Close Up

28 May 2023: 25 Fireman's Street


25 Fireman's Street
István Szabó, 1973, 98 min
UK premiere of the new restoration

Introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht

István Szabó's agile camera is an uninvited guest peeking into the private and collective memories of the residents of an apartment building in Budapest that is due to be demolished the next day. In a Cocteauesque quest into the inner life of a house (which also bears trace of early surrealists in its splendid and puzzling juxtapositions) some 50 years is remembered overnight. The breath-taking long takes that have the fluidity of a dream reconstruct the recent history of nation through bricks, windows, walls and wooden panels. Like Jacques Tati's Playtime, architecture is both the starting point and what frames every movement – it's a living organ. But here the building reflects people's desires and traumas more than similar voyeuristic investigations of architecture and film as it even bears the subtitle of a "Dream About a House".

A milestone in film history for its intricate narrative and free-form imagery, 25 Fireman's Street was partly inspired by Szabó's discovery of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood. Each image can be seen as a metaphor of something larger, but perhaps, more rewardingly, as a photographic representation of a poetic probe which, at first, seems impossible to decipher but gradually allows for a pattern of thoughts to emerge in which history and personal memory of Hungarians fully complement each other.” – Ehsan Khoshbakht

Never on Sunday is a series of screenings of rare classics, archive masterpieces, obscure delights and forgotten gems carefully curated and introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht and taking place the last Sunday of each month at Close-Up.