of wood reaching down from the root of a tree. An army of ants is caught in the busy rushing of food up the trunk. The drop is watching the numerous tiny creatures carrying out their duty steadily and ardently just as they are supposed to. Its rest is washed up by a wave. Again, it is running down the waters reaching the size of a creek by now. Fishes and crawfishes come on in the currents, light shines all around in all possible shades of a rainbow. All of a sudden a green-bellied snake crosses the flow. The drop softly hops across its back and rushes on.

The creek gradually transforms into a river. Small houses appear in the distance. It is a lumber-yard. The scream of chain-saws breaks into the silence of nature. Men are working ashore in the same diligent manner as the ants before. Trees are falling and cracking as if they were sighing with relief as they are tumbling down. The surrounding mountains echo the sound of axes and saws. Muscular lumber-jacks fasten the trunks together with chains and thus form giant rafts of timber. The drop is washed aboard one of these rafts. And then the raft starts floating down the river.

Towns and villages appear on the shore. Boats are crossing the river exhausting blue and grey clouds of smoke. Oil stains the water, the color changes to something in the shade of brown. Enormous sewers empty their goods into the river. The scum is washed aboard the raft. Plastic bottles and bags, used tires and rubbish in all possible forms are floating down with the current. The river becomes a sewer itself washing away the waste people produce in their daily routine. A tow-boat passes the raft with a loud blow of its horn tipping it to the side and making the drop slip into the scummy water.

The drop is grabbed by a whirlpool and dragged below the surface. It is being twisted and turned in the filthy, brownish smut on the bottom. Then it starts to ascend. Feces and the mixture of yellowish chemicals form a non-transparent layer on the top. The drop surfaces amidst these conditions.

Noise, discord, horns blowing, brakes screeching, engines throbbing, a total urban cacophony. The river now proceeds in a concrete bed. Fast. The drop is passing below bridges of steel and wire. At the wharfs ships are lying at anchor. At the waterfront the roar of engines adds up to the noise of the city. Black smoke broods upon the water. The sky turns grey. Smothering smog and vapor. Acid rain starts to pour. The scummy waste on surface of the water is speckled with bubbles. A freight train is crossing the bridge above. On the riverbank factories and other industrial facilities appear. Their chimneys are puking thick clouds of smoke towards the sky blocking out the sun. Huge pipes of sewerage drain into the water carrying their unidentifiable waste. At the joint of the lines birds are preying for juicy pieces of organic matter.

The drop is then caught in the middle of an island of rotting animal carcass. Black carrion-eating birds are devouring the dead bodies. The water is filled with blood and internals. Dead fish are washed up against the island. Their bodies are green with waste. Their glassy eyes are staring at the sky. Island of carcass.

The noise of the city is blocked out by the scream of a dredging-boat anchored at the middle of the river. Machine without man. It is reaching down to the bottom of the riverbed scraping up rock and plunging it with a loud blast upon its deck. The island of carcass floats against its stern and gets sliced up making the drop free again.

The river broadens up. The concrete is gone. Green meadows and cultivated soil frame the landscape. The mechanical throbs of the city are replaced with the silence of nature. Only a few horn blows echo from the distance. The waste is spreading out on the surface. It is clearing up. Some fishes appear splashing and playing around. The drop is floating mid-current tipped occasionally by the waves of ship.

In the distance an enormous construct appears. It turns out to be a nuclear power plant. Giant pumps are sucking in water from the river. The drop also gets sucked in.

The drop is traveling across the cooling system of the reactor. It is washed around by an invisible force. The whole process is very quiet the only thing one can hear is the soft throb of pumps. The water is vaporized within. The drop leaves the system in a cloud of steam high up in the air.

The aerial view presents a total picture of the power plant and its vicinity. A wind is raising the drop higher and higher. The picture becomes multiple: mountains, a distant city, highways and the thin, silver line of the river.

The drop is caught in a cold that is swept above the city. The wind gains power, it slowly becomes a storm. Lightning crashes. Storm. A heavy shower falls down on the city.

