body and soul

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German title body and soul
Original title Testről és lélekről
Country of production Hungary
original language Hungarian
Publishing year 2017
length 116 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Ildikó Enyedi
script Ildikó Enyedi
production Monika Mécs ,
András Muhi ,
Ernő Mesterházy
music Ádám Balázs
camera Máté Herbai
cut Károly Szalai

Body and soul (Original title: Testről és lélekről , English-language festival title: On Body and Soul ) is a Hungarian feature film by Ildikó Enyedi from the year 2017 . The soberly narrated melodrama , for which Enyedi also wrote the screenplay, takes place in a slaughterhouse and is about two outsiders who discover an extraordinary kind of soulmate - they meet each other in their dreams.

After decades of setbacks, Enyedi celebrated a much-noticed international comeback with body and soul . The award of the Golden Bear at the 2017 Berlinale was followed by a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards and the 2017 European Film Prize for Best Actress , which Alexandra Borbély was awarded for her portrait of an autistic young woman.


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The two main actors Alexandra Borbély and Géza Morcsányi at the Berlinale 2017

A new quality controller, Mária, is hired in a Budapest slaughterhouse. It is your responsibility to classify the meat of the cattle that have been killed. The fact that they classify many things as B-goods that the workforce regards as first-class arouses their displeasure. The news of this reaches the finance director Endre, a somewhat older man with a physical handicap: his left arm is paralyzed, his left hand is crippled. Endre, who had been isolating himself in his office for years, had already noticed the extremely shy, pale young woman. When he confronts her, she tells him that the meat contained "an average of two to three millimeters" more fat than the norm requires.

A curious criminal case calls the police on the scene. With a 50-year high school reunion there had been an orgy - by a stolen from their slaughterhouse and secretly administered Potency for cattle bulls. On the recommendation of the investigators, the employees undergo a survey by a psychologist. Using a standardized questionnaire, she explores their sexual behavior. When she asked Mária what she had dreamed of the night before, she heard a story from her that was exactly like Endre's. In it the two meet, as a stag and a hind, in a snow-covered forest by a stream; only their noses would have touched when they were looking for food, they would not have mated . Annoyed, the psychologist orders both of them again together and accuses them of having agreed. They reject that.

Apparently they are telling the truth. At the same time, however, their curiosity is aroused. Do their common dreams repeat themselves? To make sure no one is cheating, write them down separately one morning - they match again. After Mária has bought a cell phone, they call each other in the evening to go to bed at the same time. The attempt to fall asleep lying next to each other in a room fails, however. Endre manages to get Mária to stay and teaches her to play cards. In poker from her defeated, he wants to know exactly why what they stunned him with her phenomenal memory; she can also remember all of his sentences, she claims, gives a few samples and asks if he would like to hear them all ; He refuses and wants to put his hand on her arm soothingly, when she jerks back violently and freezes.

In the days that followed, they evade each other. Endre falls into his old routine, hides himself back in his single apartment and has a one-night stand with a former lover. For her part, Mária does everything to get rid of her handicaps: her fear of being touched and her complete inexperience in physical love. She visits her childhood therapist again, spends half a day looking for a CD of love music, watches porn , eyes couples in a park, puts her hands on live cattle and goes to bed with a stuffed animal ... Als believing she is ready for the desired intimacy with Endre, she asks him at the counter if she can spend the night with him. He refuses and declares their relationship over. Mária doesn’t show the shock.

In the evening, lying in the bathtub, she cuts a wrist artery. When her cell phone rings minutes later, she jumps up - only Endre knows her number. After a few embarrassing phrases and pauses, which testify to his complete ignorance (“What are you doing beautiful?”), The conversation seems to dry up until suddenly it breaks out of him that he is “dying” because he loves her so much. With the same determination she returned his confession of love. All she has to do is “do something” before she can see him. She skillfully puts on a hemostatic bandage, has it professionally renewed in a hospital, steals away and rushes to Endre. She can now get involved in the act of love with him. Both fall asleep exhausted. At breakfast together in a relaxed atmosphere, Mária laughs freely for the first time. “What did we dream last night?” Asks Endre. Nothing, both realize with surprise.


