Archive for April, 2010

Hagar Qim

The future episodes will talk a lot about history and about religion, and in many cases about both. The minuscule island at the crossroads of the Mediterranean offers on a very limited surface one of the richer collections of historical places from different epochs, as well as a deep religious spirit which carved history and the character of its people.

History in Malta starts with the Neolithic period when the first cultures set ashore the island and and started to build settlements, temples, and other structures whose scope and functions are no longer clear today. Several monuments similar to the Stonehenge megaliths in the South of England haven recovered and wonderfully preserved,  among them the ones at Mnajdra, Hagar Qim, and Ggantija on the island of Gozo which we have visited. A special chapter will be dedicated to these places.

'cavalerii de la Malta'

Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans successively conquered and ruled over Malta in the Ancient Era. Malta is related to the legends that surround the early Christianity, here is the place where St. Paul was shipwrecked in the year 60AD, and actually the place where we stayed was close to St.Paul’s Bay. Vandals and then Muslims ocupied the island in the Middle Ages, and the Arabic influence is being felt until today in the language which is of Semitic origin sharing more than 60% of the words with Arabic, and in the names of places like Medina, Ramla, or Rabat. Normands and Arabs fought for the domination of the islands for the first three centuries of the second millennium, with the Christian rule prevailing in 1248 and leading to the total expulsion of the Muslims in a prelude of the reconquista. However, part of the population chose to stay and convert to Christianity, one of the results being the Maltese language preserved, spoken and alive until today.  What was different from what happened two and a half centuries later in the Iberia peninsula was that Jews were allowed to stay and exercise not only their religion but also their commerce, among other with cotton which has been introduced during the Arab era.

Valletta city walls

The order of St. John – the Maltese cavaliers were donated the island by king Charles V of Spain and Roman Holy Emperor in 1523, after their expulsion from Rhodes by the Turks. Established in the 12th century in Jerusalem, the St. John order was the most important monastic order of the Catholicism during the Middle Ages and later aside the Templars. Their organization and ideology was very different however, they were focusing on hospitality and commerce and were warriors only when the needs of Christianity demanded. One of the marking moments of their history was the siege of Malta in 1565, which eventually led to the defeat of the Turks and a stop to their expansion in the Mediterranean. Following that moment the St. John cavaliers controlled Malta for more than two centuries, leaving their mark on the history and character of the people, and building as a fortress the principal city of Malta – Valletta. The cavaliers were exiled from the island by Napoleon at the end of the 18th century to … Russia, never to return here, but the deep Catholic faith remained impregnated in the geography and culture of Malta.

St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta

Malta is indeed the most fervent Catholic country that I have ever visited. 97% of its inhabitants declare themselves as Catholics. Magnificent churches can be found almost in every place, and they are decorated with fastidious religious art. Sculptures and religious decorations can be found not only in churches, but also on the streets, in Valletta for example almost every street corner is decorated with statues of saints.

street corner in Valletta

It would be mistaken to believe that this deep belief is a thing of the past. Many of the churches are quite recent, and their building was financed only by contributions and work from the local people. I have for example visited a magnificent dome in Xewkija (do not ask me how to read this!) on the island of Gozo – they say it’s the third or fourth in Europe (similar claims I heard about another church in Mosta, what is for sure both are HUGE). Well, the one in Xewkija is claimed to have been build solely with work and donations of the local people of the village of about 4000 inhabitants.

the Dome in Xewkija, Gozo

For sure, the history of Malta continued in the 19th and much of the 20th century as a British colony. During World War II Malta suffered a second siege under the German Luftwaffe attacks, but the island resisted heroically and the forces of Rommel never set foot in Malta. Independent since 1964, Malta turned left and became a turning point in the non-aligned nations movement in the first two decades of independence. This trend slowly changed by the end of the 20th century, and in 2004 Malta joined the European Union. Today tourists can visit the House of State which are both a museum and the symbol of governance of the island since the Grand Masters of the St. John’s order until the democratically elected presidents of Republic of Malta of today.

House of State

There is one episode of history that happened in Malta but I did not hear it mentioned during my stay there. On December 2 and 3, 1989 president Bush (father) and General Secretary Gorbachev met in Malta for a summit. This event happened less than one month after the fall of the wall of Berlin. Not everything is known yet about the details of that meeting, but it is widely considered the moment in time when the Russian leader conceded the defeat of the Soviets in the cold war and the acceptance of the end the Communist rule in Eastern Europe. It may be very well that the fate of Romania and of the Communist hard-line dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was also settled at that meeting. The circle of history represented by the division of Europe open in Yalta in 1943 was closed in Malta in 1989. It is in that extreme point of Europe that the history of the united old continent began.

