Director: Gyorgy Palfi
If there is a film buff who exits a screening of Final Cut - Ladies and Gentlemen without their cheeks aching from the 90-minute ear-to-ear grin that Gyorgy Palfi’s stunning montage film inspires, they need to hand in their union card. It is inconceivable that a lover of all things cinematic will not find this extraordinary work just about the most fun they’ll have in a theatre over the duration of their love affair with movies.
The director of the far more hard-edged Taxidermia has compiled clips from over 450+ films, from high-profile classics (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Singing in the Rain, Psycho, Dr No, Avatar) to the most niche cult items (Johnny Corncob, 80 Hussars, Bizalom), and melded then into a classic love story narrative. No actor or actress plays the same part twice, yet every one onscreen helps create a vivid, instantly engaging romantic journey that celebrates storytelling and film language in the most unique of ways.
Constructed over three years by the filmmaker, co-writer Zsofia Ruttkay and a team of four editors, the project took shape when the Hungarian film sector collapsed its subsidy scheme and Palfi was left with production dollars but no way to spend them. Ingeniously, he utilised his vast knowledge of film history and love for international cinema and set about constructing his wonderfully playful, very moving and occasionally boldly graphic love story. He refers to it as his ‘recycled film’, obviously referring to his pilfered footage but also a nod to the clichéd but beautiful plotline which, most nobly, honours the notion that ‘cinema is romance’
Given the copyrights nightmare the film represents, it is unlikely to ever see a DVD/Blu-ray release, but there is something perfectly ok with that. Final Cut - Ladies and Gentlemen should be seen in a theatre as a shared experience, recalling the very early days of the artform when crowds would flock to see the latest flickering images. The millions of frames that have made up a century of cinema are honoured here in one of the most exhilarating montage constructs ever produced; it is a suitably grand yet deeply intimate work.