The drop lands on the window of a huge apartment building. It peeks in. There are two people in the room. A man and a woman. It is dawning. Grey light is cast upon the couple embracing on the bed. There is a laptop on the table that controls the whole apartment. An alarm-clock is playing a tune. Light is slowly turning on. Household appliances start up in the kitchen. Coffee automat, toaster. A screen begins to display figures of the stock market. The couple is waking up. The woman embraces the man and tries to draw him into sex, but the man jumps out of the bed and steps right up to the coffee automat. He drinks his coffee and then starts to chew on a piece of toast. His movements are mechanical as if he was controlled by the computer as well. The woman gets up too. She goes to the window and stops in front of the drop. She pushes her face up to the glass. One is getting thus a close-up on her sleepy, wrinkled and pale features. She yawns. Her snow-white prosthetics shine in her mouth. She is checking herself down in the reflection of the window. She runs her fingers through her hair and strokes her tired face. She grimaces with dissatisfaction then hurries into the bathroom. The man steps out of the shower. With one hand he is trying to put on his clothes, with the other he is holding a cell-phone. All the while his glance is stuck on the figures on the screen. He gestures intensively and barks instructions into the cell-phone. The drop is then blown away from the window and lands on the hood of a car.

The car starts up and drags the drop through the morning rush-hour. The streets are crowded with people on their way to work. Traffic jams, clogged passes, signs, horns. At a sharp turn the drop slips up on the windscreen. The woman from the apartment building is driving the car. Three little children are chatting on the back-seat. She is handing them plastic glasses from which they are sipping cream with straws. They are crunching on corn-flakes too. At each red-light the mother puts on a little make-up using the rear-view mirror. Lipstick, powder and stuff like that. After the tenth stop her face is fresh and clean. No wrinkles, no spots. The “forever young” mother then drives up to the kindergarten and delivers her children.

The smashing of the door makes the drop fall down on the pavement. It is washed down into the sewer. An army of rats is running up and down on the pipelines. Sometimes they plunge into the sewer splashing up yellowish water. The view is getting blurred by this virtual sieve of feces. At the turns homeless people take shelter. Their skin is black with dirt. They are ragged and filthy. Some of them roast rats at camp-fire. The sewer is beset on both sides with piles of rubbish. Skeleton-like people crawl out from their bungalows staring into the void. They team up at the light and drink unidentifiable liquids from huge cans while smoking on butts. Then suddenly light shines all around. The drop is washed into the ocean at the end of the sewer system.

The current sucks in the drop and sweeps it out. Whales and dolphins appear. Freighters cross the sight. The drop gets stuck on the back of giant turtle. They cross the ocean together covering thousands of miles. Then they arrive on a small desert island. Nature is untouched. Birds, lizards, mammals and insects make up the spectrum of life. The drop is taken up on a rock and presents the time in the wilderness throughout some days. At one night a storm gathers. Ten yard waves are crushing the shore. Then suddenly the scream of a horn can be heard in the night. A huge tanker is stranded and tipped to the side. From its severed belly oil is pouring into the sea. Slowly oil covers up the shore. Birds and fishes are struggling for survival. They are all getting bound by the black mass and slowly suffocate. The shore gets crowded with dead animals. The drop is watching the agony from the rock. A sea-gull lands on the rock and takes the drop in its beak. It takes off and carries the drop high up in the air. Oil stains the landscape. Small rescue ships spread white foam on the water to put a halt to pollution, but everything is useless by now.

The sea-gull takes rest on a bleak hillside. An eagle comes along and swoops down on the tired gull. It takes its prey in its claws and lifts it up to its nest to feed it to the young. From the beak of the eagle the drop falls down to the abyss and splashes on a rock in a glen. Rain begins to fall and washes the drop away.

The drop returns to the small stream where it began its journey.

The man is watching the image on the screen. He lifts the drop up to his face and looks into the camera. “You have finished your journey and showed us what has become of the world. Your task is complete.” he says and turns the camera off.


Andras Szirtes:



"Once a Chinese painter painted a wonderful landscape ... . As he made a good go of it, the painting was so drown to life, that he couldn’t keep going on, walking into the picture. And so he disappeared in it ...."

This story has been bothering me for about twenty years.

Surely I do not want to disappear in a self-done picture, as the whole story stands here as a symbol, but I really want to paint such lifelike landscapes and portraits, which practice such a deep impression to the audience, that they inevitably feel the desire to be dissolved in it. Candidly speaking, I want them totally identify themselves with the picture.
I want to catch 2 time layers in my planned experimental film. Therefore I think the silent film execution is more appropriate for realising my imagination.
The first time layer is the time of exposure.

I apply long, more seconds, even more minutes of exposure with my 100 years old, wooden frame camera when recording a landscape or a face/portrait.
I use only one sheet film for one recording.