This will certainly not be the last and ultimate documentary made about the events that precluded and picked that night of November in 1989 when the infamous Wall of Berlin fell, signaling that the process of ending the Communist rule in Europe had reached the point of no return. It was screened by the European culture channel ARTE a few months ago at the anniversary of two decades from the events. The timing was good and the main chance and value of the film is that it caught alive many of the protagonists of the drama that took place in 1989 and received direct testimonies from some of the heads of the former regime like Egon Krenz, Hans Modrow, Gunther Schabowski. No doubt that future documentaries will use the footage and especially the interviews.

Erich Honeker - source: www.knowledgerush.com

Although the end of the drama is well known, it is still amazing to get back in time in the last year of the German Democratic Republic ruled by Communists, to see and hear about a regime unable to cope with the reality, unwilling to talk and hear with its own people, caught in its own web of lies and propaganda, paralyzed and incapable to act. The focus of the film is on the individuals and the state and party apparatus that was leading the DDR. While some of the politicians at the top had at least a partial understanding of the problems of the country, there never was a real move towards reform and the change came too late and was thought as being too small in order to be able to save the system.

Egon Krenz - source: http://archiv.ddr-im-www.de

Some of the external aspects of the situation are less dealt in the film. While the relationship with the Soviet Union and the role of Mikhail Gorbachev is widely described, little is being said about the role played by Ronald Reagan’s United States or Kohl’s West Germany. The popular movement that started in the summer with the massive flux of refugees crossing the borders open in Hungary increased in intensity with the workers movements that shadowed the operatic festivities put together by Honecker at the 40th anniversary of the DDR, and culminated with the night of the fall of the wall and opening of free circulation in Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie the night the wall fell - source: Bundesarchiv

The documentary is well made, but relies too much on the interviews, and film footage leaving an impression of monotony. These were great events in the history of Germany and Europe, and more emotion would not have been out of place. The rare moments that break the routine are the ones when the human dimension of the principal players of the drama is caught on screen, The policeman who arrested Honecker tells the story of the omnipotent leader of yesterday reduced to his feeble human dimension. And then the final image on which the credits are run showing Egon Krenz, the last leader of the party and of the politburo standing in the plaza in the center of East Berlin while bulldozers tear down the monstrous building of the Palace of the Republic, the ugly architectural symbol of the deceased East Germany.

We used the last two punched holes in the subscription card for the Habima theater season to see the satirical cabaret show ‘Nifgaei Harada’ which was translated in the English page of the program to ‘Anxiety Struck’. Well, ‘Harada’ is a little more than just anxiety, it is closer to terror or shock which probably describes better the current mood and state of mind of the Israeli society. The authors of the texts in the show are B. Michael and Ephraim Sidon, and the director is Moti Kirschenbaum – all three were involved three and a half decades ago in the making of ‘Nikui Rosh’ (Head Cleaning, Brain-washing) – a cult satirical program which started a few years before Saturday Night Life and had shaken all the holy cows broke all established taboos of the Israeli society at a time of moral and political crisis similar to the one that faces today the Israeli society, establishing in the process the rules of freedom of expression that became standard – at least until now – in the Israeli culture and media.

How is ‘Anxiety Struck’ different from the many satirical programs we can see each week on the TV screens? The most important aspect is in my opinion the fact that there is no search or intention of neutrality. Free (or almost free) from the constraints of rating and the ‘objectivity’ rules of the broadcasting laws the authors of the texts do not perform any balancing act, they come from a clear and enrolled position, and what they perform on stage is politics at least at the same extent that it is art. By doing this they play as all satirical authors have always done with the borders of the ‘allowed’ in what concerns the political consensus (which they often cross) and with the limits of the good taste (which they seldom cross). Their saying is crisp, engaged, and leaves no doubt on what side they are and what situations they believe need to be fixed. If there are different opinions concerning the political aspects dealt with in the show one needs to go to a different show in a different hall to hear.

What about the artistic experience? Here my feelings are mixed. All the actors – Yael Leventhal, Dov Navon, Alon Neuman, Talli Oren, Tomer Sharon – are very good, they feel good in this genre and love doing it. The hall at Tzafta in Tel Aviv is however very challenging for anybody who sits beyond the very first rows, and we were not among the lucky ones last night. The sets are very uninspired, and so is the music, which is quite a surprise taking onto account that the author of the music score is Keren Peles, whose other works I have seen until now were always good and interesting. This I hope is just an unhappy event in the career of one of the best stage composers we have in Israel.

