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Animation / Foam Bath

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Animated musical to the rhythm of a heartbeat.

Habfürdő (known as Foam Bath or Bubble Bath in English) is an obscure 1979note  animated musical Romantic Comedy made by Hungary's Pannonia Film Studio, the only feature-length film of artist György Kovásznai.

One day, the dull life of lonely medical student Anna Parádi is interrupted by Zsolt Mohai, a tall, dark and hysterical shop window decorator, who begs her to phone his fiancé Klára, and call off their impending wedding. Farcical melodrama, misunderstandings, musical numbers and overwrought dialogue follow, with recordings of real everyday parents fitted in, presented in some of the most Deranged Animation ever put out by its home studio. Topics include relationships, parenting, professional careers, the medical field, loyalty, commitment, compromise, and exploring the jaded outlook on life in 1970s Budapest.


Beyond the catchy tunes and social themes, the film is mostly known for its unconventional art design, taking Off-Model animation to the extreme, expressing all of the characters' mood swings in visual form, and even throwing in some Medium Blending. The characters morph, contort, shrink, fall apart, and shift between a multitude of art styles, and the apartment around them is brought to life with a variety of visual effects. Kovásznai's work, having originated from a socialist country with strict censorship in tense political times, has long astonished a number of Western artists and critics with its experimental and satirical nature, and his usual trademarks shine through in the film.