After that it will be transformed to the enlarged and painted landscape or portrait.

Only a series of slipping moments can be recorded to a sheet film and for me it is not enough. I would like to record the progress of events of the picture with a motion-picture camera too, parallel with the exposure.

This is the second layer, the real-time layer of time.

It is in fact exactly this comparison of photo and film that can make the visual meaning complex.

Which value will be added to the just-being recorded photo-painting by the motion-picture?

In case of landscapes the added value is the motions caused by the wind, for example the vibrations of the leaves, the clouds which slip away, or the changes of the light during the exposure, which repaint - the otherwise unmoving picture again and again.

In case of portraits it is the shades of changes, the so-called micro-physiognomical changes on the faces. In this case the psychical impact of the filmdirector is not of minor importance. During the co-operation with the subjects my intention is bringing their inside world from the deep bundle of their personality out to the surface, manifesting all the content on their faces : glances, behaviour, gestures. This situation is primaly preceded by a relaxation process. My goal is getting my subject to a relaxed status and to put down their everyday problems, the troubles of existence, the noise of the running life ... . They get to a status of being able to sit relatively motionless during the long, more minutes of the duration of exposure. I can apply of course - as support - the well tried and tested arm-, head and legrests, but based on my experience, my clients are fitted for eyeing purified into the lens of the camera by their deep peace of mind.
The same composition will be chosen for recording the landscape or the face with a filmcamera of 35 mm (with the help of a semi-transmitting mirror). The film camera will start recording at the beginning of the exposure and stop at its end. The long exposure will be recorded on film, simultaneously. In the other case (the flat photo-painting) the result is only one timeless picture.

When the paintings are ready and the film is developed, I will put the picture and the film belonging to the picture together.

I reproduce the painting with the first shot on a tricktable, after that the film will be realed off, and the picture will reproduced on the last shot again.

A theme, concluded units, will be established in a mosaic-like structure ... .

Landscapes, which are getting revived with help of the film, and stiffed again into the timeless painting.

Motionless faces, glances are looking at us from the pictures, later they transform to paintings again, their eternal glance overstaying through the camera.

While they are tiny microcosms, all the units are independent completeness and totality, they are unique and cannot be grasped as the same. These short units of 40-60 seconds became visible with the help of the projection again and again.

I have prepared myself to make this experiment since 1989 and I made some photo-paintings in the last years. Actually, a lot of negatives which have been taken in the last 30 years were digged out from the drawer and a papercopy has been made. A selection of the mentioned pictures can be found on my webpage: www.szirtesfilm.hu

At the late 60’s the first computer was constructed, which was able to calculate all the possible options of a motion before and after the moment of taking a photo, and it was virtually shown to us. It has visualised the past and the future of the moment of taking photographs.

My intention is to do the same, but by using a 100 years old technology.

Additionally, my film- and photo infrastructure has been developed and all the necessary requisits will be secured by my company: the wooden frame photo machine, the 35 mm camera and the trictable produced by Crass.

Budapest, September 2006

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4K Kisérleti kuratórium

Szirtes András: FOTÓTERÁPIA

...egyszer egy kínai festő megfestett egy gyönyörű tájképet. Annyira jól sikerült neki, olyan élethű volt a festmény, hogy a festő nem bírta megállni és belement, belesétált a képbe.El is tűnt benne...

Lassan húsz éve foglalkoztat ez a történet.
No nem akarok eltűnni a magam alkotta képben, hisz az egész mese szimbolikus, mégis szeretnék olyan élethű tájképeket és portrékat festeni, amik annyira hatnak a nézőkre, hogy amikor megtekintik, óhatatlan vágyat éreznek, hogy „eltűnjenek benne", magyarán teljesen azonosuljanak vele.

Tervezett kísérleti filmemben két időkomponenst kívánok megragadni s erre legalkalmasabbnak éppen a némafilm technika tűnik.
Az egyik időkomponens az expozíciós idő.
Régi favázas fényképezőgépemmel, hosszú, több másodperces, sőt olykor több perces expozíciót alkalmazok egy-egy táj, vagy arc rögzítésére.
Ez az idő egyetlenegy síkfilmen kerül rögzítésre.
Ebből lesz aztán a lenagyított, megfestett tájkép, portré.