Satire in general is something the Israeli society needs badly in this moment. With the writings of Kishon and Levin in the back wind and with authors like Sidon and Michael, and even some of the text authors who write for TV shows there is hope that the tradition continues.  Can satire change the world, or help the world to change? We can hope so, says Moti Kirschenbaum in an interview in the show program, but then, we go to sleep and wake up in the morning, and realize that we are no more than the court clowns. Yes, but then, are there not the clown acts that are in many cases in history remembered as best representing their times?

Oded Lotan, an Israeli-born film-maker living in Germany dares to cope in this documentary film with one of the ‘holy cows’ concepts of the Jewish tradition – the circumcision. Interestingly, I did not notice or hear about this film having been screened in Israel until it was broadcast by the European culture TV channel ARTE, although most of it is filmed here.

Lotan starts by sharing his personal experience, which is very much about living abroad and being different, this being the starting point on a journey to seek the historic origins of the custom, as well as his own family history. His investigations go into two directions – one is a historical and demographic research which leads him to being aware that the custom is rather widely practiced in different parts of the globe because of religious or medical reasons.  More interesting are however the investigations he makes in Israel, questioning family, rabbis and mohels (the specialists who perform circumcision), people who oppose the tradition and chose not to follow it for their sons in a society where the ‘brith’ is norm, and people who approach it in an almost mystical manner.

There is no earth-shaking revelation for somebody who knows well the Israeli society and Jewish customs, yet the film is well made and the debate interesting and pleasant to watch because of the low-tone and humor of the commenter-hero-film-maker. The author is also openly gay, and his questioning of the circumcision adds taboo-breaking to taboo-breaking – without a tolerant and smooth approach the debate could have easily slid into controversy. The organization of the film in several short episodes ended by stop-frames transformed into graphics adds consistency and breaks the potential tension of the debate that could become too tense if taken too seriously. The interesting twist at the end of the film has the author aligning with the tradition, after questioning it all over the film. A final irony, taken in the same good spirit this whole documentary is being made.

I have found the film on YouTube, but it’s unfortunately only the German version. Here is the first episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1cw4GIlkMU

(video source ElectricFlattery)

galeria centrala din Ein Hod

Nu am avut sansa sa-l cunosc pe Tuvia Juster, asa incat expozitia deschisa astazi la galeria centrala din satul artistilor de la Ein Hod, locul in care a trait si creat Juster in ultimele decenii ale vietii sale a fost prima mea intalnire cu lucrarile sculptorului plecat dintre noi cu cinci ani in urma. Tuvia Juster (1931 – 2005) s-a nascut la Braila si a copilarit in Bucuresti si-a facut studiile la Institutul de Arte Plastice din capitala Romaniei, si a emigrat in Israel in 1959. Aici s-a consacrat ca artist si aici a devenit unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti sculptori ai Israelului. A ramas atasat insa si de tara sa de origine, pe care a revizitat-o de multe ori si unde in 2004 a aparut volumul al carui titlu da si numele actualei expozitii si care strange interviuri, note biografice si articole publicate de Juster in presa israeliana de limba romana.

Evenimentul a fost precedat de o comemorare la cimitir la care nu am ajuns sa particip. Vernisajul expozitiei s-a bucurat de participarea unui public destul de numeros, iar ceremonia de deschidere prezentata cu pricepere si caldura de Vlad Solomon a fost onorata de luarile de cuvant ale atasatului cultural al ambasadei Romaniei in Israel, de artisti, critici, prieteni si membrii ai familiei. Cele spuse s-au referit si la artist dar mai ales la Omul Tuvia Juster, o personalitate care avea se pare darul de a nu lasa indiferenti pe cei din jur, plecarea lui timpurie lasand un gol evident in viata celor care l-au cunoscut.

Expozitia insasi risca sa dezamageasca, si cei pentru care – ca mine – intalnesc pentru prima data cu aceasta ocazie lucrarile lui Juster risca sa primeasca o imagine ingusta a operei acestuia. In primul rand spatiul de expunere este mic, o singura sala si cea mai minuscula la capatul galeriei centrale din Ein Hod unde cele aproximativ 12 lucrari chiar daca sunt de dimensiuni nu prea mari nu au suficient spatu de respiratie si distantare pentru a permite o contemplare eficienta. O decizie ciudata care ma intreb daca este intentionata plaseaza o parte dintre lucrari pe socluri joase sau chiar la nivelul solului si nu pe socluri, obligand la o contemplare de sus in jos, ca spre niste plante ciudate rasarite din cimentul pardoselii. Oare de ce? Lipseste si materialul scris despre expozitia actuala, o lista a lucrarilor macar ar fi fost utila.

