Radu Muntean: The Paper Will Be Blue (Hartia va fi albastra, 2006)

reviewed by Iulia Blaga© 2007

A model for cinema is reflected in the dim mirror of history. The Paper Will Be Blue is, in my view, the most honest film yet made about the Romanian Revolution and is a model for cinematic reflection in the mirror—sometimes blurred or stained—of history from which it evokes precisely feelings of the loss of meaning of certain events.

It is the second feature length film by the filmmaker (born in 1971)—his first film was The Fury (Furia, 2002)—who is probably best known through the Romanian media, where he has been featured as a subject in an impressive number publications (more than 300 so far). But this “celebrity background” remains barely discernible in the washed out colors of his fiction, which plays with cruel reality, mobilizing all the secret weapons of an author who was the age of his hero at the time of the Revolution and is now using his autobiographical baggage as an inspiration for his story.

I am comforted that foreigners are well aware of the basic facts surrounding the Romanian Revolution thanks to its ubiquitous media coverage and tele-reportages. The TV set, by the way, is a recurring motif in the film; more than that, it helps establish one point of reference to the evolving events: the official, popular reference—what is known as truth—and betrays its complicity with the official version, which, until now, has not been successful in resolving the “mysteries of the revolution.”

The other point of reference is the story told by Radu Muntean. It is drawn from reality and from his own life as a soldier drafted into service in the northern part of the country during the Revolution. A vehicle roams the streets of Bucharest during the night of 22 and the morning of 23 December 1989. A young soldier leaves his unit to “fight” at the TV station. His colleagues look for him at the station and at his home all through the night. The young soldier encounters a Gypsy and “revolutionaries” who are allowed to carry firearms, and it is not long before the Gypsy is suspected of being an Arab terrorist. The film indulges in the immense joy of people who do not know each other embracing in the streets, and who, a bit later, hate and accuse one another, again without knowing each other. But most of all, the film is preoccupied with the chaos, the infernal wind stirred up by the cleavage of the tectonic plates of history.

There is an atmosphere—or, more precisely, a tension—in the film that is constructed by the young filmmaker with limited means. Just as there is no leading character, there is no firm dramatic structure to sustain the night time adventures of the protagonists. The only certain thing is the death of the two young heroes, killed by accident, amidst this absurdist mise-en-scène, and the aftermath of the events, which the film tells later. After all, an absurd death is the result of complex factors. The capacity of the script to release the spirit of important incidents and of obviously banal elements is matched by the power of the story to remain true and extremely loyal to reality. The filmmaker avoids the temptation to melo-dramatize the events, which one must admit, have already saturated the patience of the Romanian public. It goes without saying that the general disappointment of a people who feel betrayed would continue to grow as long as the revolution, so glorified officially, remains a black hole in the recent history of the country. Radu Muntean claims in all of his interviews that he had no intentions to resolve the mysteries of the Revolution. His film exposes the unique atmosphere of that time. His take on the events imposes on Romanian viewers a sad commemoration (which probably is the way out from the saturation mentioned above). It is sad to look at yourself in this mirror. This cocktail made of victory, hope, madness, lack of conscience, error, indifference, idiocy, loss of a sense of reality would be difficult to digest by those who, since then, have not even tried to deal with their past. But it pays off.

Translated from French by Christina Stojanova

Iulia Blaga, Film critic for the daily Romania libera


The Paper Will Be Blue, Romania, 2006
Color, 95 minutes
Director: Radu Muntean
Scriptwriter: Răzvan Rădulescu, Alexandru Baciu, Radu Muntean
Cinematography: Tudor Lucaciu
Cast: Paul Ipate, Adi Carauleanu, Andi Vasluianu, Dragoş Bucur, Tudor Aaron Istodor, Dana Dogaru

Radu Muntean: The Paper Will Be Blue (Hartia va fi albastra, 2006)

reviewed by Iulia Blaga© 2007

Updated: 11 May 07