In 1925 Romania, young Marie-Therese Von Debretsy refuses the flirtatious advances of her husband's commanding officer. As a result, the cosmopolitan family is reassigned to a brutally ... See full summary »
In 1925 Romania, young Marie-Therese Von Debretsy refuses the flirtatious advances of her husband's commanding officer. As a result, the cosmopolitan family is reassigned to a brutally bleak and dangerous outpost on the Bulgarian/Romanian frontier where both their relationship and humanity are severely tested. Written by
Dawn M. Barclift
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 opponent 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 playes 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.
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