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February 27, 2021
ARTS & LEISURE

“Beyond the Hills”, in the eyes of the world

Is there or not a metaphor defining the Romanian society behind Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills”? This is the question which the National Public Radio (NPR) tries to find an answer to.

“Cristian Mungiu became the poster boy for the Romanian New Wave when his film ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ took the top prize at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2007. Like that film, Mungiu’s latest turns an unblinking camera on two troubled young women in a dysfunctional society. Beyond the Hills is now opening in theatres across the U.S.,” according to NPR.NPR considers the story Mungiu tells as disturbing. “The film is inspired by a couple of nonfiction novels written by Tatiana Niculescu, which documented what happened in 2005 in this monastery,” Mungiu says. “But the film is not trying to have any kind of police investigation and documentation of what happened. What happened in the end, was exorcism.The film begins when a young woman comes to visit her friend, with whom she’d grown up in one of Romania’s Ceausescu-era orphanages. Female film director Mona Nicoara, currently working in New York, told the NPR that ‘the two young women depicted in the film are emblematic for the pro-natal policies of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Hundreds of unwanted children were dumped into orphanages that were ill-prepared to care for them.   Alina and Voichita are members of what’s called a ‘lost generation of orphans.” One of these girls, Alina, has moved to Germany to work. Her friend, Voichita, has been accepted into a monastery and plans to become a nun. Alina can’t accept that the two once-independent orphans have grown apart.

“Somebody who comes from an orphanage, somebody who does not have very many friends in the world, except for one good friend at a monastery – cannot find their place easily,” Nicoara explains. “And it attacks just as much the mental health care system; it attacks that just as much as other institutions. It gives very little faith in the police or the justice system. So I think it is not much of a comment on history as it is a comment on what we’ve made of the present.” But Mungiu says his film is neither a tract on social conditions nor a metaphor for something other than what is shown onscreen. He says he tried to keep ‘Beyond the Hills” as close to reality as possible. That’s how it takes on wider meaning.The NPR says that Mungiu may not believe in metaphor, but after all the despair and tumult in the story, a character sitting in a police van stalled by traffic, construction and weather asking ‘When is this winter going to end?’ makes it sound like one.   Although “Beyond the Hills” managed to be shown in theaters across the U.S., the film failed being nominated for the Oscar for the best foreign language film category.Still, like its predecessor, ‘Beyond the Hills was a prizewinner at Cannes: Its two young stars shared the best actress prize last year and Mungiu won best screenplay. After Mungiu’s success at Cannes 2012, it was Calin Peter Netzer’s turn, another Romanian director, to impress international film juries with “Child’s Pose”, which won the Golden Bear Award at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

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