Entries tagged with “Lucian Pintilie”.

The 60s was the decade of hope in the history of Communist Romania. After the frozen 50s which had seen the pick of the repression but also the death of Stalin, the grip of the Communist rule seemed to slowly soften on Eastern Europe. Since the first years of the decade the Romanian leader Gheorghiu-Dej had set the country on what seemed to be an independent path from the Soviet Union, and when he died in 1965 the younger successor seemed for the first few years to continue on the same path. Culture seemed to renew the continuity with the tradition broken by censorship and the strict ideological rules of socialist-realism. Theater was one of the arts flourishing in this decade, especially in Bucharest, although extremely interesting theater was also made in Ploiesti, Piatra Neamt, Targu Mures. In cinema, for the first time a Romanian director received an important prize in Cannes. The name of the director was Liviu Ciulei, and he also was the manager of the ‘Municipal’ or ‘Bulandra’ theater, the best in Bucharest.


source http://theactingcompany.org/about/alumni/directors


For one decade the Bulandra Theater was the symbol of inventiveness in continuity, of courage and emotion on stage. Ciulei himself directed memorable performances that I remember until today – ‘The 12th Night’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘Leonce and Lena’, ‘Danton’. Each of his stagings were an event, he seemed to read every text in a different way anybody else had read it before, to discover secret meanings, to create a world of magic and beauty on screens. Actors became under his direction wizards and exceeded what they had ever believed themselves to be able to do on stage. He also brought aboard some of the best younger directors and mentored among other Lucian Pintilie, the other great name of the Romanian theater. The saga of the Bulandra theater is told in this article from Observatorul Cultural – http://www.observatorcultural.ro/Cu-ginduri-si-cu-imagini-Liviu-Ciulei-%287-iulie-1923-25-octombrie-2011%29*articleID_26083-articles_details.html


(video source magiclamp122)


After all promises of the 60s were broken and Romania turned back to progress and liberalization at the begining of the 70s, Ciulei was sacked from the direction of the theater and as many other creators he took the road of exile working for almost two decades exclusively in the West.  The New York Times dedicated to the Romanian director an obituary which pays respect to the man of theater and film and also provides more information about Ciulei’s career after he left Romania - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/arts/liviu-ciulei-daring-theater-director-dies-at-88.html?_r=2&hpw. It ends with the following:

“The most beautiful scene I have ever directed in my career is the last scene of ‘Padurea Spanzuratilor,’ ” he said. “We see a young peasant woman preparing the last meal for the man she loves who is sentenced to death by hanging — a man, a woman, bread, salt and wine, love, life and death.”

Unfortunately I could not find this scene on youTube. Yet I keep it in memory as many other of his creations, especially in theater. The unique magic of the true theater moments on stage continue to live in the heart of the viewers who shared them.

In his book 4 Decades, 3 Years and 2 Months with the Romanian Cinema the Romanian film critic Alex Leo Serban considers Duminica la ora 6 (Sunday at 6 o’clock) as an extreme case of difference between content and form – a story about the invented ‘heroic’ Communist past wrapped in the most modern means of expression of the cinema of the 60s. After having seen the film again many decades after its first viewings my feeling is different. I believe that Lucian Pintilie‘s first film is as daring in content and especially in its subliminal message as it is in its form which clearly shows already the hand of a skilled director, having learned and assimilated all the lessons of the French New Wave and placing them in the service of his cinematographic message.

source http://www.cinemarx.ro/filme/Duminica-la-ora-6-Duminica-la-ora-6-68949.html

I see Duminica la ora 6 as a beautiful love story in impossible times,  a story that can happen under any repressive regime. The art of director Pintilie is brilliant in the pacing of the action using repetitive motives (the elevator going down, the dark tunnel leading to an uncertain light which can mean deliverance or death) and in the way he directs his actors (Dan Nutu and Irina Petrescu, young, beautiful, sincere, frightened, desperate). A few scenes are worth being included in anthologies, like the ambiguous end with the run of the hero filmed from the windows of the police car, his tentative to run away towards the deep sea, his so human giving up. All is natural and well directed, with the sole exception of the few sequences were the ‘bourgeois’ police appears and the few lines of dialog which were inserted to please the censorship by locating the action in the fabricated history of the Communist resistance. Seen 45 years after the film making the contrast is too flagrant to avoid the feeling that this scenes where visibly inserted by the director (and maybe script author Ion Mihaileanu) to make the film pass and see the lights of screening – but the language is so different that they look intentionally out of context. My impression is also enforced by the very ‘modern’ look of the heroes and extras, which avoid localization and historical dating, inviting the viewers to consider the heroes contemporary to their own times, and to live the story in the present and not in the past. Again, for a director with the level of skill that Pintilie was already showing at that time, this cannot be coincidental.

