Kino Eye: Sunshine - a film about antisemitism

Submitted by AWL on 10 November, 2020 - 8:01 Author: John Cunningham

There are many films about antisemitism. I am highlighting Sunshine (1999) by Hungarian director István Szabó. The story concerns three generations of the Sonnenscheins, a Budapest Jewish family — from the late 1890s to the collapse of “state socialism” in Hungary in 1990. The Sonnenscheins are assimilated and successful, their prosperity being based on a popular elixir bearing the family name (Sonnenschein translates as “Sunshine”). They change their name to the Hungarian Sors (“fate”) and convert to Christianity; yet antisemitism becomes ever more threatening. Even the second generation Adám, who wins an Olympic medal and becomes a national hero, dies in a camp during World War 2. The film concludes when Iván (third generation) reclaims the family name and embraces the Jewishness his forebears had tried to put behind them.

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