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10 of the Best Hungarian Movies of All Time

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Watching Hungarian movies is a great way to learn the language. Hearing native speakers use the language in various contexts will help you get used to certain phrases and patterns as well as familiarize you with colloquial Hungarian—both of which are very important for your future conversations with locals.

Another benefit of using movies to supplement your Hungarian studies is that it doesn’t feel like studying at all! And that’s the key to language learning: making the process enjoyable. This allows you to learn much faster and with ease because studying will no longer feel like a burden.

For this article, we’ve collected ten of the top Hungarian movies that you must see. These films will not only help you grasp the language in natural contexts, but also give you a better understanding of Hungarian culture.


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hungarian Table of Contents
  1. The Witness – A tanú (1969)
  2. Mephisto – Mephisto (1981)
  3. Sunshine – A napfény íze (1999)
  4. Glass Tiger – Üvegtigris (2001)
  5. A Kind of America – Valami Amerika (2002)
  6. Made in Hungaria – Made in Hungária (2009)
  7. For Some Inexplicable Reason – Van valami furcsa és megmagyarázhatatlan (2014)
  8. Son of Saul – Saul fia (2015)
  9. The Citizen – Az állampolgár (2016)
  10. Sing – Mindenki (2016)
  11. How HungarianPod101.com Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

1. The WitnessA tanú (1969)

IMDb rating: 8.7 / 10

This old Hungarian movie, directed by Péter Bacsó, is a must-watch if you’re interested in the history of Hungary. The satirical piece was banned for ten years before its official release in 1969 because of its criticism of the Communist regime in Hungary after World War II. Its censorship illustrates how important this Hungarian movie is in context of the nation’s history. Given its release date, you’ll likely hear a few expressions that are no longer used in everyday Hungarian speech.

The story is about József Pelikán, a dike-keeper who commits a silly crime—slaughtering his pig—for which he is not sentenced but rather elevated into a serious position that was reserved for the Communist regime. Although he does not understand why this happened, he is later called in to falsely testify against his good old friend at a trial as a favor for the regime that “saved him” from doing time in prison.

Curious what kind of language and dialogue you can expect to hear while watching? Here’s a sample of dialogue from the film: 

Bástya:
Mi ez?
“What’s this?”

Pelikán:
Egy narancs.
“An orange.”

Bástya:
Egy narancs?
“An orange?”

Pelikán:
Az új magyar narancs. Kicsit sárgább, kicsit savanyúbb*, de a miénk.
“The new Hungarian orange. It’s slightly yellower, it’s slightly sharper*, but our own.”

*While this is the original Hungarian transcription, do keep in mind that “sharper” literally translates to élesebb (not savanyúbb, which means something along the lines of “sour”).

2. MephistoMephisto (1981)

IMDb rating: 7.8 / 10

One of the best Hungarian movies of all time is surely Mephisto, directed by István Szabó and starring Klaus Maria Brandauer alongside many other great Hungarian actors.

This Hungarian film is set in 20th-century Germany, and it’s about a stage actor named Hendrik Höfgen who wants to become well-known and have a successful career. His biggest goal is to play the part of Mephisto. However, desperation to see his dream finally come true drives him to collude with the Nazis. The party offers him the fame he always wanted and he accepts the offer—but at what cost?

Here’s a quote from the film:

Nem én vagyok a legrémisztőbb gonosztevő, akit valaha láttál?
“Am I not the most dreadful villain you have seen?”

3. SunshineA napfény íze (1999)


IMDb rating: 7.5 / 10

Sunshine debuted in 1999 and is one of the most popular Hungarian drama movies, telling the story of a Hungarian Jewish family in the 20th century. This film has played a large role in Hungarian culture since its release, so if you’re thinking about watching Hungarian movies online, this one should definitely be on your list! 

Like Mephisto, this Hungarian movie was also directed by István Szabó. The story follows three generations of a Hungarian Jewish family; viewers witness their successes, the horrors they face during the Holocaust, and how the 1956 revolution affects them. 

We especially recommend this film for beginners, as the original audio is in English. By watching the film with Hungarian subtitles, you can more easily pick up new words, broaden your vocabulary, and become more familiar with Hungarian history and culture.

