By Julia Ryder
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Allegory for the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire

This article is over 4 years, 6 months old
Issue 2657
Juli Jakab as Irisz Leiter
Juli Jakab as Irisz Leiter

Budapest high society basked in a heatwave in the summer of 1913. In Hungarian language drama Sunset, its depravity, decadence—and destruction—lie in the shadows.

Orphan Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) has returned to the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s second city in the hope of working in the famous Leiter hat shop. She soon finds that behind millinery lies villainry.

The Leiter shop and its staff and customers are an allegory of Austro Hungarian society. As one character tells Irisz towards the end, “The horror of the world hides beneath these infinitely pretty things.”

The Countess Redey spends her days high on opium, mourning her husband’s death five years on.

Her evenings are taken up hosting fashionable parties, where guests are entertained by her child protege son.


Lurking around is the sadistic Austrian aristocrat Otto von Koenig, preparing the ground for an imperial visit to the city.

The likes of Koenig seem distant from even their Hungarian peers. But the shop’s owner Oszkar Brill, brilliantly portrayed by Vlad Ivanov, plays the imperial bureaucrat stubbornly hanging onto their coattails.

And outside the streets swelter with violence and nationalist discontent. Irisz finds out that she has a brother, who supposedly murdered the Count Redey and now leads a group of anarchist come nationalist bandits.

Director Laszlo Nemes’s style relies on wide shots that focus on faces with the rest of the scene blurred. This means it can seem to be visually hallucinatory—which doesn’t work throughout the whole film.

Yet the film remains immersive and keeps you watching to its rather horrific finale.

Directed by Laszlo Nemes
In cinemas from 31 May


The original three series of Deadwood were some of the best television to come out of the US in the last decades. Now the film is here.

The brutally ruthless venture capitalist George Hearst, now senator for the state of California, has returned to the small town in South Dakota. He has carefully stepped over the large pile of bodies he has left behind him.

Much of the old cast has been reunited, despite 13 years passing since the end of the third series, with Ian McShane revelling in his role as the vile Al Swearangen.

On Sky Atlantic and available from other streaming sites


Dark matter—95 percent of the universe is missing

One of the biggest mysteries in physics today is what exactly makes up our Universe, and why 95 percent of it cannot be observed.

Normal matter—everything that we can see and observe—makes up 5 percent of the Universe.

The rest, including dark matter and dark energy, is an unknown that scientists have been hunting for nearly a century.

This exhibition highlights the critical role of artists, philosophers and storytellers in our understanding of reality.

At the Science Gallery, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9GU. From 6 June until 26 August. Free

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