The Curious Female Character in István Szabó’s Sunshine

Zoltán Dragon


Hungarian director István Szabó’s films usually feature the story of a young man on his way to becoming an adult during turbulent times in Hungarian history. Strangely enough, however, these stories are framed both visually and narratively in the presence of some female character—the plots, in fact, derive from the actions and decisions of these females. Zoltán Dragon’s paper charts the underlying narrative and visual design in one of the best-known films made by Szabó, Sunshine, identifying the pattern of visual storytellingwhose anchor point is one specific female figure, Vali, in the background. Vali’s role as a focalizing agency is to frame the predominantly male story and reveal the hidden or silenced content that creates an alternative family story.


classical Hollywood narrative; Sunshine; István Szabó; female characters; performative subjectivity; photography in film

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