“No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos”

Lifelong Friends

Amos Lassen

Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond are lifelong friends who work together as cinematographers and have had a tremendous presence on American movies. In 1956, they used high school equipment to film the Hungarian revolution and then became refugees when they fled to America and to Hollywood. They are considered part of the American New Wave.

Directed by Jim Chrissanthis, the film was two years in the making and we meet two men who totally love what they do and are happy to share what they know.

The film consists of “interviews with the industry’s top people (including Dennis Hopper, Sharon Stone, John Williams and Richard Donner), Chrissanthis molds a beautiful narrative of two men passionate about film and how they became like brothers through their struggles while going from “nobody’s” to two of the industry’s best assets”.

Kovacs sadly died while this documentary was in production but we still see enough of him and about him. He was a warm and loving person that contributed greatly to the world of film.

The film begins with a birthday party for Laszlo and then flashes back to the Hungarian Revolution and we then make our way through the twenty-seven films the two men made together in film school. It was smuggled out of Hungary with them. They came to Hollywood not speaking English and they really only had each other to speak to and we watch them as garbage men and then filming low budget movies and their friendship prospering during those hard days.

The film combines their life stories with stories of their craft and they are really remembered for the films they shot in the 1970’s and what we get is a very human tribute to two masters. Beginning with some really poor movies from Roger Corman, the two moved up the ladder of success and really reached their peak when Kovacs shot “Easy Rider” which opened the door for Zsigmond to get a job with Peter Fonda. The rest, as they say, is history and we were blessed with two of the finest cinema men that Hollywood has known.

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