Cinematic aesthetic condition and philosophical thinking

From “Gentle” by Laszlo Tsuga: Immerse yourself in the terms, behavior and details (press file)

The closeness and overlapping of two Hungarian films, the documentary “The Beauty of the Beast” (2022) and the novelist “Gentle” (2022), warns of the extent of the intertwining of visual expressive systems and their openness to cinematic experiences that mix the real with the imaginary and immerse real “heroes” in “acting” adventures. And at the same time, it makes the representation a reality, with great attention to the aesthetic state being present, and even – and this was achieved in two films – made it a catalyst for achieving an extraordinary cinematic achievement in its uniqueness and approach to aesthetic concepts, such as the search for physical perfection, and reaching the highest levels.

What is rare in the collection was achieved in those who succeeded, with extraordinary degrees of convergence. Documentary director (Beauty of the Beast) Anna Nimes (1989), co-director with colleague Laszlo Tsuga (1984), novelist (Gentle). They are engaged in one sport activity: female bodybuilding. The entanglement is reinforced by the knowledge that the novelist’s heroine, the actress Esther Tsonka, is actually a famous heroine in the game, and she appears as the main character in the documentary. Technically, the same photographer, Zagon Nagy, is in charge of managing the shooting of the two films.

In determining the genre, the novelist does not agree to describe it as a “remake” of the documentary, because the idea of ​​the latter stems, basically, from a photographic exhibition project dedicated to bodybuilding champions in Hungary, on which Anna Nimes, who is originally a photographer, worked on it. While the novelist comes in the context of joint film writing between his two directors, and in a work that goes beyond the reality of a mathematical game to the level of research, in a dramatic way, in a philosophical and aesthetic idea, the concept of physical perfection.

The creators of the novel surround their heroine Idia in a dramatic frame, following the development of her relationship with the people close to her, the first of which is her partner at home, and her coach Adam (Giorgi Taurus) who imposes difficult conditions on her, not shying away from his obligation, if she really wants to become the world champion in body perfection competitions for women. . Throughout the film, the heroine submits to him. She hides from him because of her fear and appetite for sweets that are forbidden to eat. She does not mind taking nutritional supplements and hormonal stimulants, which inflate the muscles of her body, which is close in composition to the body of a man playing the same game.

A man’s transformation into a muscular mountain causes astonishment, but in a woman’s case it becomes a cause of disgust and revulsion. This is evidenced by the experiences of female bodybuilders who participated in the documentary. The expressed disgust at their appearance is described with precision, which the novelist does not come close to, because he decided to confine himself to a private relationship between a man/trainer and a woman. A man treats her as a tool that performs a specific function, without feelings. And when he is unable to secure the price of nutritional supplements, he does not hesitate to encourage her to accept the role of “companion” for men, who are looking for someone who will fulfill their deep-seated desires to see a woman in dilemma, who has all the characteristics of physical strength that they they don’t have. Her acceptance of the humiliating role is painful, but it corresponds to her submissiveness to the will, with which she wants to achieve a goal that in the eyes of others does not make much sense.

The cool attitude of female bodybuilders, followed by action, challenges and explicitly opposes lifestyles that have established male supremacy, as indicated by the testimonies of former female champions who participated in the documentary: Esther Nimit, Lefty Bala, Nomi Sabo and Esther Tsonka, the “Gentle” heroine, shown in under the heading “Gentle”. Horizons”, at the 56th session (July 1-9, 2022) of the “Karlovy Vary International Film Festival”. Four women entered the experience in search of greater personal meaning, knowing the heavy price they must pay, both psychologically and physically.

That challenge does not exist with a novelist. Aidia, accepting her trainer’s instructions, accepts her transformation into a body model, for men who treat her as their saleswoman, nothing more. The only dramatic shift in this context comes when she meets a man who, during their encounters, begged her to play with him as a child. She loved him, forgot all her troubles with the trainer and his cruelty. She believed that his presence filled her emotional deficiency. The emotional emptiness and feeling of her bitterness reach the viewer through the honest revelations and inner monologues of the participants in the documentary. Sadness dominates their tone, as soon as the speech reaches a point that requires the disclosure of desires, the desire to be treated by others as normal women and not as mountains of deformed muscles, or as one of them says: “With this physical creation, I have become more like a frog.”

The search for togetherness contradicts the demands of the sport, whose essence is a deviation from the standards of female existence, and puts Idia in a spiral of anxiety that widens as she gets closer to the man she loves. The end of her romantic dream, conveyed through beautiful fantasy scenes, occurs when a man drives her out of his house, which she has secretly entered, and she finds him with his family living a different life than the one he spends hours with her. His expulsion from her destroyed what was left of her life and made it easier for her to accept the idea of ​​her death, taking more nutritional supplements and hormones that cause physical damage.

The scene of her appearance in her father’s house, while hugging the pig that was shot before the slaughter, corresponds with her despair, and is close to the possibility of her death. In “Beauty of the Beast”, a former player appears among the participants who talks about another child’s experience, which is contrary to the game’s requirements. Participation in international competitions no longer means anything to her, and in return she sees herself as a mother for the second time.

In the two films, the uncertainty of the outcome of the sporting adventure is manifested and reflects the concern about a challenge that is too much for their nerves and body, despite all its hardness. Conveying the state of anxiety and uncertainty about the feasibility of the experiment is embodied in a film work remarkable for its renewal and search for modern visual expressions. This stems from the photographic work of Anna Nimes, whose visual sense is reflected in her documentaries, consisting mostly of his narration from close-ups of faces, which she moves, in combination, quickly, thereby weakening the viewer’s focus on variables. which appear in them as a consequence of wearing weights, in her desire to intertwine them with the internal monologues of her heroines who want to open up to those who treat them as queer women about the aesthetic norms of the female body.

In the deep meaning of the two texts there is an explicit desire to present a different female scene, which strongly contradicts the traditional concepts of the relationship between a woman and her body, and between her body and her freedom, which appeal to real social integration. , not imaginary perfection.

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