Un catalog al unei expozitii precedente pe care l-am cumparat la intrare arata imediat ca Juster a fost un sculptor mult mai multilateral, si cu o gama de expresie mult mai vasta decat reiese din lucrarile aflate in aceasta expozitie.  Din diversele medii in care a lucrat Juster aceasta expozitie se concentreaza pe lucrarile in piatra (Juster a lucrat si in lemn, si in metal printre altele), iar dimensiunile lucrarilor au fost alese pentru a se potrivi cu spatiul disponibil. Cu toate acestea si din ceea ce este expus am putut intelege ca Juster era un artist care stapanea bine tehnicile de insufletire a materialului in care lucra, care asimilase la perfectie lectiile marilor artisti ai secolului 20 si in special ale lui Brancusi si Moore, de la care pare sa plece in multe dintre lucrarile expuse, adaugand insa de fiecare data o nuanta sau un comentariu personal. Greu de dedus din putinele exponate daca exista un stil Juster care ar face ca sculpturile sale sa poata fi recunoscute imediat intr-o expozitie sau intr-un muzeu, dar este evidenta stapanirea mijloacelor de expresie si dialogul cu sculptura moderna a timpului sau.

Pe peretii expozitiei sunt expuse in traducere in ebraica si engleza citate din cartea lui Juster aparuta in original in romaneste. Doua dintre ele se refera la relatia intre artist pe de o parte, divinitate si traditie de cealalta parte, relatie care pare sa fi fost esentiala in modul de a gandi si de a crea al lui Tuvia Juster. El se exprima de altfel in cuvinte cu o indemanare de profesionist al cuvantului si nu numai al daltei. Am cautat si nu prea am gasit intre exponate ilustratii in materia sculptata care sa corespunda acestor cuvinte. Este poate inca un argument ca aceasta expozitie, initiativa salutara de comemorare la cinci ani de la trecerea in nefiinta a artistului, organizata in locul in care a trait si creat nu este suficienta pentru o cunoastere completa si profunda a creatiei sale. Este de sperat ca retrospectiva majora a operei sale va veni in viitor.

I fail to get enthusiastic about ‘Up in the Air’. It may be because corporate life is no strange thing to me, it may be because romantic comedies or professional dramas are not my piece of cake, it may be because I was starting to develop so high expectations about George Clooney that seeing a film where he is just good, and not better than in a previous one comes as a disappointment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7k6FwXJhNk

(video source TrailersUpdate)

Or maybe it is the subject. Firing people from their jobs (‘terminating’ theme as the euphemism goes in this film) is no laughing matter and even if it was unavoidable that it becomes subject to a major movie some day, the intermingling of this theme with a few other (like life of the big corporate travelers addicted to their frequent fliers programs, or the romantic them of the eternal bachelor facing mid-life crisis and catching the opportunity to make a change towards the conventional track) did not really work to me. The story of corporate job terminator Bingham (Clooney) facing the termination or at least radical change of his own job because of the appearance in his own company of rookie Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who tries to revolutionize the business endangering his jet style of life, while his personal life seems to be at pick when he meets his female mirrored image in Alex (Vera Famiga) combines several conventional threads, and cannot make out of the combination an original movie.

(video source Qtv)

I do not have anything special to say about director Jason Reitman does most of the time – he does a fair job but having Clooney in the lead role is like coaching a soccer team with Messi in the opening squad. Actually Clooney although well cast does not do anything special, he just plays his own role – enough for a good performance, disappointing if we consider how well he changed skins in most of his films lately. Famiga is OK, and only Anna Kendrick succeeds to break the ranks and to bring to skin an emotional ingenue which crosses the screen in a sincere interpretation.

(video by mdelar)

The best part of the film are the one shot scenes of people being fired. It is here that Reitman had his touch of genius. He put an add in a St. Louis newspaper and gather real people who lost their jobs recently, and enacted their feelings and emotions in the moments when they received the hit for the camera. These are the moments when we feel the true life, these are the scenes when we can understand the dramas that take place at the personal level, part of the bigger picture drama of the economic crisis that engulfed America. This is actually the best cinema in this film, the rest is just Hollywood wrapping.

