UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Trail 6: Theatre and Cinema: Inspired by Hungarians


Sir Alexander Korda film director

Korda London Films…
Korda is one of those interwar émigrés (alongside e.g. the actor Leslie Howard and cinematographer László Kovács, who filmed Easy Rider) to Britain and America after whom the alleged Hollywood criterion was established that ‘It is not enough to be Hungarian to work here; you also need talent’. Knighted in Britain for his services to British film, he was founder and owner of London Films, which produced for example Lawrence Olivier’s Richard III, and British Lion Films.

John Halas (Halász László) animator

With the English artist Joy Batchelor he established Halas & Batchelor Studios in London and they created the famous animated film version of Orwell’s Animal Farm.

" In 1902 Baroness Orczy sent the manuscript of her novel The Scarlet Pimpernel to twelve publishers, who all rejected it. But when she turned it into a play, it was phenomenally popular. The Pimpernel is always mentioned when the cultural role of London Hungarians is discussed. Consider that the quintessentially British saviour of French aristocrats sprang from the imagination of a Hungarian Baroness, Emma Orczy (1865-1947). Furthermore, the first director to film the book was the Hungarian Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956). Moreover, he used an adaptation by the London based Hungarian writer Lajos Biró (1880-1947), and the Scarlet Pimpernel was played by Leslie Howard, the son of Hungarian immigrant parents, whose original name was Steiner.