Radu Jude


Best films:
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Radu Jude (Romania, 1977) made his name with the short Lampa cu Caciula (2006).

Cea mai Fericita Fata Din Lume (2009)

Film Pentru Prieteni (2011)

The farce Toata Lumea din Familia Noastra/ Everybody In Our Family (2012)

Aferim (2015) is a black-and-white period drama (with minimal montage) set in an anti-heroic brutish feudal era of slavery and superstition. The natural and human landscape of this film is not all too dissimilar from the anarchic lands of western movies, but it doesn't contain the moral lesson that usually framed the western and led to the happy ending. The story, that meanders from ugly action to ugly speech, is a sardonic meditation on the brutal instincts of humanity, devoid of any morality in the absence of a police state, reminiscent of Emir Kusturica's visceral black humor.

The land has been devastated by the plague and is mostly deserted. A limping constable, Costandin, and his teenage son Ionita are riding from village to village, searching for an escaped gypsy slave who stole money from the lord of the land. They harass the slaves of every place, starting with a monastery, to get information about the man's whereabouts. Along the way they help a priest whose cart has broken down. When they are done fixing it, the priest rewards them with a frenzied racist sermon against Jews, Turks and gypsies (gypsies are at least human, Jews are not). While crossing a woof, they stumble onto a coach that has been attacked by bandits. Its passengers are lying on the ground, all dead except one, who is still breathing, but the constable doesn't bother to stop and help him. While crossing a swamp, they meet a fishermen who is fishing down in the water to his chest and buy a fish, but the constable pays very little for it. They are stopped by the local constable who tells them to go back because this is no longer their lord's jurisdiction but a little bit of money gains them free passage and even a tip about where the slave is hiding. The owners of the farm don't cooperate but the constable and his son find first a gypsy child and then the gypsy slave that they want, Carfin. The whole village tries to stop them, not to save the slave but because they are taking a poor farmer's slave without paying. They also take the child, Tintiric. The boy rides with Ionita and tells harrowing stories, including some lord who buried a man alive. Carfin, meanwhile, protests his innocence: he did'n steal, he claims that the lord wants him dead because the lord's wife seduced him. The constable initially laughs at the claim, but then starts believing the slave because the lord's wife has a reputation for sleeping around, even giving birth to an illegitimate child. The region is under Ottoman occupation and every now and then they meet coaches carrying Turkish officials. The constable hates the Turks and either curses against them or sends them in the wrong direction. The child is beginning to feel at home with the two horsemen and begs the constable to take him to his home. The prisoner slave talks nonstop about the tough life of a slave. But the constable instead takes the child to a market and sells him to a priest who needs one for his church. In the market we see a puppet show in which a man kills his wife and then a priest, and we see a group of slaves begging people to buy them because they have nothing to eat. The constable Costandin takes both his son Ionita and the prisoner slave Carfin to a bar where he meets friends and boasts boasts about having been a mercenary and all the killing and raping that he did. He gets drunk, then orders a prostitute for himself and one for his son. That night, after singing and dancing with him, Ionita asks his father whether they can free the slave, but Constandin has no feelings: his job is to catch runaways, not to do charity. When they arrive at the lord's village, the other slaves curse Carfin: because of him, they have all been persecuted by the lord. Costandin finally shows some feelings for the slave and talks in person to the lady who seduced him. She is confined in a narrow room and beaten by the lord, who also wants to lock her up in a convent. She has no problem admitting her guilt (that she lured Carfin). When the lord finally shows up, Costandin is rewarded with money. Costandin asks in vain that the lord show mercy for the poor slave. The lord is indifferent to the fact that his wife has admitted seducing him and marches towards the terrified slave. The other slaves actually hold him down and help the lord met out his punishment. Costandin tries one more time to intervene but the lord has lost patience with him and slaps him in the face. Then the lord takes a dagger and sets out to castrate Carfin. The other slaves hold him down and one slave offers the lord a pair of pliers. Costandin walks Ionita away and tells him to behave like a man.
(Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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