Documentarul lui Alexandru Solomon iese in aceasta saptamana pe ecranele romanesti. Delia Marc l-a vazut in avanpremiera si a scris o cronica detaliata si inspirata insotita de fise documentare ale principalilor ‘eroi’ pe care a publicat-o la http://filme-carti.ro/filme/kapitalism-reteta-noastra-secreta-2010-6364. Multe nu am de adaugat la cele scrise de ea, voi face  doar cateva observatii personale.

(video source Kapitalism2010)

Versiunea pe care am vazut-o eu a fost transmisa pe ARTE in jurul datei de 1 decembrie 2009, la 20 de ani de la rasturnarea regimului comunist din Romania. Este vorba se pare de o versiune prescurtata, de numai vreo 60 de minute a filmului care va apare pe ecranele romanesti in zilele urmatoare. Banuiesc ca structura filmului a fost pastrata, dar unele dintre episoade au fost omise.

Regizorul Alexandru Solomon face si el in acest film un bilant – este vorba despre bilantul a doua decenii de capitalism romanesc. Cel care este ‘invitat’ sa faca bilantul nu este altul decat dictatorul executat in decembrie 1989. Ce ar fi, se intreaba autorii filmului, daca Ceausescu ar ateriza in aeronava sa prezidentiala cunoscuta din atatea telejurnale pre-decembriste si cosmaruri post-decembriste intr-o ‘vizita de lucru’ in Romania de astazi? Teza cu care autorii filmului incearca sa-si conduca audienta este ca dictatorul nu ar fi chiar atat de mirat. In definitiv, cei care conduc astazi Romania au preluat de la vechiul regim o parte dintre metodele si au folosit banii acumulati de capurile vechiului regim si structurile sale politice si de represiune. Mentalitatile au ramas si ele aceleasi, dar in cadrul acestui proces a fost distrusa infrastructura (justificata economic sau nu) si au fost sleite resursele naturale ale tarii.

Cinematografic filmul este impartit in episoade, care fiecare dintre ele poate fi considerat un portret al unuia dintre maganatii noi ai Romaniei de astazi. Majoritatea dintre ei par sa fi colaborat de buna voie dand interviuri detaliate, expunandu-si biografiile si istoria succesului lor. Intre episoade segmente de legatira in stilul filmelor animate ale anilor 70 sau 80, concepute cu umor si intarind in mod grafic ideile expuse in comentariul vorbit. Daca atmosfera generala a filmului si atitudinea explicit tezista amintesc filmele lui Michael Moore, interludiile echilibreaza si balanseaza tonul general si acorda filmului tolnul de detasare si umorul necesar pentru o asimilare mai usoara a materialului documentar care altfel nu ar fi usor la vizionare.

Cu tot ambalajul estetic mesajul filmului este profund pesimist si judecata starii in care se afla astazi Romania, si mai ales a varfurilor puterii financiare si economice a tarii deosebit de aspra. Si totusi, chiar daca concluzia la prima vedere este ceva de genul ca nimic nu s-a schimbat, nu in bine in orice caz, ceva totusi cred ca s-a schimbat. Un film ca cel al lui Alexandru Solomon nu ar fi pututu niciodata fi realizat si difuzat pe vremea vechiului regim.

Cu o saptamana in urma, de Ziua Holocaustului am adus pe blog o lista a unora dintre filmele remarcabile pe tema Holocaustului, asa cum erau ele vazute de criticii ziarului Yediot Aharonot. Din lista facea parte si ‘Gradinile Finzi-Contini’ a lui Vittorio de Sica, adaptarea uneia dintre cele mai emotionante carti despre Holocaust si despre Italia pe care am citit-o, apartinand lui Giorgio Bassani, Delia Marc a revazut filmul in aceasta saptamana si a avut bunavointa sa-mi permita publicarea impresiilor ei dupa vizionare.

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GRADINILE FINZI CONTINI (1970)

(Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)

Coproductie italo-germana

Regia : Vittorio de Sica

Scenariul : Giorgio Bassani – romanul omonim, Vittorio Bonicelli

Imaginea: Enno Guarnieri

Muzica originala: Manuel de Sica

Distributia:Lino Capolicchio, Dominique Sanda, Fabio Testi, Ramolo Valli, Helmut Berger

De duminică seara – 11 aprilie, a început în Israel comemorarea anuală a celor 6 milioane de evrei (dintre care 1,5 milioane de copii) omorâţi în mod planificat de către nazişti în cea mai neagră perioadă a omenirii (Ziua Holocaustului sau Yom Ha’Shoah).