Here’s a quote from the film: 

Az antiszemitizmus bosszús és sikertelen emberek hitvallása…a filiszteusok filozófiája. Ízléstelen.
“Anti-semitism is a creed of resentful and unsuccessful people…the philosophy of Philistines; it’s in bad taste.”

Top Verbs

4. Glass Tiger Üvegtigris (2001)

IMDb rating: 7.7 / 10

The Hungarian movie Glass Tiger is a comedy that could be considered the “visual anthem” of the nation (alongside A Kind of America, which we’ll introduce in a bit as well). It was partially directed by Péter Rudolf, who also starred in the movie alongside Gábor Reviczky and József Szarvas.

The story is about six good friends who normally live very boring lives. In the film, however, they encounter quite a handful of interesting situations. The ‘Üvegtigris’ (a buffet truck that the character Lali owns) is at the heart of the whole movie.

Here’s a recurring sentence that, because of this Hungarian film, became a famous catchphrase in the Hungarian language:

Ízirájder, öcsém, ízirájder!
“Easy rider, bro’, easy rider.”

The guys in the film use this phrase to describe a “laid-back dude” or some loser that “copies Americans.”

5. A Kind of AmericaValami Amerika (2002)


IMDb rating: 6.9 / 10

Our list of the top Hungarian movies could never be complete without A Kind of America, which is a prime example of the typical Hungarian comedy movie. 

The film follows the story of an up-and-coming film director named Tamás, who lives in Budapest. He has a great idea for a film, but lacks the money to make his dream come true. One day, an American film producer reaches out to Tamás and praises him for the script he’s written—Tamás sees this as a grand opportunity and, with the help of his two brothers, tries to impress the producer once they meet in person. But it’s not such an easy task, after all…

The cast of this film includes several famous Hungarian actors and actresses, such as Győző Szabó, Ferenc Hujber, Szonja Oroszlán, and Claudia Liptai. If you would like to perfect your language skills—and pick up some slang too, of course—by watching a silly and humorous Hungarian movie, this film should be at the top of your list! 

Here’s a quote from the movie that’ll make you smile: 

Olyan vagyok, mint a spanyolnátha. Bárki megkaphat.
“I’m like the Spanish flu. Anybody can get me.”

6. Made in Hungaria Made in Hungária (2009)

IMDb rating: 6.9 / 10

Among the best films to learn Hungarian is Made in Hungaria, a lively musical with a captivating plot, charming characters, and songs you’re going to love. Regarding the language of the film, the vocabulary is nowhere near as rough as that of Üvegtigris or Valami Amerika, for example. There are a couple of curse words and a little bit of slang, but these aspects of the language do not feature prominently in the film. 

Miki and his parents return to Communist Hungary in the 1960s after living in America for some time. He finds it hard to assimilate at first, as even his old friends don’t know what to make of his new style and personality. Throughout the story, we can see Miki (who happens to be a young musician) trying to win over his childhood love, Vera, and to make his old friends trust and like him again—all while getting ready to participate in a talent show. 

Several famous actors feature in this film, including Tamás Szabó Kimmel, Iván Fenyő, and Péter Scherer.

Now, for some sample dialogue: 

Miki’s mom:
Jesszus, miért vagy vizes?
“Jesus, why are you wet?”

Miki:
Útközben megáztam.
“I got wet on my way home.”

Miki’s mom:
De hát nem is esett!
“But it didn’t even rain!”

Miki:
Ahol én voltam, igen.
“It did where I was.”

Miki’s dad:
A Tűzoltó utcában, ugye?
“In Tűzoltó street*, right?”

*Tűzoltó street is located in Budapest.

Miki:
Honnan tudod? Valaki beköpött?
“How do you know? Did somebody rat me out?”

Miki’s dad:
Ez Magyarország. Itt mindenki tud mindent.
“This is Hungary. Everybody knows everything.”

Someone Purchasing Popcorn and a Drink at a Movie Theater

7. For Some Inexplicable Reason – Van valami furcsa és megmagyarázhatatlan (2014)

IMDb rating: 7.5 / 10

This is one of the more recent Hungarian movies, written and directed by Gábor Reisz. It has won eight awards in total, including the Adolph Zukor Prize at the Jameson CineFest and the Best Feature Film at FEST New Directors/New Films Festival.