Made in the year 1965, a year of crossroads in the Romanian history, the start of a short period of hope at the beginning of the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu, Duminica la ora 6 could have signaled a new start for the Romanian cinema which was still forced to use the vocabulary and thematic of the socialist-realist art but was daring to dream to new forms and freedom of expression. The political and artistic hopes were to fade out soon, and Duminica la ora 6 remains one of the few singular moments in a history of Romanian cinema whose destiny was to get back to its natural course only many decades later.

Exista un risc in a revedea dupa 40 de ani un film care ti-a ramas in memorie ca o capodopera. Pentru mine si multi dintre cei din generatia mea ‘Reconstituirea’ a fost nu numai cel mai bun film romanesc al tuturor timpurilor, dar si un protest cinematografic unic al anilor firavului dezghet politic din Romania sfarsitului anilor 60 si un film de cult. Am fost printre putinii si inspiratii spectatori care au apucat sa vada filmul in cele cateva saptamani ale proiectarii sale la cinematograful ‘Luceafarul’ din Bucuresti, inainte ca cenzura sa-l confiste si sa-l ingroape in sertare vreme de doua decenii. Il percepusem atunci ca pe un film al generatiei mele, iar eroii sai abia iesiti din adolescenta spre un viitor confuz capatasera in timp dimensiuni de mit si destine paralele cu cele ale eroilor lui Easy Rider, film pe care aveam sa-l vad mult mai tarziu, dupa ce iesisem la libertate, dar despre care ne povestea Cornel Chiriac la microfonul Europei Libere. Dupa trecerea deceniilor si vizionarea ambelor filme aveam sa realizez ca paralela pe care o intuiam nu era gresita. Iesite pe ecrane in acelasi an, 1969, Reconstituirea si Easy Rider au avut destine complet diferite. Ele au fost insa fiecare reprezentative pentru tinerii acelor generatii si pentru destinele lor. Eroii jucati de Hopper si Peter Fonda ar fi putut fi eroii jucati de Gaitan si Mihaita daca s-ar fi nascut intr-o alta constelatie, in Romania.

(video source McGuywer)

Sansa face ca adolescentul care eram atunci sa fi citit nuvela care se afla la originea Reconstituirii pe pagina a opta a revistei ‘Luceafarul’ cu vreo doi ani inainte de aparitia filmului.  Un foarte interesant interviu al scenaristului Horia Patrascu http://informatia.dntcj.ro/1999Sep14/mate08.html aduce informatii despre geneza filmului, despre receptarea sa de catre spectatori si autoritati si despre diferitii regizori care nu s-au incumentat sa faca acest film pana cand el a ajuns in mainile lui Lucian Pintile.  Sunt confirmate multe dintre cele pe care atunci poate doar le ghiceam sau intuiam. Dupa parerea mea filmul lui Pintilie capata la revizionare multe alte noi dimensiuni, are o prospetime si o profunzime care il fac sa stea la loc de cinste alaturi de creatiile unui Wajda, Polanski, Szabo sau Forman din aceeasi perioada. Cu un singur film, vai, foarte putin cunoscut in lume, Pintilie punea cinematografia romana a anilor 60 cel putin calitativ pe acelasi plan cu scoli intregi ale cinematografiei est-europeene.

