Charts and paradigms
Alex. Leo Şerban

The second obstacle deals with the too recent moment (approximately four or five years) when I was the witness of the outburst and settling of a potential ?new Romanian cinema? created by the young generation (from Cristi Puiu to Cristi Mungiu). Even if, let?s say, some of the best Romanian movies of all times (Pintilie?s The Oak, Nae Caranfil?s E Pericoloso Sporgersi or Danieliuc?s The Conjugal Bed) were produced in the recent years after the Revolution, only Danieliuc?s movie managed to be a debut which indeed brought something new; the other two did nothing else but to vividly and freely further on pursue important filmographies. Under the given circumstances, I don?t think one can speak of a ?renewal? of the Romanian cinema before the substantial series initiated by Puiu?s Stuff and Dough, recently followed by Caranfil?s Philanthropy, Mungiu?s Occident, Radu Muntean?s The Rage, Titus Muntean?s Exam and now The Death of Mister Lăzărescu directed by the same Puiu? All these titles (not at all equal in value, but having something in common) successively appeared during the same year or quite recently one after the other, creating the impression of a conjoined revival movement (thematic and formal) and of a re-evaluation of the native cinematographic tropisms.

Now, leaving aside these considerations which are more connected to the history of the art under discussion, one must say that- beyond hierarchies and canons- the new thing that the cinema after 1994 has really brought about has obviously been the thematic freedom. The directors were finally free to turn their own stories into movies, to screen the books they liked the way the pleased or to do both, intermingling personal obsessions with suggestions from literature. The strong word here is ?personal?. Because, otherwise, of course, the directors of the communist regime also mixed literary suggestions with their own ideas- only that none of them was one hundred per cent ?personal?, but filtered through the alienated filter of censorship. And censorship had a right of ?final cut?- as, ironically, the producers from the big American studios have always had. The communist censorship used to cut off the too transparent hints or the ?inconvenient? subjects and was indifferent to the commercial impact of the movie- anyway, except for the historical or detective movies directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu or for the improvised shows signed by Mircea Drăgan or Geo Saizescu, one couldn?t talk of ?commercial success? in Ceauşescu?s Romania? Obviously, ?the capitalist censorship? was mainly interested in the profit: if a movie contains things susceptible of sending the average viewer away (from the subject to the direction), that film is ?readjusted? till it fits the standard format.

The paradox is that the big problem of the Romanian movie before ?89 was the existence of censorship and the great problem of the post-December Romanian movie is the lack of censorship! The cinema has managed to get rid of the ideological censorship but I think that some commercial censorship would do it no harm. It is obviously not the case of the author movies but that of the commercial movies: in the case of the former, the censorship coming from the public is very effective? Used to the non-problematic movies and craving for easy entertainment (all the more as various televisions have inoculated it this type of fraud!), the Romanian public is not yet (and I am moderating my language!) doing justice to the offers coming from the authentic cinema men. We are faced with, as the Americans state it in movies, ?a situation?, because an ?authentic cinema man? doesn?t lend himself to ?paying services? to the population, the mediocre directors who could have served the public have vanished and the average spectator is waiting to see detective movies and comedies; hence, there is a fatal syncopation between supply and demand. An authentic cinema man- as opposed to a standardized craftsman- wants to express himself or to express Reality or both, while the great public- as I said- is not interested in ?Reality? but in entertainment. And when this public cannot find it in the cinema, it remains indoors, with the TVs on. Sleeping slaves of automatisms.

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