Going to the Movies
Budapest is a wonderful city for films. At any given time there are more films playing in Budapest than there are in Philadelphia. Theaters range from the most modern with high backed chairs and stadium seating, to art houses with thirty seats and a screen. We have found even the small theaters to have good projection quality and we pretty much go wherever the movies we like are. If you want large screens and sophisticated sound systems you should aim more at the shopping malls like West End Center or Duna Plaza.
In general, most English language films are shown in English with Hungarian subtitles. Movies for children, or movies of special Hungarian interest will be dubbed. By the way, almost all films available on video cassete are dubbed, so you will have to find a specialty store if you want to rent or buy (non Hungarian language) video tapes. And don't forget -- video in Hungary is in the European PAL format. The tapes won't play on your machine back in America even though they do say VHS!
Admission prices range from $2.00 at the smaller local houses to $5.00 in the shopping centers. Concessions are proportionally cheap (although Western soft drinks jack up the price.) The Hungarians love popcorn and it is available at almost all theaters.
Tickets for the major theaters are for assigned seats -- in general Hungarians consider the seats in the back to be best and so that is what is sold first. If you don't understand what you are being told about the seats, just agree.
You can get Movie listings in the Budapest Sun (The English language weekly newspaper), but why not use the resources that Hungarians use? There are two weekly magazines which are devoted to giving listings of movies, theater, music, and other artistic events. Both magazines list events from Thursday through Wednesday so if you try to get one on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you may be told that there aren't any -- or worse, get one that doesn't cover the period you want.
(Ask for "Peshtee Mooshore") Is available at newsstands for under 50 cents. I find it more complete and easier for an Anglophone to read.
To find movies:
- Look in the table of Contents in the front for the main (red) heading "Film es Video"
- Under that heading look for "A heten lathato filmek rovidtartalma" and turn to the page indicated.
When you get there the section will be headed "Filmek a Heten."
What follows is an alphabetic list of the films that are playing that week ordered by their Hungarian titles. The listing gives :
- the Hungarian Title (important because this is what you ask for when you buy tickets.)
- Then the Title as the film was originally made (English for American films.)
- Then in parentheses it tells you:
Parts of this information may be left out when they are either obvious or not available. So for example, it is obvious that an Hungarian film (magyar) will be neither dubbed nor subtitled.
- Whether the film is in color (szin.) or black and white (f.f.);
- the country (and thus the language) in which the film was made. So amerikai means America, magyar means Hungary, francia means France, and so on;
- whether the film is subtitled (in Hungarian) feliratos or dubbed (into Hungarian) szinkronizalt;
- the last entry is the running time (given in minutes) perc.
Next there will be a list of all of the theaters that the film is playing at. The multiplexes tend to set aside one screen for a film and play it many times a day. Smaller houses may show up to five different films at different times in the day.
You need to look up the theater in the alphabetical listing to find out what time it is showing a particular film. A lowercase letter before the time is telling you that the show is earlier. For example f20 would mean that the show is at 7:30 P.M. (half eight.) Be careful to note the date too! Smaller theaters may show a film only one or two days of the week. If you are going to one of the big multiplexes, it is often easier to scan through the magazine and find the ad for that theater -- this often gives you an easier to read time listing.
PestiEst (ask for "Peshtee Esht""
is a free magazine distributed in theaters, resturants, coffee houses, and various other points Look for a black and white PESTIEST sticker on the door (check your hotel lobby.) In fact, if you are in a mall on a Friday afternoon it may seem as if every other young couple you see has a PestiEst and are planning their weekend. The organization is not quite as good as Pesti Musor -- you especially have to search to find the page that gives the English titles, but all the information is there.