TWO WOMEN
Thames TV
Producer/Director/Writer: Mira Hamermesh
 
The film TWO WOMEN poses the question as to how women's position stands in a Europe divided by the Iron Curtain in the seventies, in the rich West, ruled by capitalism, and in the Eastern European countries, ruled by a Soviet-dominated version of communism. Approaching the subject matter, the director Mira Hamermesh has gone against the grain. Instead of selecting a Western woman from amongst the privileged middle classes, she selected a working class woman.  
 
  And in Hungary, contrary to the expectations and pressures of the Ministry of Information, who tried to foist on her a working-class woman, she went for a privileged, highly educated and cultured woman, who was also an active Party member.  

The film juxtaposes the lives of two diverse representatives of women: Mary, a 33 year old English factory worker and housewife, and Ssuzsa, a 37 year old Hungarian graduate engineer. The two women are obviously different. Mary left school at 15, worked in a Birmingham engineering factory, became a shop steward, left, married (for the second time) and started a family. Ssuzsa, in Hungary, appears to be intellectual, introverted and earnest. She had some nerve-wrecking experiences in World War II and during the 1956 riots, but she is now a successful computer engineer and studying for a PhD in Budapest and Moscow. She is married and childless.

The film moves seamlessly between Birmingham and Budapest, en route in each country listening to the voices of individual women, who without exception complain about feeling economically and socially oppressed. At the end of the film, amid lively sequences of partying, both Ssuzsa and Mary seem to pronounce their attitudes to capitalism and communism with the words of 'a curse on both your houses.'

In an interview in the GUARDIAN, Raymond Gardner pressed the director for her own view on the situation: 'I don't offer solutions. The film talks for itself through the two people in it.'

 

 

  TWO WOMEN is an original film by Mira Hamermesh, and was commissioned by Granada. It explores the two opposing political systems of communism and capitalism in England and Eastern Europe through two women: Mary, an English working-class woman and married mother of a small boy, and Zsuzsa, an educated Hungarian woman and university lecturer.

TWO WOMEN suggests that both Mary and Zsuzsa and women generally are equally disadvantaged within two different political contexts; that they both share the same sexist stigma. Two Women is beautifully made (and benefits from several shots which could only have been directed by a woman). Mary is a natural performer and her part of the film is always enjoyable. But the final message of the film is that all women are repressed sexually, economically, physically. (Daily Telegraph)
'
 
1975
55 Mins
 
16mm