The film tells the story of Áron, a nerdy guy who is about to turn thirty but is recently single, unemployed, and lacking any kind of purpose in life. In search of meaning and excitement, he buys a ticket to Lisbon and flies there to find himself. The film depicts the truth of what it’s like to be a young professional and what hardships one must encounter throughout their life.

Quote:

Hihetetlen, hogy a rossz dolgokat mindenki elhiszi, ami jó, az meg állandóan magyarázatra szorul.
“It’s unbelievable how everybody believes the bad things, but the good ones always need to be explained.”

8. Son of Saul Saul fia (2015)

IMDb rating: 7.5 / 10

We had to include this one on our list of the top Hungarian movies. It’s quite possibly the most famous Hungarian film nowadays, having won an Oscar as well as 62 other prizes. The film, directed by László Nemes Jeles and featuring the acting talent of Géza Röhrig, even had a screening at the Cannes Film Festival

The film shows just two days of the main character’s (Saul’s) life. He is a Jewish Hungarian captive in Auschwitz who tries to have a boy, believed to be his son, buried properly by a rabbi. He refuses to join the others in a rebellion they’re planning, choosing instead to save the remains of the child as he feels guilty for not having taken care of him while he was still alive.

Watching this Hungarian film will give you a glimpse into the horrors that took place in Auschwitz.

Here’s some sample dialogue from the film: 

Abraham:
Cserben hagytad az élőket a halottért.
“You failed the living for the dead.”

Saul:
Már halottak vagyunk.
“We are dead already.”

A Big Crowd at the Cannes Film Festival

9. The CitizenAz állampolgár (2016)


IMDb rating: 7.2 / 10

One of the latest Hungarian movies to debut, this film touches on sensitive topics related to immigration practices and refugees in Hungary. 

It depicts the life of an African-American man in his fifties who has been living in Hungary as a refugee, but would like to acquire Hungarian citizenship. To achieve this goal, he studies a lot for exams and even learns the language, trying to assimilate into the culture. However, his journey is not easy as he constantly encounters racist people and those who do not trust or believe in him. 

The main character’s charm lies in the fact that the part is played by an amateur actor—Dr. Cake-Baly Marcelo—who’s a former refugee in real life and currently a resident of Budapest.

This movie is perfect for language learners because there’s a person on-screen they can relate to: somebody who’s trying to learn a new, rather challenging language. In the film, you can see that effort matters and that the path to mastering a language is through trial and error. Plus, you can try to understand Wilson’s lines without English subtitles (although Netflix does provide them).

Here’s a quote you’ll hear in the film: 

Hazádnak rendületlenül légy híve, óh magyar!
“To your homeland, without fail be faithful, oh Hungarian.”

This is the first line of Szózat, a Hungarian patriotic song written by Mihály Vörösmarty. It happens to be the second most important one, after the national anthem (Himnusz).

10. Sing Mindenki (2016)

IMDb rating: 8.1 / 10

Last but definitely not least, here’s a short Hungarian film that conveys a wonderful message.

The story is based on a true event and set in Budapest in the 1990s. It follows an award-winning children’s choir and questions certain pedagogical methods. When a new girl joins the school choir, she slowly discovers the truth behind why the group became famous in the first place. This Hungarian film is less than half an hour long, but it will surely leave you speechless.

Quote:

Ha mindenki szót fogad, mindenkinek jó lesz.
“If everybody obeys, it’s going to be good for everybody.”

11. How HungarianPod101.com Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential 

We hope we’ve gotten you in the mood to watch a couple—or more—Hungarian movies. As we said in the beginning, this is a great way to pick up new vocabulary and become more familiar with the culture while having fun. 

And the best part? You can find most of these Hungarian movies on Netflix (at the time of this writing). This means you’ll have little trouble accessing these titles and can use English subtitles to better understand the language in a given film.  

If you’re really lucky, you might even be able to watch some of these movies in the cinema (such as on special nostalgia nights). 

Did you enjoy this article? Then don’t forget to check out our other articles, too (like this one on the best Hungarian TV series). We also recommend that you join the HungarianPod101 family to gain access to exclusive benefits, such as audio lessons and reading exercises. Sign up now and become a part of the largest Hungarian language-learning community out there! 

Not sure where to start? Visit our page Getting Started with HungarianPod101.com for some great ideas. 

Before you go: Which Hungarian movie will you watch first? Have you seen any of the films on our list already?