Statul Israel a ales să comemoreze Ziua Holocaustului 8 zile înainte de Ziua Independenţei! Comemorarea Zilei Holocaustului a început la ora 20.00 printr-o ceremonie oficială care a avut loc la muzeul Yad VaShem din Ierusalim, în spaţiul dedicat Ghetoului din Varşovia. Şase lumânări au fost aprinse în memoria celor 6 milioane de evrei masacraţi de nazişti.
Pe 12 aprilie, Luni dimineaţa, la ora 10.00 sirena a sunat pe tot teritoriul statului Israel şi toată populaţia si-a încetat orice activitate, rămânând în poziţie de drepţi şi păstrând tăcere timp de 2 minute, în memoria victimelor Holocaustului. După încetarea sirenei, la Yad VaShem s-au depus jertbe de flori şi în sala Yizkor (Rugaciunea in memoria disparutilor) a inceput citirea numelor tuturor victimelor, ceremonie care a continuat până seara.
Ziua memorială a Holocaustului este comemorata în Israel pe data de 27 a lunii ebraice Nissan (2 mai 2000). Printr-o hotărâre a Knessetului (Parlamentul israelian) din 1951, a fost aleasă această zi care cade intre data revoltei din ghetoul Varşoviei, începută în prima zi de Pesach, şi Ziua memorială a Israelului pentru soldaţii morţi în luptele pentru statul Israel. Ziua Holocaustului cade în perioada tradiţională de doliu a numărătorii de Omer.


Vizionarea ecranizarii romanului autobiografic a lui Giorgio Bassani a venit pentru mine ca o inscriere fireasca in acest remember si aceasta comemorare.

Am citit in tinerete romanul si in zadar l-am cautat zilele acestea in biblioteca; probabil face parte dintre acele multe carti imprumutate „prietenilor” si pastrate de catre acestia in vesnica custodie.

Giorgio Bassani

Am pastrat multi ani in amintire tulburatoarea impresie pe care mi-a facut-o romanul si de curand, citind „Cu cele mai rele intentii”, al lui Alessandro Piperno (publicat in 2008 la Editura Humanitas Fiction – colectia Raftul Denisei), mi-am reconsolidat cateva idei privind impactul fascismului asupra comunitatii evreilor italieni si atitudinea acestora, circumscrisa atitudinii si soartei evreilor din toate tarile apusene.

Si filmul vine sa semnaleze si sa sublinieze aceasta atitudine – in conjunctura anilor 30 si 40 din secolul deja trecut.

Este atitudinea aristocratiei, dar si a clasei de mijloc evreiesti, asimilata puternic in societatea italiana a vremii, lovita drastic de asa zisele „legi rasiale” promulgate inca din 1938 de catre guvernul fascist al lui Benito Mussolini; atitudine care le impiedica sa sesizeze pericolul ororilor inumane ce vor urma, le paralizeaza spiritul de autoaparare si initiativa unei actiuni de salvare. O atitudine de respingere a inevitabilului, apoi o atitudine de acceptare a implacabilului, de izolare aristocratica sub paza efemera a zidurilor gradiniilor reale sau imaginare, o evadare in amintirile calde si confortabile ale experientelor si emotiile copilariei senine, o evadare in carti si studiu individual.


Familia Finzi Contini nu-si abandoneaza niciodata domeniul, membrii ei traiesc in propriile iluzii privind lumea, locul si importanta lor in ordinea acestei lumi; de altfel si membrii familiei tanarului Giorgio – apartinand burgheziei medii comerciale se scalda in aceleasi iluzii, ei cred ca „nu o duc prea rau aici, mai pot fi cetateni, desi – de rangul 3”. „Intotdeauna au fost putine drepturi pentru toata lumea, iar evreii au tacut cat timp nu au fost loviti”. Iluzii, iluzii, iluzii… Citesc Cocteau, joaca tenis, se grabesc sa isi sustina licenta inainte sa apara o lege care sa decreteze ca si literatura e „ariana”, filozofeaza sterp – „noi italienii – in ce trebuie sa ne punem sperantele?” – fara sa sesizeze ca deja nu mai sunt considerati italieni, ci numai „evrei” – „murdaria rasei umane”.