Mária and Endre are both loners and lonely in different ways. Both are also "disabled". Endre's handicap is clearly defined and recognizable: his paralyzed left arm. When and how it came about remains open; it is clear that it restricts him, but it does not isolate him; he is professionally successful and respected, is the father (of a daughter who has long since grown up) and has had numerous loves; there is nothing to suggest a causal connection between his handicap and his withdrawal into solitude. It was his weary spirit, disappointed with life, that made this decision years ago; Body and soul, however, timidly defend themselves.

Mária's “handicap” is of a different nature. It is more comprehensive and unspecific - and therefore less recognizable as such to others. She has Asperger's Syndrome , a form of autism . At best, their behavior is perceived as “different”, but usually as haughty and unapproachable; in the slaughterhouse she is called "Frau Doktor" or " Snow Queen ". Mária notices everything and remembers everything, seems stiff and unemotional and seems incapable of lying, which one expects of her in one or the other situation, such as when assessing the quality of meat, as a matter of course. The resulting social exclusion doesn't seem to bother them, but disorder very much.

For them love also means disorder. That's probably why she hasn't played a role in her life yet. Compared to Endre, this means: “She has not even started with what he thinks he has already done.” Apparently, neither her mind nor her body have longed for love by then. Only her soul now signals her need for togetherness, in the form of dreams, the meaning of which she understandably only believes when she learns that someone else dreams her too. She clings to this belief more strongly than Endre. That seems necessary, because she needs far more courage than he does to leave the snail shell of her loneliness.

Title and subject

"Two souls that live in bodies that are still alien to each other touch each other", Katja Nicodemus paraphrases the film title, and continues: "Enyedi tells the shocking aspect of this contact with the depth of a philosopher and the obstinacy of the artist." Don't let them lead you into the “ esoteric astray”, she says and is impressed by the nuances the two main actors, Alexandra Borbély and Géza Morcsányi, gain from the awareness of their love: “It's wonderful how the two are surprised, amazed, overwhelmed by one A dialogue of sensations that they have long had without knowing about it. "

“Of course, love in a comprehensive sense also includes respect for the creature,” concludes Nicodemus, thus drawing attention back to the beginning of the film. Even before the camera moves a human face into the picture, it catches the gaze of animals: first that of the two deer in the quiet winter forest, then that of a cow that is penned up with her fellow animals and awaiting death. "The dignified handling of the camera with a cow can mean looking her straight in the eye at a certain moment in her life, which is soon to end."


The animal world that dominates at the beginning of the film is stylistically staged in almost opposite ways. On the one hand there are two wild animals, male and female, who are relaxed in the open space of their natural environment - on the other, a mass of domesticated animals that, squeezed into a metal gate, have to persevere in their dirt in a very small space: Purity contrasts with dirt, Attractive with repulsive, poetry with naturalism , fairy-tale with documentary . The seemingly surreal shots with the deer (which the viewer initially does not know are dream images) were shot in a “very realistic forest with very realistic animals”, the scenes with the cattle in a real slaughterhouse where Enyedi stayed with her team for a week.

Apart from the "fantastic claim" that two people dream the same thing several times, everything that happens in the film is largely realistic. But here, too, a stylistic contrast catches the eye: the “ melancholy tone” of the story pervades “soft comedy ”. On the one hand, it comes into play in numerous miniature scenes with secondary characters; so it is precisely the cleaning lady who teaches Mária how to improve her feminine appearance. The protagonists themselves also contribute to this: Endre with his laconic wit, Mária with unwanted comedy, which she regularly subverts by the fact that, as an autistic woman, she does not feel what “is proper”, and so repeatedly makes faux pas - but missteps that are always presented in such a way that their fellow human beings may mock it , but not a viewer with a minimum of empathy .


