Entries tagged with “Dan Pita”.


The success of the Romanian cinema in the last decade or so did not spring up from nothing. Although the cinema in Romania was more strictly censored and controlled by propaganda during the Communist period, a handful of talented directors existed and they made a few good or at least decent films in a difficult ideological environment, with very little technical means. One of these directors was . Something strange happened though with him and most of the film directors in his generation after 1990. With some exceptions they seem to not have been able to use to the best the freedom of expression (political and stylistic) or to adapt to the technical progress that became soon and fast available. Many of their films seem to be stoned in the past, repeating mistakes and perpetuating stereotypes that belong to a different era. Pita’s Kira Kiralina is a good example on this respect – a cinematographic failure on almost any respect.

 

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2497852/

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2497852/

 

Kira Kiralina brings to screen a story by – a writer of Romanian origin who charmed the French readers in the 1920s with his stories of passion and brigands located in the the North of the Balkans and especially in the cosmopolitan area of the last hundreds of kilometers of the Danube course before reaching the Black Sea. It’s a fascinating zone, a land of legends and passions which could be the stage of great stories and movies. The problem with the script written by  and the screen version of  is that they did not create a cinematographic vision parallel to Istrati’s text, but rather chose the easy path of having a screen character read the story off-screen and what we see on screen is kind of an illustration of this reading. If we put together the scenes where the main character remembers and reads loudly the episodes of his childhood and troubled teens age, we probably get many minutes with the actor smoking and writing on the same sheet of paper. Such techniques are maybe fit to TV theater or low cost TV dramas, but not to big screen movies. Story telling is broken, more an exemplification of the monotone reading of the book text. Characters are introduced by the voice of the story teller and not but what they achieve themselves on screen. Some of the action scenes are a complete failure, like the dramatic shooting between the sadistic father of the two kids, and the brothers of the mother, or the revenge scene taking place a few years later.

 

(video source RollerCoaster PR)

 

The cinematography of a few of the scenes (filmed out-doors) and the exceptional costumes (designed by Oana Paunescu ) offer a glimpse of what this movie could have been. Unfortunately, they are just exceptions and the overall conception fails to provide a credible description of the world at the mouths of the Danube at the end of the 19th century and of the heroes created by Panait Isrtrati. The orthography even of the name of the film (‘Kira Kiralina’) is different in the distribution from the one of the poster (‘Kyra Kyralina’) and for some reason unknown to me different from the one used in the Romanian versions of the book (‘Chira Chiralina’). Actors work is irrelevant, they all seem stiff on screen, fresh newcomer faces as well as the known Romanian actors in the cast. The very last two scenes of the film (even if one of them us too verbose) happen after the story teller task was completed, and they give a hint of what this film could have been if a different approach was chosen. It’s too little and too late.

 

‘Eu sunt Adam!’ (‘I am Adam!’) is a 1001 nights story that takes place in the inferno. The role of Seherazada is played by a professor of music in the 1950s, the years of the worst repression under the Communist rule, the years when people just disappeared from the streets swallowed into hell by black cars, investigated and condemned for imaginary reasons by a regime that after having liquidated physically its enemies had to search permanently for new ones in order to justify the existence of its institutions of repression, inventing  victims among its intellectuals and later from the rows of its own supporters. His stories are first the subject of the curiosity of a high Communist dignitary, but they soon trigger the curiosity and then the cruelty of the secret police, especially after the fall of his highly placed protector. Adam tries to protect himself and to gain time by inventing stories that meld fantasy and reality, past and present, magic and real but he soon is swallowed by the very fuzzy substance of the stories he is telling. The only reality he gets back to is the one of terror and repression and the price he will pay is eventually the one of his own sanity.

