IN HUNGARY DURING WORLD WAR II
TO SURVIVE IS EVERYTHING
A FILM BY JANOS SZASZ
Based on the best-selling internationally acclaimed novel by Agota Kristof
Towards the end of World War II, people in big cities are at the mercy of air raids and death by starvation. A desperate young mother leaves her 13‐year‐old twin sons at their grandmother’s house in the country, despite the fact that this grandmother is a cruel and bestial alcoholic. The villagers call her “the Witch” because she is rumored to have poisoned her husband long ago. Previously pampered, the twins must learn how to survive alone in their new, rural surroundings. They realize that the only way to cope with the absurd and inhumane world of adults and war is to become completely unfeeling and merciless.
By learning to free themselves from hunger, pain and emotion, they will be able to endure future hardships. So they begin their own series of studies: they fortify their spirits by reading the Bible and learning foreign languages. They practice every day to harden their bodies and minds. They hold their hands over flames, cut their legs, arms and chests with a knife and pour alcohol right on their wounds. They desensitize themselves to insults and learn to ignore the more insidious appeals of sentiment and love.
The twins keep a written record of all they have witnessed during the war, Le Grand Cahier. When they write, they follow their own strict code: The prose must be free from emotion, the notes precise and objective. Over time they are initiated into the corruptions and horrors of a war‐torn world. They have to listen to a lecherous priest’s hypocritical avowals of faith, they watch soldiers herd refugees to their death and witness the selfish cruelties their neighbors inflict on one another.
As the war ends, the “Liberation” brings the worst moments of all: their village and their few relationships are plagued by rape and suicide. Their mother returns for a brief, gruesome reunion and their father follows suit in a final tableau involving patricide and opportunism, leading to the twin’s ultimate separation.
THE NOTEBOOK (LE GRAND CAHIER) 2013
UTOLSÓ RAPSZÓDIA 2011
ZOOKIDS - MENTSÜK MEG AZ ÁLLATKERTET! 2011
THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH 2010
A PÁL UTCAI FIÚK 2003
GYPSY LORE 1997
FAUSTUS DOKTOR BOLDOGSÁGOS POKOLJÁRÁSA 1982
Ulrich Thomsen was born in Fyn, Denmark and graduated from the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance in 1993, Afterwards, he performed for several theatres in Copenhagen, such as Dr. Dantes Aveny, Mungo Park and Østre Gasværks Teater.
His film debut was in 1994 in NIGHTWATCH directed by Ole Bornedal. Since then he's had a number of notable roles in films such as Thomas Vinterberg's THE BIGGEST HEROES (1996), Susanne Bier's Sekten (1997) and Anders Thomas Jensen's Flickering Lights (2000). The major breakthrough in his career came in the 1998 film THE CELEBRATION, which was followed by a role in the James Bond film THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999) portraying the part of henchman Sasha Davidov. This established Thomsen as an international actor, famous outside his native Denmark. He also played a part in the 2002 English film KILLING ME SOFTLY.
SEASON OF THE WITCH 2011
THE SILENCE 2010
THE INTERNATIONAL 2009
LULU AND JIMI 2009
FEAR ME NOT 2008
THE BROKEN 2008
OPIUM: DIARY OF A MADWOMAN 2007
THE ROCKET POST 2006
SERGEANT PEPPER 2004
KILLING ME SOFTLY 2002
MIKE BASSETT: ENGLAND MANAGER 2001
THE ZOOKEEPER 2001
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH 1999
THE CELEBRATION 1998
Ulrich Matthes is one of the actors used in German dubbing for Kenneth Branagh, and the only one used for more than one film. In 2005 he was voted "Actor of the Year" by Theater heute magazine for his performance in Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Ulrich also played a Nazi in DOWNFALL (2004) and a Holocaust victim in THE NINTH DAY (2004).
THE NOTEBOOK (LE GRAND CAHIER) 2013
KUNDUZ: THE INCIDENT AT HADJI GHAFUR 2012
CALM AT SEA 2011
NEUE VAHR SÜD 2010
THE BILL 2008
THE NINTH DAY 2004
THE FAREWELL 2000
AIMÉE & JAGUAR 1999
FIRE RIDER 1998
WINTER SLEEPERS 1997
THE NOTEBOOK is a war film with no war, a story about innocent but cruel children who resist all morals. It is the story of early adolescent, murderous twin boys. Two bodies, one spirit; two bodies, one will. They speak the same way and they finish each other's sentences, always on the same wavelength. One boy thinks of something and the other carries it through. When they kill, it is an act of justice. Two bodies and one soul. - János Szász
János Szász was born in 1958. He is a tutor for the acting master class at the Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, Budapest. His films include WOYZECK, which won the European Film Award for Best New European Film, amongst others, and THE WITMAN BOYS (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 1997). He also won Best Director at the Moscow International Film Festival and a special commendation at the Sundance Festival and by Variety in 1998. His 2007 film OPIUM with Ulrich Thomsen was produced by Andras Hamori.
THE NOTEBOOK (LE GRAND CAHIER) 2011
OPIUM: DIARY OF A MADWOMAN 1983 2007
EYES OF THE HOLOCAUST 2000
THE WITMAN BOYS 1997
DON'T DISTURB! 1990
A LÉDERER-ÜGY 1985
THE NOTEBOOK is world literature, but nevertheless the project was quite demanding. In 2006, when I tried to buy the rights, they had just been sold the day before to Constantin Film. Then, in 2009, as the rights were free again, my favorite director János Szász and I could convince Agota Kristof to assign us the rights. Highly important was the early support by Media Programme, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. With this tremendous book we had no problems convincing a great cast and partners from Hungary, France and Austria to join this challenging project. - Sandor Söth