|DVD Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man
Run time: 163 min
Genres: Action | Drama | History
Director: Constantin Popescu
Writers: Constantin Popescu
Stars: Constantin Dita, Bogdan Dumitrache, Ionut Caras
|Plot Keywords: arrest, torture, resistance, glory, soviet army|
Release Date: 13 February 2010 (Germany)
Budget: €800,000 (estimated)
Indeed, first of all, I consider that this movie should be seen by as many Romanian citizens as possible (at least this is my wish and the main purpose of this review) but I think that any foreigner can also enjoy its beauty.
Why all the Romanian citizens should see this movie? A part of the answer to this question results directly from reading the synopsis. Still, I will add a few words. I consider that the story showed in this movie is among the few historical facts which could help us (Romanian citizens mainly the young generation) not to be so ashamed of our people's cowardice shown during the communist period, until the '89 Revolution.
This is the story of a few courageous (if not insanely courageous) young men fighting the Monster, or just in fact opposing the Monster (until the presumed arrival of the Americans). They fight also their fear of death, strangely enough by trying to concentrate on another fear – more important that of being condemned by their sons of cowardice.
The other part of the answer is the same as for the question "Why should any other foreigner see this movie?" and I will try to present the other qualities of the movie, beside the story.
I liked a lot the script because there are a lot of smart lines. I liked especially the sequences that show in parallel: 1) the speeches of the police (securitate) with the all the necessary instructions in order to catch the enemy and 2) the scenes with the interrogations and torturing taking place in reality not quite following the soft indications given from above . The alternation of these two "worlds" is made brilliantly and is more effective then any documentary movie with a 3 hours speech on the inhumanity of the communist regime.
I was deeply moved by two scenes which showed the love of a mother and the love for a friend. I don't remember such similar powerful scenes in any other movie. Of course, I might be subjective in my preference, but I am sure they will move you too.
I liked the way the director chose to shoot the group scenes with the young heroes. In some of them nothing happens indeed (as action) but they show so much and make us understand them better and even entering (if we choose) the atmosphere. You can feel the high grass touching you also, the cold raindrops dripping on your skin as well
I liked the alternation of the colored scenes with the (more rare) black and white scenes. The scenes in black and white are shown blurry and I found them very appropriate for the story and they added a lot of beauty to the movie. Beside these sequences in black and white, there are a lot of very beautiful images (the landscapes in Fagaras' mountains; the portraits of our heroes and of the other characters in different situations, using different lights and shadows ).
Why not a 10 then? Only a nine Mainly, because the actor playing the main character is not succeeding to convince us that he feels, he understands the profound and beautiful lines But, as he speaks pretty rare this doesn't affect the movie that much.
It's already too long this review but I hope that at least it will serve its' purpose.
I have seen this movie in the spring 2010 (I think…) at its first public showing in Bucharest (right after the world premiere in Germany, if I remember correctly).
I must start that I personally believe that it is an extremely difficult task to portray a character like Ion Gavrila Ogoranu (and along, his friends, the people around, etc).
Ion Gavrila Ogoranu is a (up to now) little known Romanian anti- communist hero. Being little known means by no means that he was little. to the contrary, to the persons knowledgeable of the fight against communism in Romania he is THE Legend. And this is for a very simple and unique reason: by a combination of intelligence, inspiration and pure chance he managed to stay free (not get caught by the communists) from the communist occupation till 1976 (most anti-communist fighters got caught before 1960…).
After the Romanian Revolution of 1990 he wrote his memoir: "Brazii se frang dar nu se indoiesc" (which is a word-play meaning literally "The pinetrees may break but they don't bend/doubt"; the word play is on the Romanian "indoiesc" which means both "bend" and "doubt"). The memoir contains a pretty accurate account of what happened in the 7 years while Ogoranu and his friends/pals stayed in the northern part of the Fagaras mountains and fought communism.
The book is full of amazing stories, happenings, thoughts, etc and folloows the life of Ogoranu and the persons around him up to and after his capture of 1976 (he even gives some thoughts about what he expected and what his impression is of the Romanian 1989 Revolution).
Unfortunately, the movie selects only a few events depicted in the book and unfortunately the thinking of those people gets very little attention (their motives behind their fight, the motives of the communists, the motives of the traitors etc etc). On the reason analysis part, the movie limits itself to select some discussions between those people and not even the most relevant. The rest of the movie is fight scenes (sometimes way too long) and montages (fighters resting in the grass,fighters eating, fighters bla bla) way too long too. Anyway i would not mind those, would the film be more deep in presenting what was really happening.
A by-effect of this superficial treatment of thoughts and events is also the fact that the movie misses almost entirely the fact that Ogoranu and those around him were sympathisers of the so called "Legionari" which were a nationalistic party in Romania before the communism (who were also at times quite close to the Nazis). This is not saying that Ogoranu was Nazi but he definitely had extreme rightwing views which might also be interesting to explore. I think it would have been extremely interesting to see how and why a person can be so right about one thing (fighting communism) and so wrong about another thing (being extreme right wing and antisemitic and so on).
Probably, if you don't know the story already there is a small chance for you to fully understand what was going on.
On the plus side, it is maybe the first movie I see where the bad guys get some screen time :)…There are scenese where you get to see the "Securitate (communist secret service)" guys making plans to catch Ogoranu. Unfortunately, in this case too, no talk about reasons, background, motives, etc.
I had much higher hopes of this movie and it was very disappointing for me probably because I know very well the history of the era.
I guess that if you want to see an action movie and get some initial (taste-opening) idea about what happened with the anti-communist fight in Eastern Europe, this is a good start.
It is a pity that such an amazing story (whether one likes or not Ogoranu, one has to admit the story was amazing) got directed by a beginner re. full-length movies.
However, for history buffs: a must see! And, there is a good chance that if you don't know the history of the era very well, you might enjoy a pretty good history action movie.
more than a film, it is a testimony. cruel, fresh, profound. a kind a documentary. instrument to stop forgiveness. so, the opinion must be more subtle. because the desire of director is obvious – build a chronicle of Romanian resistance against Communism. the story of Ioan Gavrilă – Ogoraru and his group. and the work was impressive, behind ordinary errors of this ambitious step, behind the Manichean parts, behind the passion who makes things only skin of shadows. it is a courageous project. sad, harsh, honest, far from pink surrogates. it is drawing of truth, sufferance and sacrifice. its seed – Memorialul durerii. its heart – the conscience of past as modeling of present. a gray movie. mixture of fear, ideal, mud and strong values. a lesson – film. about the root of a society. and a vision about fight against pure evil.