 

source http://www.cinemagia.ro/filme/eu-sunt-adam-eu-sunt-adam-4575/imagini/

 

Director and script writer Dan Pita built the stories and the dreams of Adam from a collection of stories written by the Romanian-born historian of religions Mircea Eliade during his youth in Romania in the 1930s. Eliade who flew to the West after the war to never return to Romania was placed at index during much of the Communist rule years to be fully recuperated after the fall of the Communism when this film was made. The short stories the film is based constitute the basic substance of the film, a mix of stories from the fringes of the Romanian inter-wars society with gates that open permanently to the unknown, with openings to sensuality but also to the moral questions that torment the hero to the same extent as the physical tortures he is put to by his tormentors.

(video source TorianExperience)


The narrative structure of the film is not easy to follow, and may be confusing especially for viewers who know nothing about the literature of Eliade or about Romanian history. Yet the gates into unknown and the fantastic elements do not necessarily demand rigorous explanation, so I would recommend rather a viewing and reading a la David Lynch. When Adam tells the stories about past the juxtaposition is not only between reality and fantastic but also between profane and sacred, and between the tern reality of a country fallen under Communist rule and a past where dreaming and fantasizing were still possible. The main role is played by Stefan Iordache, one of the greatest Romanian actors (unfortunately he died a few years ago) and his creation dominates the film and is one of the best in his career. The final tragic mask, maybe the mask of insanity is the protection of last resort, the only one left when all other defenses, including fantastic have failed.

(video source TorianExperience)

The quality of the cinematography is unfortunately poor as the film was made a few years before Romanian cinema acquired the technical means for good quality films. Yet, there is a lot to watch in the camera movements, as Dan Pita was at the time he made this film a director who eventually freed from the constraints of the cinematography had the opportunity to make the films he always dreamed to. From an esthetic and creative point of view ‘Eu sunt Adam!’ is one of his best.

 

I am surprised how little known this film is. Although it was made by Dan Pita, one of the well-known Romanian directors, and one of the few who made quality films during the Romanian Communist era, it does not seem to be considered as one of his best films. There is little information about the film on the Internet, and even the IMDB entry tells almost nothing. I saw it by chance on one of the Romanian satellite TV stations, and it was from many points of view a revelation.

source cinemarx.ro

The film is made in 1994, and is set at that time of ‘transition’ a wild process of awakening and confusion the whole Romanian society went through. The Bucharest I knew (having left Romania ten years earlier) was almost gone, streets filled not only with all kinds of dubious street commerce stands, but people also running awoke and fighting to survive in a world of confusion where old rules do not exists any longer and new ones are yet to be written. The trio of young people who are the heroes of the film learn to live and survive in this strange world. They may be the unwanted ‘children of the decree’ which was forbidding abortions in Communist Romania, they may be among the ones who took the streets in 1989 to overturn the dictatorship. Now brothers Pepe (Cristian Iacob – kind of a Romanian version of Brad Pitt) and Fifi (Irina Movila – with beautiful eyes of Tautou intensity) must sustain the family by boxing or becoming a night bird, both getting involved with the underground new Mafia world, both trying to keep their innocence in a world that has forgotten the meaning of the word. The third hero of the triangle is the crippled friend played by Mihai Calin, the fixer for the life of other who cannot fix his own life, the shouter of truth with the megaphone on the streets of the city.

Dan Pita - source www.mediafax.ro

In the Romanian cinema space this film may be lost some place in between the pre-89 and post-89 generation. Truth is that none of the well-known directors of the pre-89 generation – neither Pita, but also not other like Daneliuc or even Pintilie did not succeed to make any great films after 1990. They did however pave the way to the successes of the ‘new wave’ – the minimalist (as some call it) Romanian neo-realism that conquered the festival scenes after 2003. This film has however qualities that stand by themselves. The trio of young actors give emotional performances and make us care about themselves. The reality that is being caught on screen is a snapshot of the 1994 Bucharest the way it was. There is little ballast from the old-style metaphoric and mannerist cinema, but also some strong metaphors that are hard to forget. By the end of the film the two surviving heroes run through a a dark and enclosed labyrinth with no way out in view. Somehow they find the exit, and they run out in the fresh air, just to freeze in disorientation, blinded by the light of a world they do not know how to cope with.