Az elillanó pillanatok sora rögzülhet pusztán egy síkfilmre, ez azonban nekem kevés. Szeretném az expozíció ideje alatt a képben történő „eseményeket" filmkamerával is rögzíteni.
Ez a másik, valós időkomponens.

Épp a fotó- és filmfelvétel összevetése teheti komplexé vizuálisan a kétféle anyag jelentését.
Mert mit ad hozzá az éppen exponálódó fotófestményhez a film, a mozgókép felvétel?

Tájképek esetén a szél által okozott mozgásokat, mint például a falevelek rezdülésit, az elillanó felhőket, illetve az expozíciós időben zajló fény változásait, melyek át-átfestik az amúgy mozdulatlan képet.

A portréknál az élő arc árnyalatnyi, úgynevezett mikrofiziognómiai változásait. De itt nem mellékes az a pszichikai, rendezői ráhatás, ahogy előhívom az alany személyisége legmélyebb bugyraiból belső világát, méghozzá oly módon, hogy az kiütközzék arcán, tekintetén, viselkedésén, gesztusain. Ezt elsősorban egy relaxációs folyamattal érem el. Célom, hogy az alany eljusson egy olyan ellazult állapotig, hogy ki tudja kapcsolni napi gondjait, exisztenciális problémáit, a rohanó élet „zaját". Ekkor jut el gyakorlatilag arra az állapotra, hogy képes legyen viszonylag mozdulatlanul lenni a hosszú, több másodperces expozíció ideje alatt. Segítő eszközként persze a már oly jól bevált kar-, könyök-, láb- és fejtámaszokat alkalmazhatom, de reményeim szerint inkább a lelki nyugalom teszi alkalmassá klienseimet arra hogy „megtisztultan" tekintsenek a kamera és a fényképezőgép lencséjébe.

Ugyanazt a kompozíciót, amit a favázas fényképezőgéppel beállítok, (egy féligáteresztő tükör segítségével) megteszem 35 mm-es filmkamerámmal is. És az expozíció kezdetekor – légyen az egy tájkép, avagy portré – elindítom a filmkamerát egészen az exponálási idő végéig. Így rögzítem azt az hosszú expozíciós időt filmszalagon, ami a fotó-festményen mindössze egyetlenegy „időtlen" képpé rögzül.

S amikor elkészülnek a festmények és előhívódnak a filmtekercsek, akkor nincs más dolgom, minthogy összeteszem a képeket a hozzájuk tartozó filmtekercsekkel.
Trükkasztalon a festményt összekopírozom a kiinduló filmkockával, majd lepereg a filmszalag, melynek utolsó kockájára újra rákopírozódik a festmény.

Így mozaikszerű szerkezetben tételek, lezárt egységek jönnek létre.
Tájképek melyek mikromozgásaikkal megelevenednek a filmtechnika által, majd visszamerevednek az időtlen festménnyé.
Mozdulatlan arcok, tekintetek néznek ránk a festményről és aztán életre kelnek, megrezdülnek, lélegeznek, pislantanak, megfeszülnek s elernyednek, majd újra festménnyé válnak megint, örök tekintetüket vésve a kamerába.

Apró mikrokozmoszok ezek, mindegyik tétel önálló teljesség és totalitás, mégis egyedi és megfoghatatlan. A vetítésben válnak újra és újra megtekinthetővé ezek az apró negyven-hatvan másodperces tételek.

Erre a kísérletemre már 1989 óta készülök. Az utóbbi évben jónéhány fotófestményt készítettem, sőt előhalásztam az elmúlt harminc évben exponált negatívjaimat is, melyekről végre papírképeket készítettem. Egy válogatást feltettem honlapomra is www.szirtesfilm.hu melyet szíves figyelmükbe ajánlok.

Eddigi portréfotózásaimkor még nem volt módom, hogy filmtekercsre is rögzítsem a fotózás expozíciós ideje alatt „történő" eseményeket. Most lenne itt ennek az ideje.

Úgy a hatvanas évek végén komjutertudósok készítették el az első olyan számítógépet, amelybe betápláltak egy régi fényképet és a számítógép kikalkulálta a fényképezés pillanata elötti és utáni lehetséges összes mozgásvariációt, majd ezt viruálisan bemutatta. Megjelenítette tehát a fényképezés pillanatának múltját és jövőjét.

Én ezt szeretném a régi százéves technikákkal valóságban megtenni.
Ráadásul film és fotótechnikám kibővült, így a leendő terv megvalósításához cégem biztosítani tudja az összes technikai feltételt: a favázas fényképez_gépet, a 35 mm-es filmkamerát, az újonnan beszerzett Crass trükkasztalt.

