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Evita has Hungary reliving 1956 revolt

Almost 40 years after Russian tanks rolled through the streets of Budapest to crush the 1956 uprising, the Americans yesterday made a belated response in kind.

As angry protesters gathered on a square close to parliament, two vintage US Sherman tanks stormed in to disperse them.

But unlike the events of October 1956, this was make-believe: the opening shots of what is going to be more than a month of filming for a controversial production of Evita, starring Madonna.

The makers of the film, which is based on the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber about the life of Eva Peron, had gone to great lengths to recreate the feel of Buenos Aires in the 1950s. Imitation palm trees, Argentinian flags and large posters of Eva and her husband, General Juan Peron, adorned the square where this weekend's crowd scenes were filmed. The red star on a monument commemorating the city's liberation from the Nazis by the Soviet army in 1945 had been discreetly concealed.

The filming of Evita began earlier this year in Argentina but was disrupted by protests over the casting of Madonna in the title role. Many Argentines still revere Eva Peron, and felt the pop star would debase her memory. The Argentine President, Carlos Menem, declared Madonna was unsuitable for the role and described the musical as "a libellous interpretation of Evita's life".

Hungarians welcome the filming as a source of extra revenue and something that raises the profile of their capital city. But bemused onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of Madonnawere disappointed. She is not due to arrive until tomorrow.