The long gaps between the films of David Lean, Terrence Malick and Ildikó Enyedi, whose ‘On Body and Soul’ is on Netflix

Posted on October 25, 2018


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The Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi is part of a unique trivia list of filmmakers: the release dates of at least two of their films were separated by more than a decade. Stanley Kubrick belongs in this list, with a 12-year gap between Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). In David Lean’s case, 14 years elapsed between Ryan’s Daughter (1970) and A Passage to India (1984). Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998) came 20 years after Days of Heaven (1978). The Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson is something of a legend in this category, having made only six films in six decades. Songs from the Second Floor (2000) came a whopping 25 years after Giliap (1975). Ildikó Enyedi falls somewhere in between. On Body and Soul (2017) came 18 years after Simon, the Magician (1999). It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival last year, and is currently streaming on Netflix.

These numbers are not much more than trivia, of course. Looking at the gap, one might just think all that time went into the forthcoming film, but that’s not always the case. Take David Lean. Cinema legend has it that the reason for his self-imposed exile was the stinging criticism in Pauline Kael’s review of Ryan’s Daughter. (“Humorlessly meticulous… no driving emotional energy…”, and these are the less scathing bits.) Lean admitted that he was broken by the reviews. “I got terribly discouraged and I sort of gave it up for something like 14 years. I suppose round about Lawrence of Arabia I got quite good notices. Then, as I went on, Doctor Zhivago got the worst notices you could ever see. Ryan’s Daughter was absolutely torn to shreds by the critics and I thought: What the hell am I doing?”

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