In 1989, Enyedi entered the international limelight in Cannes - and won the Golden Camera for best debut film with My 20th Century . Body and soul have a lot in common with their debut, including the essayistic- sounding title and a similar, albeit contradicting plot : here two people who come together in a wonderful way, there two twin sisters who are mysteriously separated. The works that Enyedi created between these two successful films are hardly known outside of her Hungarian homeland. The director herself describes her nearly three decades of dry spell as a "bitter time". Bert Rebhandl finds it all the more astonishing how confidently she has returned to the world of cinema with body and soul .


The "love music" that Mária buys in the music store on the recommendation of the saleswoman and which she later uses in her suicide attempt is the song What He Wrote from the 2010 album I Speak Because I Can by the British singer Laura Marling .


After the Berlinale premiere, body and soul were received as mixed by the international specialist critics and not traded as one of the favorites for the main prize. The film cut in international criticism mirrors the British trade magazine Screen International from all competition films together with Colo of Teresa Villaverde and Félicité by Alain Gomis at the seventh best from (each 2.7 stars out of four possible), while the other side of the hope of Aki Kaurismäki the rankings with 3.7 stars. Katja Nicodemus ( Die Zeit ) was one of the positive Berlinale press votes, praising Enyedi's directorial work as one of the festival's most impressive films and describing it as a wonderful “film structure”. Body and soul is one of many competition entries "to demonstrate the fundamental inability of language". The film shows the “discrepancy between longing and its expression”. Nicodemus called the two lovers autistic in their behavior . The film is ultimately "about the cinema itself: about sensations, longings, fantasies that are locked in bodies and can only see the light of day through images".

The German-language feuilleton review that accompanied the cinema release of Body and Soul in autumn 2017 did not stop at the statement that the film "clearly got the Golden Bear ". Christina Tilmann ( Neue Zürcher Zeitung ) saw it as the “most unusual film of the year”; he tells a love story, "as one has never seen it and will never be forgotten again". Katja Nicodemus and Martina Knoben ( Süddeutsche Zeitung ) made almost identical comments . Also because Enyedi shows "animals as acting and feeling subjects", Knoben continues, the slaughterhouse appears to be "an unexpectedly suitable setting for the love story of vulnerable people". Last but not least, the director also used the opportunity to stage small social studies "as if on the side" at this location, in which she observes people, how they "manage their everyday lives, how they make small talk, in the canteen or while drinking coffee, fraternize each other while excluding others ”.

After the first screenings in Hungary, Enyedi stated that parents of autistic children had thanked her for the film because it showed Mária how they saw their children themselves: “First of all as wonderful human beings who also happened to have Asperger's -Wearing a syndrome , i.e. being autistic, ”says the director.


Ildikó Enyedi with the Berlinale prize trophy for body and soul

Teaching material

Web links

Commons : On Body and Soul  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for body and soul . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (PDF; test number: 170457 / K). Template: FSK / maintenance / type not set and Par. 1 longer than 4 characters
  2. a b The salvation of humanity. In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 21, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  3. a b c d e f g Martina Knoben: One of the most beautiful love stories in a long time. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , September 20, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  4. People lack patience. n-tv , September 20, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  5. a b c d e Katja Nicodemus : The way of all flesh. In: Die Zeit , September 20, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  6. The little, weird moments. Deutschlandfunk Kultur , February 18, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  7. Bert Rebhandl : We dream each other into life. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , September 20, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  8. Grater, Tom: Berlin: 'The Other Side Of Hope' tops Screen's final jury grid . In: Screen Daily , February 20, 2017 (accessed September 24, 2017).
  9. ^ Nicodemus, Katja: The festival of silent films . In: Die Zeit , February 16, 2017, No. 8, p. 46.
  10. Elmar Krekeler: Love in the times of the nail gun. In: Die Welt , September 21, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  11. Christina Tilmann: From people, animals and lost souls In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , December 6, 2017, accessed on March 1, 2020.
  12. Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk : 'Body and Soul': a strangely beautiful love story ( memento of the original from September 24, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Video). In: , September 16, 2017, 1:38 min ff. (Accessed on September 24, 2017).