How Evita broke the ceiling for Hungarian film production
Apr 5, 2020
The aftermath of Evita is huge regarding the Hungarian film industry, it created a domino-like effect. Why is that? Madonna or Antonio Banderas, the two superstars who graced our capital? Actually no. In this article we explain why Evita was a global hit and an icebreaker for the Hungarian movie industry.
Why Eva Duarte de Perón?
Let’s start with the story of creating the movie version Evita. Evita’s persona was one that craved a big storytelling medium to share her story. She was an illegitimate child of a poor family, who became an actress and activist, then the first lady of Argentina. Her down-to-earth, charismatic, charitable character was celebrated in Argentina and after her death she was mourned all over the country.
The success story
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice adopted her story to Broadway, and the Evita musical became a hit in the late 70s: it was played 1567 times. To follow up this success the producers asked Ken Russell to direct the movie. The projact later landed at Oliver Stone who wanted Barbra Streisand or Liza Minelli for the role but since Stone had some conflicts with the Argentine president, so the project was dropped again. It was Andy Vajna who picked it up again and gave Alan Parker the chance to direct.
There was many actress that was considered for the role, but guess who was the most pushy one. Madonna wrote a four-page personal letter to Parker that her story resembles very much to Eva’s: poor family background, small town girl in a big city. She even attached the video clip of „Take A Bow” which is set in a 1940-50s atmosphere, just to prove she is a good fit for the movie.
Budapest as Buenos Aires?
Supposedly it was Andy Vajna who suggested Budapest as a location for the movie. The reason was that Buenos Aires in 1996 was already too modern to shoot a movie that was supposed be set in the 1940-50s. Budapest as a location was the perfect choice: historic, grandiose and cheap. This project showed for future projects and investors that Budapest is a chameleon, it can be turned into any city, any era.
You can catch Andrássy avenue in the movie and the Museum of Ethnography served as the spot of the bier of Evita:
Evita was the first great production in Hungary from the US. Americans were impressed with the great locations, the highly skilled crew, and the affordability on top.
Hungarian press and locals were pumped because of the superstars who spent a month in Hungary – Madonna found out in Budapest that she was pregnant, Antonio Banderas was already a sex symbol at the time.
Evita was the first example which paved the way for Budapest as a well-known place for quality movie production.