MY 20TH CENTURY. (1989) A HUNGARIAN FILM BY ILDIKO ENYEDI. STARRING DOROTA SEGDA, OLEG YANKOVSKIY AND PETER ANDORAI AS THOMAS EDISON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This Hungarian film is a wonderful blend of the real and the fantastical, with America's most prolific inventor Thomas Edison book-ending the film both at the start and at the finish. His marvellous inventions, in particular the invention of electric light and the lightbulb, helped to illuminate the world's transition into the titular twentieth century.
It's not a film about Thomas Edison, however, although the technological advancements made at the time by him and other intrepid inventors certainly helped to birth a century that came into the world naked, bloody and bawling its ass off, just like the rest of us, haha.
The Thomas Edison episode of THE SIMPSONS has always been one of my favourite episodes. Homer, feeling like he's achieved nothing in his life, unlike Thomas Edison, his new idol, frantically starts inventing some of the worst inventions the world has ever known.
These include the Everything's All Right Alarm, which will sound every three seconds unless something's not okay, the make-up gun which apparently was 'set on whore,' the electric hammer and the, ahem, toilet chair.
His line 'Women will like what I tell them to like' in regards to his make-up gun always cracks me up. It's in response to his wife Marge saying: 'Homer, women won't like being shot in the face...!'
Anyway, to the background of the technological marvels that heralded the arrival of the twentieth century, two beautiful twin sisters, Lili and Dora, are born to a young woman in Hungary. Their impoverished childhoods are like a scene straight out of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's short story THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL.
Remember THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL? She died while selling matches on the street in the freezing cold, but not before seeing several visions of wonderful things like hot food, a Christmas tree and her own lovely grandmother, now deceased, who was the only person to ever show her any kindness.
The poor frozen child dies and is taken up to Heaven by her granny. It would take an exceptionally hard-hearted person not to sniffle a bit at such a tragic story. My mascara is in shite order right now just thinking about it again.
While Dora and Lili sleep on the street, bundled up in shawls with their boxes of matches in front of them, they are picked up and spirited away by two toffs in shiny toppers and opera dress who flip a coin to see who gets which twin. When we see the girls again they are grown women. What kind of childhoods did they have? We don't know. But we do know how they have turned out...
Dora is a drifter and a prostitute who lives by her stunning good looks and her sharp wits. She can play any man alive like he's a musical instrument. Her sister Lili, equally beautiful because, after all they are twins played by the same actress (who plays her own mother as well, by the way), is a bookish young feminist and revolutionary who wants to fight for womens' rights and make the world a more equal and fair place. Well, it's a nice dream, I suppose, if a tad unrealistic...!
Z is an attractive, intelligent older man with a sharp beard who somehow meets and becomes intimate with both girls. I'm actually not sure if he even realises that there are two women and not just one. I think that, on at least one occasion, he has sex with one while thinking she's the other. It's a tad confusing for him but he should consider himself lucky to be bedding even one of them as they're both equally gorgeous.
The two different sex scenes he has with the two women clearly show us the differences between both women. If we can see it, surely Z should be able to but, how-and-ever, it doesn't really matter which girl is which. The sex he has with them is what matters.
Z sleeps with Dora, the courtesan, in his cabin on a cruise ship. She is beautifully dressed in ribbons and bows and her corsets need unlacing, as do her boots, and her elaborate get-up takes Z forever to unhook and unfasten, but that just adds to his excitement and her amusement.
Dora laughs all the way through their copulation. She has such a sexy laugh! It's chock-full of joie de vivre or the joy of life. It's good that she still feels like that after presumably having been a prostitute for a while now.
In the end, Z and Dora make love on the cabin floor and Dora skilfully lowers his silk pyjama bottoms with her stockinged feet and her stockings, I must say, are gorgeously patterned. Everything about Dora is feminine, flirty, fluttery, pretty, girly and ravishingly attractive. She's a most desirable package all round.
She's a horny little minx, she loves men (or at least the satisfaction their bodies and their wallets afford her!) and she loves sex. Men, fortunately for Dora, cannot help but love her back. Let's hope she remembers to make hay while the sun shines, because once those tits and that ass start to droop, you can just fuhgeddaboutit...!
There's a great episode of THE SIMPSONS in which the whole family go back to the Victorian era via a reality TV show. 'Want me to wuther your heights?' Homer says to Marge suggestively during an intimate moment. Her complicated, hard-to-get-out-of olde-timey undergarments, however, prove to be the ultimate cock-blocker, haha.
By contrast, Lili the bluestocking (a word used to describe academically-minded females; usually used in a derogatory sense to imply that such women are not attractive to men) is plainly dressed and Z makes her remove her own undergarments as if she's a patient undressing for a gynaecological examination by a particularly uninterested doctor.
Lili is shy and modest by comparison with her more flamboyant sister Dora. One gets the impression that Dora would be happy to have an audience to her sexual shenanigans but Lili is shy and insists on huddling beneath the bedclothes and doing it, one would imagine, in the 'respectable' missionary position.
Also, her underclothes are plain, functional and not at all sexually alluring or appealing. How Z doesn't know that these are two different women, however alike they might appear physically, is a mystery to me! The physical resemblance is where it ends. The two sisters are quite remarkably different from each other in every other way.
Also check out the scenes in which a monkey relates how he came to be in the zoo (yes, the zoo!), Dora rips off a jewellery merchant with panache and no small degree of imagination and Lili attends a lecture at which the (male) lecturer talks about how women secretly adore the man's penis and worship it despite its rather hideous appearance...! Yeah, sure we do, guys. Sure we do...
This wonderful black-and-white film is out now on special Blu-Ray release from SECOND RUN FILMS. It comes complete with a really interesting interview with the director (she's actually a woman; I literally could have sworn that such a sexy film was directed by a bloke...!) who reveals how she was the only woman at the film-school she attended because women were supposed to have had a distracting influence on the men! Well, I never. Humph.
The interview was shot especially for this release by film-maker Peter Strickland. The film also comes with an illustrated booklet featuring a new essay on the film by author and critic Jonathan Owen.
It's such an unusual and imaginative and even mischievous film that I honestly think that the lives of anyone who sees it couldn't fail to be enriched. MY 20TH CENTURY comes with my personal guarantee that you'll love it. I can't say fairer than that...!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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