Bár az önmagában vizuális megfogalmazás direkten nem kapcsolható Bartók Bélához, mégis szerkezetét, hangütését tekintve nagyon is rokon a zeneszerző Mikrokozmosz című művével.
Az említett mű egy zongoradarabokból álló sorozat, ami kisiskolásoknak készült.Az egyszerűtől a bonyolult felé halad, s bár a tételek hossza nagyjából azonos, egyre bonyolultabb feladatok elé állítja a tanulót.

Az én Fototerápia etüdsorozatom is ilyen módon épülne fel a vizualitás eszközeivel.

Vizuális rokonság egy auditív anyaggal. Ezért is ajánlom filmemet Bartók Béla születésének 125-ik évfordulójára.

Várom válaszukat tisztelettel:

2006. április. 20.

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"Wandering Cinema"
by András Szirtes
It is the eighties in Eastern Europe, more specifically, Budapest, when the suffocating grip of post-Communist societies begins to loosen...

The childishly naïve, yet resourceful filmmaker, Áron, is caught while filming at a train station, considered a military site. Although the secret servicemen can only see birds in flight against the winter landscape on the confiscated and hastily processed film, even his Father, with his influential political connections, cannot smooth over the consequences. It is in vain that Áron explains that he wasn’t spying, but – taking advantage of the police investigation routine – simply wanted to develop his film for free. His Father announces that it’s time to go; he cannot stay in the country. True, it is not Siberia, but directly to America on a grant.

Áron is not in the least distressed; on the contrary: he feels that in the land of the free, his career as a filmmaker can be consummated, and perhaps the distance can even bring a turn for the better to his deteriorating relationship with his wife, Nóra.

Disappointment soon befalls the filmmaker inflated with hopes, as it becomes apparent that America is not interested in him, nor in his Eastern European archive and family reels. Tom Lantos, who gave him his scholarship to New York, easily brushes him off, while with just a bit of friendly flirting, he entices a Chinese girl selling ice cream into the little art cinema where his scholarship has placed him.

The girl likes the projection about Áron’s Grandfather, made into a larger-than-life experience with its spoken narration and accompanying music on the gramophone. But even she slips away when at the dinner given in his honor, Áron takes out his Mother’s yellowed photographs from Auschwitz and expounds her history.

The filmmaker is not exactly received with effusive enthusiasm at his accommodation either: without delay, on his first day, a junkie attacks him, hoping for money, while a taxi driver, upon hearing his address, proposes him a gun for sale…

For lack of anything better, Áron films, and thus wanders into the Orthodox Jewish quarter. The boy who has been raised in a Communist, atheist atmosphere, encounters his own roots and religious traditions for the first time.

Áron, who is oppressed by his isolation, decides to emerge from the ivory tower. He obtains a tricycle and, as a piece of technical invention, he fastens a projector with hand-crank to the front. He will have a "wandering cinema", turning the pedals, turning the crank, and he projects anywhere he can or is able: in bars, empty lots, onto the backs of trucks stuck in traffic…

The neighborhood begins to accept and even warm to his eccentric character and strange little film etudes, which he makes employing the poetry of the golden age of cinema about the most banal scenes of daily life. He is just on his way home from one of these screenings, when it begins to rain and he quickly ducks into a little bar.

It is here that he meets Niki, the self-confident Irish barmaid, and this brings a turning point both in his private life and in the development of his career. Following their wild encounter, Áron falls in love with the girl, who, it turns out, is the daughter of one of America’s most famous sculptors, and she is also studying to be a sculptor. Niki introduces him to her artist friends in the West Village, she organizes screenings for him, and she drags him with her from one party to the next, like some sort of exotic art object. Niki is moved by Áron’s inhibited, attentive, romantically imaginative nature, while Áron is fascinated – and also frightened – by the girl’s emancipation and uninhibitedness.

Just when their love is in full bloom, Áron gets a telephone call from Nóra, who announces that she will soon arrive. Áron, incapable of saying "no", and equally unable to end his affair, helplessly awaits his wife’s arrival.

Nóra arrives, and at the first suspicious phone call, her women’s intuition clues her in to the fact that Áron has a lover. She announces that she is pregnant, and she threatens Áron that she will finish herself off if he leaves her.

