Journey by Moonlight

Journey by Moonlight

Facts

logline: A film of nostalgia and ecstasy, where, on his honeymoon in Italy, Mihály is dragged down into the depths by the whirlpool of his dizzying and sinful past.

genre: Drama

length: Approx. 120 min.

language: Hungarian, Italian, English

audience: Mature

status: Developed, Seeking Financing

budget: $6 million ~ €7 million

schedule: Anticipated Shoot: March 2021

creative team: János Szász, Director (THE NOTEBOOK, OPIUM, THE WITMANN BOYS, WOYCZEK)

József Berger, Producer (ESSENTIAL KILLING)

Synopsis

 The story begins in 1934, in Italy. Mihály (37), leaving behind his rebellious past marries Erzsi (34); they sail into Venice as blissful newlyweds. But amidst the Venetian alleyways, Mihály feels strangled by a strong feeling of anxiety, and the forgotten shadows of his past begin to stir beneath the ruins of the years. In Ravenna, they run into one of Mihály’s hated past acquaintances, János Szepetneki, according to whom Mihály has betrayed their shared youth, but can make amends if he finds their old friend and love, Éva Ulpius, in Italy, in addition to another friend from their old group, a converted Jew, Ervin, who lives deep in a Franciscan monastery somewhere in Umbria. Mihály’s youth comes bursting forth from within him like hot lava. He must find them! He tells Erzsi everything; his youth from 1914 is reanimated within him, along with the great emotions – or as he calls it, his love – for his dear friend Tamás Ulpius.

While the horrors of World War I are underway outside, the teenage twins – Tamás and Éva Ulpius – and 16-year-old Mihály, live in the sanctuary of the ULPIUS HOUSE in Budapest, playing bizarre games: they act out the great tragedies of cultural history and historical events, in which erotica, death, love, and executions are tightly intertwined. Joining the three of them later is Ervin, the Jewish boy, and the lying, cheating János Szepetneki. But Tamás longs for something more than play-acting: he wants true suicide. He is curious to see what it is like to die, and desires death in an erotic sense. Twice he fails, but the third time – now at age 20 – he makes no more mistakes: in an Austrian spa city, Hallstatt, where he and Éva travel on their own, Tamás successfully ends his life. But how it all happened, the details, are only known to ÉVA ULPIUS! Now, 20 years later, Mihály wants to find an answer to his question: how did his dearest friend Tamás die? Mihály is engulfed by fatal nostalgia, and on sudden impulse, he gets off the train and leaves his wife, Erzsi. Mihály’s trip turns from a HONEYMOON into a PILGRIM’S JOURNEY; for weeks he wanders through Italy, feverish and plagued by hallucinations, searching for traces of his youth. After the long months of his journey, from Assisi through Gubbio – where he meets Ervin – he ends up in Rome, where he finally finds his old love, Éva. She tells the story of Tamás’s death; it turns out that she poisoned her brother, and their incestuous love was consummated in a fatally sensual embrace at the end. Mihály begs Éva to help him into the afterlife too! “Tamás’s death was right for Tamás alone. Everyone has to find his own way to die,” Éva says, but she finally agrees to return the next day and fulfill his wish. But Mihály’s will cannot come to pass…   

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