OBITUARY: Hungarian Animation Director Marcell Jankovics


    BUDAPEST: The acclaimed Hungarian animation director, graphic artist, book illustrator and cultural historian Marcell Jankovics died at the age of 79. He was a key figure in the Hungarian culture and an internationally recognised artist of Hungarian animation.

    His Sisyphus (1974) was nominated for the Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category, while The Struggle / Küzdők (1977) received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Born in 1941 in Budapest, Marcell Jankovics started working at the Pannonia Film Studio in the early sixties, and was appointed director in 1965. His first long animated film Johnny Corncob / János Vitéz (1973), based on the epic poem by Sándor Petőfi, was a milestone in the history of Hungarian animation.

    Marcell Jankovics, credit: Lajos NádorfiJankovics started the series of Hungarian Folk Tales / Magyar népmesék in 1977, which he took care of as a screenwriter, director and designer until 2002. Many generations grew up watching these animations. Hungarian Folk Tales also became hugely popular internationally after being uploaded to YouTube. The English versions had 102 millions viewers until the end of 2019.

    His next long animated film Son of the White Mare / Fehérlófia (1981) was labeled as a psychedelic masterpiece and brought him even more international recognition. It was digitally restored in 2019 and released in the USA in the next year. 

    Song of the Miraculous Hind / Ének a Csodaszarvasról (2002) was an adaptation of an ancient Hungarian legend and depicts the early history of the Hungarians. All of his films were produced by Pannonia Film Studio until that point.

    An old dream came true with the completion of The Tragedy of Man / Az ember tragédiája (2001, Magyar Rajzfilm), a 160-minute animated film based on Imre Madách’s famous play showing the epic journey of Adam and Eve throughout history, which he made in 23 years.

    In recent years, Marcell Jankovics was working on Toldi, produced by Kecskemétfilm. The series is set to be released in the autumn of 2021, while the film version is planned to be completed in 2022.

    He served as the honourary president of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.