Áron seemingly resigns himself to her blackmail, but the first thing he does the following day is to look for Niki. It turns out that Nóra beat him to it: she already spoke with Niki secretly, and the two women came to an agreement – Nóra will shut her eyes to their relationship, if Áron provides his paternal duties. She stipulates just a single condition: that until the child is born, Áron will stay with her alone. Áron is furious, and feels like he is treated as a pawn.

At the vernissage of her first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Niki screens Áron’s film – with its own particular brand of American entertainment. After a long time, they finally meet again. Niki doesn’t understand Áron’s bad humor, as she intended the film to be a pleasant surprise, as well as a gesture with which to pave the way for Áron’s career. Áron, however, feels that it is precisely the point – the essence – the human presence – that was left out of this sensationalist American production.

At the party following her opening, Niki introduces Áron to her Mother, Jane, who is an influential personality and famous actress. Niki, being a self-confident, self-made woman, would never take advantage of her Mother’s connections in her own interest – as she disdains her, but for Áron, she asks for her help. Jane does not believe in Áron, but to please her daughter, she promises to arrange that Tom Lantos, for his next political campaign, will employ the boy as a cameraman. This is a real opportunity for advancement for the unknown, young Eastern European filmmaker.

The presentation occurs in connection with the gathering of an exclusive company of dissident Hungarians, where Áron is going to make his screening. The patron is naturally Tom Lantos. Nóra, who does not feel well, does not attend, but she does not want to allow Áron to go either.

Áron, nevertheless, sets out on his tricycle. On his way, he gets mixed up in a small skirmish with American Indians drunk on hair tonic, and he thus falls into the party in a roughed-up condition. But it is the screening itself that provokes greater consternation among the decent dissidents: Áron projects documentation of his own youth, in which in his own particular approach, Russian troops occupy his country. In the film he shot as an adolescent, the hungry Russian soldiers provided the boys with all sorts of good things, like rubber boats, drills and cameras, in exchange for the services of the gypsy girls brought there.

Those assembled suddenly pronounce that Áron has made a joke out of the reason they have left their country. Tom Lantos, on the other hand, likes the boy, and appreciates his originality, openness and courage. They have just begun to turn to their debate on the political campaign, when Áron is suddenly called to the telephone: a woman’s voice is calling from the hospital, and she informs him that his wife has prematurely given birth to their child, and her condition is critical.

Áron immediately rushes to the hospital, where they tell him that the premature little girl, Lili, has died upon her birth. Áron, in a daze, waits for his wife to awaken, but she is only able to stammer when she regains consciousness, that she never wants to see him again.

Áron, despondent, remains alone, helplessly pressed between the wheels of hospital administration. He is just about to sign the papers giving permission for cremation, when something breaks inside of him: he insists on seeing his daughter. No one understands what it is that he wants. Finally, with artifice, he manages to gain access to the prosector, where Lili’s tiny body is prepared for the following day’s autopsy.

Áron, in a stupor, roams around New York, aglow in its Christmas fever, and in the falling snow, he notices a rabbi. He follows him to a synagogue, and during the ceremony, for a short time, he stays out in time and space. He finally implores the rabbi to bury his daughter. The rabbi feels the honored nature of the moment, and doing without the strict formalities, he consents.

The following day at dawn, Áron, dressed as a hospital worker, sneaks into the morgue, and pressing a toy pistol into the back of the surprised dissector, he demands that he hand over the small body. Áron places the little girl into a tiny coffin that he has prepared, and deluding the guards, he smuggles her out. The funeral takes place in the garden of the synagogue, where only Áron and the mourning men are present.

After Nóra’s return home, Áron closes up his apartment, and together with his tricycle, he moves out to the seaside. He doesn’t want to meet anyone, and the whole day he roams the coast alone. He meets Natasha, the little Russian girl selling costume jewelry, and a mutual attraction awakens within them.

Niki searches for him in vain, trying to win him back. Áron has distanced himself once and for all from the world that she offers him. He rather builds a seashell-hovel with Natasha, and watches the planes taking off and landing over Coney Island.

Once, they observe a strange phenomenon: a dirigible descends not far from them on the sand. The passengers of the balloon, men and women dressed in clothing from the turn of the century, celebrate with champagne the newest station on their trip around the Earth. Áron and Natasha strike up conversation with them, and it turns out that they are Russian. Finally, they invite the two homeless to come with them, and they set out to search in the distance for their true home.
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