Maturitatea le-a batut la usa sufletului tinerilor din Ferrara, ei insa continua sa evadeze in trecut, in copilarie, in idilismul si romantismul lipsit de griji al unor vremuri confuze. Misterul unei iubiri naive si neimpartasite de catre Micol, este o capcana pentru Giorgio, il impiedica sa observe realitatea cruda din jur, il ingroapa in seductia propriilor sentimente si cuvintele tatalui sau, incarcate de experienta vietii il ajuta sa-si inteleaga starea si sa o depaseasca: „Inteleg ce simti si te invidiez, e ca si cum ai muri, dar in viata, pentru a intelege cu adevarat lumea, trebuie sa mori macar o data…asa ca mai bine sa mori tanar, cat inca mai ai timp ca sa te poti reface si sa-ti traiesti din nou viata, la batranete e mai greu”… „In timp, e mai bine asa, caci s-ar fi terminat dezastruos, Finzi-Contini nu-s de nasul nostru”.

Realitatea intervine insa brusc si devastator, „evenimentul istoric” proclamat de catre Il Duce, intrarea Italiei fasciste in razboi alaturi de Germania nazista sparge linistea si refugiul casnic iluzoriu al eroilor. Acum nu se mai pune problema acceptarii restrictiilor sociale si economice impuse evreilor: excluderea din invatamant, excluderea din organizatiile profesionale si sociale, interzicerea casatoriile mixte, interzicereaservitorilor arieni, excluderea din biblioteci, din locuri publice… Italia nu mai este o familie pentru evrei. Viitorul este sumbru pentru „negrii”. Acum apar masinile politiei care pe baza listelor mortii ii ridica pe evrei, iar destinatia lor este pentru inceput – Dachau – unde ii asteapta „un hotel in padure, cu serviciile asigurate de catre SS – renumiti pentru ospitalitatea lor”. Intercalarea imaginilor de arhiva cinematografica, ale soldatilor armatei hitleriste, defiland in pas de gasca sub ochii lacrimosi de emotie al Fuhrerului cheama spre luciditate, rupe vraja idilica a gradinii fermecate a domeniului Finzi Contini.

Pentru Giorgio este limita, zidul Gradinilor Finzi Contini cad si sub surparea lui este ingropata tradarea iubirii sale de catre Micol, tradarea prieteniei lui Malnate, tradarea societatii italiene subjugate de fascism. Giorgio se salveaza de tavalugul ororilor care se abat asupra celorlalti eroi ai filmului. Familia Finzo Contini, nedezmeticindu-de inca, inchisi ermetic in scoica sidefie a conditiei lor socio-istorica, ridicati de Politia fascista italiana, isi asteapta soarta cruda, in liniste, aliniata printre ceilalti coreligionari, pe bancile scolii. Si privirea lui Micol se indreapta in zare, pe fereastra, proiectandu-si pe zidurile din departare, imaginile feerice ale vietii idilice din Gradinile Finzi Contini, unde ea, fratele ei si Giorgio, jucau tenis, liberi, tineri, fericiti, nestiutori. Lacrimi in ochii ei, un fel de pace interioara – cu ea, cu lumea si cu Dumnezeu, memoria respinge suferinta (pe care nici acum nu o intelege) si apeleaza la un trecut in care se refugiaza. Totul, pe fundalul sfasietor al „el male rahamim” – rugaciunea rituala pentru morti.

Vittorio de Sica

Probabil ca numai Vittorio de Sica ar fi putut realiza acest film, in maniera sa artistica inconfundabila, puternic social-politica si intens senzuala, care transmite perfect ideile si sentimentimentele centrale ale romanului lui Giorgio Bassani. Si a reusit sa transmita toata neintelegerea si pasivitatea in fata inevitabilului, caracteristice unei mare mase a evreimii din Europa „civilizata”. Si a reusit sa dea acestei transpuneri cinematografice un ritm si o culoare aparte, de apreciat este imaginea lui Enno Gurneri, a carui camera de filmat surprinde caldura si frumusetea Gradinilor Finzi Contini atat vara – cu florile sale colorate si potecile umbrite de batranii copaci, dar si iarna sub zapada alba purificatoare, dar surprinde si in prim planuri inspirate, figurile frumoase, pure si tinere ale eroilor ferrarezi.

Dominique Sanda – frumoasa si astazi – dupa scurgerea a peste un sfert de secol de la realizarea acestui film este deosebit de fascinanta si enigmatica, rece si mandra de securitatea pe care i-o da originea sa aristocratica, preocuparile sale literare, intangibilitatea de care s-a bucurat familia sa timp de secole, in spatele zidurilor gradinii edenice. Superbii sai ochi albastri spun insa, fara cuvinte, in scena finala, posibilitatea intelegerii adevarului istoric al carei victima este.