The movie, though, is obscure for a reason. It bombed hard and sank into oblivion, and its director died a few years later, unable to realize any future film plans he's had. Foam Bath's failure also meant the studio put a tighter leash on its creators — thankfully, a few standout artistic achievements did still come out, such as Son of the White Horse. It wasn't until the 90s and 2000s that Kovásznai's works were rediscovered and placed into proper historical context, and though the movie still hasn't quite become a Cult Classic, it is now easily accessible and gaining newfound recognition.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Anna, a nerd for medicine science sporting Nerd Glasses.
  • A Friend in Need: Anna to Klára, always there to bring her down to earth.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Anna, who comes to the conclusion that love isn't for her.
  • Art Shift: Happens constantly, often within a single shot. Can lead to Art-Style Dissonance.
  • Babies Ever After: Zsolt and Anna are parents by the end.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Zsolt hopes Anna would be well qualified for this role, being a medical student and all. He couldn't have chosen a worse candidate.
  • Book-Ends: Anna sitting alone in the same room of her shared apartment, casually swinging her legs.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Anna constantly tries but fails to inform her friend Klára that her groom wants to leave her.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Anna and Nándor, at least that's how Klára rationalizes why they're acting weird.
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  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Between Zsolt and Anna, the apartment is soon filled with dense smoke as they muse over their lives and relieve the day's tension.
  • Commitment Issues: Anna is too insecure and concerned with her career to strike up a romance, Zsolt values his freedom and self-pride over a marriage, whereas Klára is too clingy if anything, and wants to settle down as a House Wife at the expense of her career — and perhaps that of her would-be husband, which is why Anna calls Klára out on her ideas over commitment. Most of these views are reconciled one way or another by the end.
  • Deconfirmed Bachelor: Zsolt, by the end, goes through with the wedding after all.
  • Deranged Animation: Ranks among the most experimental animated movies ever made. There is a method to its apparent madness, though: the director called this style "anima verité", taking people or subjects from real life and exaggerating them into extreme caricatures through the magic of animation, to bring awareness to society's problems in a way that live footage can't.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The whole film, but mostly some of the musical scenes, standouts being Zsolt's decorator song and his Imagine Spot, in which he and Anna cycle through a full load of abstract art styles.
  • Dirty Coward: Zsolt, he'd rather burden Anna with his deeply personal issues than just talk to his bride himself.
  • Driven to Suicide: Klára's had two attempts.
  • Drunken Master: Inverted with Nándi, alcohol makes him aggressive as well as easily confused and tired.
  • Farce: In between discussing serious topics, the film gradually becomes more and more comically ridiculous.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The director was notoriously obsessed with breasts, so it's no wonder he smuggled in some nip slips and nude models.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Nándi after he gets drunk and knocked out cold. No matter the theatrics and loud singing going on around him, nor Anna diving into him, he keeps snoozing.
  • Hidden Depths: Klára at first comes off as spoiled, stubborn and bratty, too distracted by her own cheerfulness to realize how much Zsolt doesn't want to marry. Then she reveals what a wreck her personal life is, and although she wants to marry for superficial reasons, she's ready to make compromises and make her husband happy.
  • Hospital Hottie: Zsolt sees Anna this way, but she's always quick to point out she's still a student.
  • Housewife: Klára aims to be one, until the very end.
  • Insistent Terminology: Zsolt takes offence at his bride's parents having called him a window-dresser instead of a decorator, even though that's how he introduces himself too.
  • Just Friends: Though Anna and Zsolt both fall for each other, they posit their relationship is better off as a friendship.
  • Large Ham: Zsolt. He's full of theatrics even without the over-the-top animation style.
  • Love Triangle: Zsolt and Klára are set to marry, but then Anna is looking for a man too, and Zsolt just seems to be her type...
  • MD Envy: Referred to by Klára, who doesn't think too highly of the medical field and its hierarchy, at least at first.
  • Medium Blending: Mostly regular cel animation, complemented occasionally with cutouts, stop-motion, still paintings, heavily filtered real-life footage, and various light and atmospheric effects achieved via multiple camera passes.
  • Mind Screw: The story, characters and themes may be grounded in reality for the most part, but the visuals aim for the abstract. Take for instance the final song, where the characters swim around in the floor and furniture, Zsolt turns into a cloud of bubbles, and his diving gear sprouts breathing tanks on the fly.
  • Mistaken for Afterlife: Inverted when the houselady thinks Zsolt in a diver's suit is the ghost of her husband.
  • Mood-Swinger: All three leads.
  • The Musical: Two concepts were weighed for the movie, a musical and a standard film drama; in the end, the musical version won out to play to the animated medium's strengths.
  • Nerd Glasses: Anna wears these.
  • Nervous Wreck: Zsolt, but Anna and Klára have their moments as well.
  • Off-Model: Deliberately enforced. The characters are comprised of their basic attributes, but otherwise morph around freely. The design teams created unique looks for each emotion the characters feel, preserving just enough visual cues to make them recognizable as persons (though not necessarily as humans). This was done by photographing live models in various emotional states, then taking the "essence" of each emotion and magnifying them into their own distinct designs. Even their surroundings feel alive.
  • Perspective Reversal: Nearly avoiding a nervous breakdown, Zsolt becomes a (literal) wooden puppet cradled by Anna as he asks her to examine him and give him a new reason to live. Later on, as he becomes more assertive and confident, Anna turns into a display dummy for Zsolt to tinker with in an Imagine Spot.
  • Revenge Romance: Though Klára does love Zsolt, she mainly wants to marry him get back at an older lover of hers.
  • Runaway Fiancé: Zsolt chickening out of his marriage drives the events.
  • Ship Tease: Much of the film is setting up a possible relationship between Zsolt and Anna.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Zsolt, a mere window-dresser, regards himself as a magnificent artist and is something of a philosopher to boot.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: Though all leads smoke, Klára makes it look good.
  • Spiritual Successor: The director died during the pre-production of his second movie, an adaptation of Voltaire's Candide. The project was picked up again much later, and 2014 saw the release of this short film, based on Foam Bath's animation style and Kovásznai's original production notes, though completely disregarding his proposed character designs. A full miniseries titled The Adventures of Candide was finally released in late 2018.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: Played to excess for much of the plot — first, Anna's unable to tell Klára that Zsolt wants to abandon her, then as she begins falling for Zsolt, her continued attempts at talking to Klára just lead to her bursting into tears. Each time, Klára fills in the blanks with her own interpretation and Anna digs herself deeper.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Klára is this to Zsolt, for most of the movie.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Nándi, a brutish heavyweight boxer with a squeaky voice.
  • Wedding Day: The film is supposed to take place on one, which Zsolt (badly) attempts to prevent.


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