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Film / Sunshine (1999)

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Sunshine is a 1999 historical drama film directed by István Szabó and written by Israel Horovitz and Szabó.

It follows five generations of a Hungarian Jewish family, originally named Sonnenschein (German: "sunshine"), later changed to Sors (Hungarian: "fate"), during changes in Hungary, focusing mostly on the three generations from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. The family story traverses the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire through to the period after the 1956 Revolution, while the characters are forced to surrender much of their identity and endure family conflict. The central male protagonist of all three generations is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes. The film's stars include Rachel Weisz and John Neville, with the real-life daughter and mother team of Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris playing the same character across a six-decade storyline.

The film was an international co-production among companies from Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Canada. It won three European Film Awards, including Best Actor for Fiennes, and three Canadian Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture.

See here for the 2007 film.

Sunshine contains examples of:

  • Fictional Counterpart: Sonnenschein family's liquor business was based on the Zwack family's liquor brand Unicum.
  • Generational Saga: The film tells the story of the Hungarian Jewish Sonnenschein family, with each generation living in a time of political upheaval. The first generation has to deal with World War I and its ramifications, the second generation with World War II and the third generation lives through communist Hungary.
  • Historical Fiction: Covers a number of moments of Hungary's history, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to post-World War II.