I do not expect this film to be well understood by viewers out of Romania. This tells something certainly about the value, or maybe about the lack of universality of the film, but also tells something about how different history and even life of common people was in Romania compared to other countries, even in Eastern Europe.
The film is an adaptation of a novel by Marin Preda, a controversial novelist who died during the Communist rule soon after the book was published. It tells the story of an intellectual, professor of philosophy whose life is crushed after he is imprisoned on false accusations at the end of the Stalinist era. Basically the first part of the film tells the story of his fight for survival in prison, the second describes his tentative to regain his life after being released. His release is actually only apparent, Romania of the 60s asks from him different types of compromises and crimes, but yet his fight for survival is as tough morally as in prison.
The film is splendidly acted by some of the best Romanian actors. Stefan Iordache who has the lead role would be in another time and another place a mega-star, we can get here a good glimpse of his fabulous acting art. Although suffering from a hesitant story-telling and falling sometimes in non-essential details or character comics, the film is still an important landmark for the Romanian cinema, as well as for the process of recovering the moral and historic values in the Romanian society.
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