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Sunshine is a historical drama film directed by István Szabó in 1999. The movie stars Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris, and Rachel Weisz in lead roles. Set in the early 20th century, the film explores the multi-generational journeys of a Hungarian Jewish family called Sonnenschein.

The film takes us through three distinct periods of the family's history, all marked by enormous changes in the sociopolitical landscape of Hungary. The story starts in the late 19th century when Ignatz Sonnenschein, an innovative and wealthy Jewish businessman, decides to change his family's name to be more Hungarian sounding. He and his family enjoy a life of luxury in Budapest, with Ignatz spending his wealth to fund civic projects and the arts. However, the family's fate takes a turn when World War I breaks out, and Hungary is thrown into chaos. Ignatz's son, Adam Sonnenschein, becomes a well-known judge during the war but is sent into exile after the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapses.

The second part of the movie is set during the 1930s when Hungary falls under fascist rule, and the Sonnenschein family is subjected to increasing persecution for being Jewish. Adam's son, Ivan, becomes a talented fencer, and the narrative follows his attempt to compete at the Olympic Games. However, Ivan's dreams are shattered when the Hungarian government pulls out of the games, and the family's livelihood is further threatened.

The final segment of the film brings us to the present day, and Irene, our protagonist, is searching for her Hungarian roots. The twist in this tale is that the Irene we see today bears a striking resemblance to her great-grandmother, Valerie, who was saved from the Holocaust during WWII. It soon becomes clear that there is more to Irene's lineage than she imagined, and her journey to understand her immigrant family's history takes her back to Hungary - where she must confront the harsh realities of the country's past.

Sunshine expertly weaves together historical facts and the family's story to depict the struggle of Hungary's progressive Jewish community against the backdrop of the country's turbulent modern history. The movie examines the themes of identity, persistence, and resilience of the Sonnenschein family over three generations through the political changes that rocked Central Europe and forced them to adapt to a new reality.

Ralph Fiennes delivers one of his best performances in the lead role, lending depth and nuance to his portrayal of a family patriarch, who tries to shelter his family from the economic and political instability that sweeps through Hungary. Rosemary Harris plays Valerie, the matriarch of the Sonnenschein family, and Rachel Weisz gives a strong performance as Irene, the protagonist investigating her lineage.

Director István Szabó masterfully depicts the time and place, capturing the atmosphere of Budapest circa late 19th century, the excitement of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and the horrors of the Holocaust. The movie's vivid and evocative style, with sweeping camera movements and vibrant visuals, immerses the audience in the different times and places that the Sonnenschein family traverses.

Overall, Sunshine is an exceptional film that explores the fragility of identity and the power of perseverance as a family navigates the tumultuous history of Hungary over the course of the 20th century. Szabó's masterful direction is complemented by the performances of the talented cast, making the movie an essential watch for anyone interested in epic family sagas set against a historical backdrop.

Sunshine is a Drama, History, Romance, War movie released in 1999. It has a runtime of 181 min. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.5. It also holds a MetaScore of 71.

How to Watch Sunshine

Where can I stream Sunshine movie online? Sunshine is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Kanopy, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Sunshine for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

István Szabó
Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Ehle, Deborah Kara Unger, Molly Parker, James Frain, John Neville, Miriam Margolyes, William Hurt
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