Lino Capolicchio este un Giorgio veridic, care a gasit, sub bagheta lui Vittorio de Sica, talentul si resursele necesare pentru a exprima framantarile tanarului pus in fata unei iubiri neimpartasite, dar si ale tanarului evreu confruntat cu problematica sociala si politica a epocii. De altfel, cariera lui este prolifica, a jucat si sub bagheta lui Zefirelli si printre altele, l-am putut urmari si in serialul La Piovra.

Iar coloana sonora a filmului – muzica originala Manuel de Sica, fiul lui Vittorio de Sica , nascut in anul 1949 (a fost nominalizat la Oscar si are la activ peste 71 de filme lucrate) vine sa completeze in mod fericit reusita acestuia, caci este sobra si firesc emotionanta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di1PABZQRKw

(video source fenderiko63)

In anul 1971 Vittorio de Sica a primit Ursul de Aur pentru acest film – la festivalul de film de la Berlin.

In anul 1972, Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini a castigat Oscarul la sectiunea Best Foreign Language Film, iar in anul 1973, Manuel de Sica a primit Premiul Grammy pentru Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.

(video source eitantoon)

Desi la o distanta de 40 de ani de la realizarea filmului, el este la fel de proaspat si astazi, atat din punct de vedere al temei tratate, cat si al mijloacelor cinematografice utilizate

Nota acordata: 10/10

As the evening fell over the Memorial Day we live again the transition – so specific to the Israeli life – between mourning and joy, between contemplation and jubilation and we enter the Independence Day. It’s a good opportunity to remember the events that happened 62 years ago and the words of David Ben-Gurion which marked the apparition of the Jewish state on the map of the world, words which are still the basic act of foundation of the nation, as well as the guiding principles of the existence of the State of Israel.

(video source SchlichimMetrowest)

The ceremony that marks the end of the Memorial Day and the start of the Independence Day ends with the singing of the national anthem – HaTikvah (The Hope).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1I6d0OTSOA

(video source davy1031)

Here is a fragment of the comment that accompanies the song on YouTube.

‘Israel’s national anthem sung by Enrico Macias. The poem was written by the Zionist Naftali Herz Imber in 1877 in Iaşi, Romania. In 1882 he moved to Palestine where he continued working on his poetry in 1886 he published his first book of poems one of them was “Tikvateinu,” which soon after became the Jewish anthem. The book was entitled “Barkai” (“Morning Star”) and was published and printed in Jerusalem!’

I noticed the title of the book that first contained the poem. A few years before the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu who lived much of his active life in the same city as Imber, Iasi, had published his most famous poem ‘Luceafarul’, a masterpiece of the Romanian literature. The translation of the name of the poem is ‘The Evening Star’. When Imber publishes his first book in Hebrew after arriving in Palestine he names the book ‘The Morning Star’. A coincidence?

(video source antons81)

And yes – the fireworks are part of the festivities. Above you can see a clip showing the fireworks in Tel Aviv last year.

Let the celebrations begin.

Happy Birthay, Israel!

Tonight, at 8PM starts the Israel Memorial Day – the day that commemorates the Israeli soldiers fallen in the wars and military actions in the defense of Israel, and the victims of the terror attacks against Israel and Israelis. For the people of Israel and for their friends.it’s a day of reflection and a day of remembrance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdtJfvXrQI&feature=related

(video source lvisser87)

It is the day when all that divides us should be put apart. We, Israelis, may differ in customs and place of birth, in the ways we pray or the ways we honor the tradition of our people, in the ways of life and in our political opinions – tonight and tomorrow we are united in the respect we pay to those who have made the supreme sacrifice so that we can live free in our country.

(video source adm613)

The clips below show some aspects of the ceremonies that take place each year in Jerusalem on Memorial Day. The opening ceremony takes place at the Western Wall, the last remain of the Temple that once stood in the center of the Jewish capital. The next morning cemeteries in the whole country fill in with the relatives and comrades of the fallen soldiers with the central ceremony taking place in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.

(video source ionisraelMedia)

(video source ionisraelMedia)

At 11AM on Memorial Day the sirens in the whole country sound for two minutes. All traffic and all activities stop, and the whole nation stands in silence, in respect for the fallen.

(video source EverywhereTrip)

Then, at evening, the closing ceremony marks the end of Memorial Day and the of the festivities of the Israel Independence Day. This is life in Israel – sorrow and joy coming together, mourning is followed by the celebration of national freedom.