Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Dorothy Segda essays three roles in the Hungarian-made My 20th Century. The film begins with the birth of twin girls to a Budapest mother (Dorothy Segda) in 1880. Orphaned early on, the girls are forced to sell matches on the streets until both are adopted by two separate families. Flash forward to 1900: Having lost track of one another, the grown-up twins take separate compartments on the Orient Express. One of the girls (Segda again) has become the pampered mistress of a wealthy man; the other (Segda yet again) is a bomb-wielding anarchist. Director Ildiko Enyedi evidently intended My 20th Century as an allegorical statement concerning the status of women in the modern mechanical age. The experiences of the twins are interspersed with shots of Thomas Edison (Peter Andorai), whom we see at the beginning of the film perfecting his incandescent light bulb on the very day that the sisters are born. The more technological advances made by Edison, the more confused the twins become in establishing their own roles in an advancing civilization. Adroitly avoiding cut-and-dried symbolism, Ildiko Enyedi keeps the audience wondering what she's up to by including such surrealistic vignettes as a caged chimpanzee recounting the day of his capture!
bomb, inventor, mistress, train [locomotive], twins, adoption
High Artistic Quality