(video source kalberto16)

Nu am gasit in cele citite de mine pana acum nicio referire la cealalta Reconstituire – infamul film al lui Virgil Calotescu, facut la comanda Securitatii in 1960 pentru a reconstitui jaful bancii nationale, caruia Alexandru Solomon i-a dedicat Marele Jaf Comunist. Si totusi mi se pare imposibila coincidenta, nu numai in nume ci si in tema, caci filmul lui Pintilie contine acelasi gen de film in film, aceeasi tema a reconstituirii fortate a unor fapte incriminate de sistem, a deformarii realitatii in scopul propagandei. Aceasta dimensiune a creatiei in conditiile lipsei de libertate si critica implicita dar acerba a irealismului socialist, a artei pusa in slujba minciunii este unul dintre noile aspecte care devin vizibile la revedere. Doar ca in timp ce filmul lui Calotescu era o jalnica producta propagandistica facuta la comanda, Pintilie are curajul sa spuna in filmul sau adevarul. Filmul lui Pintilie ‘de fictiune’ este filmul adevarat, cel al lui Calotescu este facatura ‘educativa’ filmata in teama cu pistolul la tampla. Satira groasa a sistemului gaunos lipsit de adevar si a actorilor sai traindu-si dramele reale sau meschine in spatele miticismului si al vorbelor fara fond pare sa capete mai multa profunzime si in perpectiva filmului mai tarziu al lui Pintilie De ce trag clopotele, Mitica. Minunata combinatie a trei generatii de actori de la dureros de tinerii pe atunci Gaitan, Mihaita si Ileana Popovici, cu George Constantin intr-un rol care pare sa includa in el esenta regimului comunist si a sujbasilor sai si cu Emil Botta intr-unul din cele mai tragice roluri ale carierei sale si ale cinematografiei romane continua sa produca acelasi efect spectatorilor ca si in ziua inexistentei premiere a filmului. Atentia la detaliu, stilul firesc si uman in care Pintilie isi dirijeaza actorii si in care aduce pe ecran dialogurile si situatiile imaginate de scenarist fac din acest film un document unic si o descriere sincera si adevarata a epocii. In cele 100 de minute ale sale Reconstituirea lui Pintilie contine premizele a tot ceea ce generatiile de cineasti nascuti multi dintre ei dupa realizarea acestui film vor reincepe sa construiasca trei decenii mai tarziu, atunci cand cinematografia romana va iesi la lumina.

It is interesting to judge what place ‘O vara de neuitat’ (An Unforgettable Summer) plays in the too short cinematography of Lucian Pintilie and to speculate about why he had chosen to make this film in 1994, his second only after the fall of the Communism which had practically silenced for two decades the creative voice of a director who debuted in the 60s and could have become in a different constellation one of the most important creators of the European cinema. While most of his films after 1990 deal either with the Communist era or its repercussions in the process the Romanian call ‘transition’ this film as well as ‘Tertium non datur’ made in 2005 (his last by now) connect with the more remote past of Romania, the first half of the 20th century. Both deal with the actions of the Romanian army beyond the borders of today’s Romania, both happen in remote places, and place the moral dilemma of the Romanian officers in the center of the action.

There is one more element in the making of this film that is worth mentioning. The film is inspired by a story written in the 50s by a Romanian writer who was then belonging to the Socialist Realism style (but later became a political oponent and a refugee). So here we have Pintilie, the most famous dissident film-maker of Romania picking up a story written in the Communist era – maybe in a demonstrative manner that tells in a most authoritative voice that bridges with the past should not be completely blown-up.

‘The Unforgettable Summer’ is a anti-war drama on the road open by Kubrick‘s ‘Paths of Glory‘. Yet it has also another classical source in the Romanian cinema – Liviu Ciulei’s Padurea Spanzuratilor, the first Romanian movie to have won a major prize at the Cannes film festival. Pintilie’s film, with the moral dilemma of the officer hero, making eventually the right decision with the major risk for his career and even life has a lot of similarity in theme and form.

The cinematographic approach is simple and direct. The film is beautifully filmed, with attention to the detail, and a fluent story telling. Music also plays a role in the narrative structure, the whole action happens between the opening French Can-Can music and the closing ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ and in the meantime nothing too nice happens. The horror of the violent actions that happen or are suggested to happen on screen is balanced by the innocent view of the child whose story telling leads the action. Here the innocence is also under pressure as in many other films by Pintilie, so is the destiny of principal heroine superbly acted by Kristin Scott Thomas, who together with her partner on screen Claudiu Bleont give life to the couple of heroes. Her actions cannot cut off sufferings or fix evil, they can only postpone by a second the sentences of history. Is it too much, is it too little? The open question is left to the viewer to answer.

Here is the film as I found it on youTube:









(video source CinemaRomanesc)