I was surprised by the low reviews for this movie.
However, I took a leap of faith because I am a sci-fi fan and also the title sounded very good, plus the still shots seemed pretty nice.
I had a very good time seeing the actual thing :)
I think that the problem is that any animation is seen as something for kids. This is not for kids, most kids will never understand what's it about and they will not understand the tons of references to all kinds of stuff in the movie: e.g. hippie references, etc.
I liked many jokes and funny lines up until the very end: one of the best scenes comes after the climax :)))
I recommend it for a week-end easy past time and give it an 8.
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.
If you love music this will quickly become a favorite for you.
This movie is all about music. An orchestra conductor is given a second chance 30 years later and he definitely grabs it.
Life flows through this movie. You can detect how music mixes with life and how music is a part and at the same time is not a part of life.
Music lifts you beyond life.
I also liked the comedy parts. Life is tragedy and comedy and music encompasses it all.
Be advised that the director likes to play and the mixture between fantasy and real life is present throughout the whole movie.
Also, please note the gypsy who arranges the passport issue. In real life he is a member of the Romanian music band Taraf des Haidouks (http://www.myspace.com/tarafdehaidouksbandofgypsies). They have amazing music and you will also be treated with a small sample in the movie. He is one of my favorite characters in the movie and one of my favorite performers on stage.
I'm trying to find any downsides to this movie but I personally can't. The person who accompanied me to the cinema said it was too...soapy. I was just sorry I was not alone in my home...This is a movie where you meet yourself so you'd better not have witnesses.
I generally hate French movies (for reasons I would not like to state here) but this movie made me think twice and revise my attitude towards French movies. From now on I will bear and watch at least 10 minutes before I dismiss a French movie.
This was a comedy which was incredibly funny. I will not spoil anything I would just say I would rate it in the first 50 comedies of all times.
Also I like the fact that reality is combining extremely well with a little bit of fiction or just with exaggeration which makes the movie the more salty. Acting also extremely good.
I will not say more because there's nothing to say about such a film: you just have to watch it.