Motto: La mafia è la coscienza del proprio essere, l’esagerato concetto della forza individuale, unica e sola arbitra di ogni contrasto, di ogni urto d’interessi e d’idee; donde la insofferenza della superiorità e peggio ancora della prepotenza altrui.
~ Giuseppe Pitrè
Terminus Paradisi is probably the best Romanian film ever made. That is saying a lot, seeing how there aren't many places to rival Romania in terms of cinematography (and neither the United States nor much else on the entire American continent makes it on that list).
To speak meaningfully about and perhaps even understand this merciless poetic gem we'll have to proceed slowly, on the basis of importing previous discussions (the absence thereof is why I've not written this article earlier). There are two stories at the fundament of this edifice - no, not the two junklets Pintilie merged into the final script. Two actual, important stories.
The first is an 1948 production built around that Romanian Jew : House of Strangers. To quote,
Now then - the father, in America, has four sons and all four are rotten. The first three'd have been just as rotten in the Old World as in the New, which is why Old World stories usually limit themselves to three sons. The fourth however... he's modern, modernized, he's adapted himself. And that's just as bad, even though the father doesn't have the eyes to notice, the senses to sense - much like the now extinct penguins lacked the sense to fear gunshot.
He loses himself, and then dies. He writes a lot before he dies, but it doesn't take. His wife, who loves him perfectly, has nothing to say to him. Not anymore. She knows she's failed, and that's all there was, for her. She withdraws in silence, and prayer.
Have you perhaps wondered how the story would have played out if the last son weren't also no good, weren't also a runt, weren't also "the people themselves" ? Evidently, so has Lucian Pintilie. His wonderment has not been sterile, however.
The second is a 1943 production of Visconti : Ossessione. Have you perhaps wondered how that story would have played out had the outcast actually been made out of man flesh and man bone rather than polenta ? Evidently, so has Lucian Pintilie. His wonderment, however, has not been...
The dialogue is extremely powerful in its native Romanian, definitely worthy of the extremely powerful story. Here's a sample :
- 'Neata, sefu'.ii
- Cum imi sta cu sumanu' asta ?iii
- Ti-ai spalat chilotii.iv
- Vezi sa nu racesti, pasarica.v
- N-ai nici o grija sefu'. Cum naiba sa racesc ? Doar nu-s de mamaliga.vi
- Da la mine.vii
- O sa fac niste cartofi cu oua sefu', sa mincam, si pe urma am sa plec.viii
- Unde naiba sa pleci ?ix
- La servici, sefu'. Ce, crezi ca-s de capul meu ?x
- Ce servici, ma ?xi
- Sunt ospatarita la nea Gili. Care are bodega lui in Dudesti.xii
- I-auzi ma. Da' ce-ti trebuie tie nea Gili.xiii
- Trebuie, sefu', ca mi s-a facut lehamite de golani. Si nea Gili vrea sa ne punem pirostriile.xiv
- Ia te uita dom'le, nea Gili.xv
- Da sefu', nea Gili. E om serios, tata de familie. Lasa totul si divorteaza. Ma ia in toamna asta. Sau poate vrei sa ma iei tu.xvi
- Ah, tu esti de-alea cu...xvii
- Cu pirostrii. E, ma iei ?xviii
- Pai sa-ti gasim o gazda, pasarica.xix
- Haha o sa-mi gasesti o gazda, sefu'. Ce baiat bun esti tu acuma ca mi-ai bagat-o.xx
- Auzi ma, da' tu asa ai invatat la mamica ta acasa, cu draci, cu sefi, cu mi-ai bagat-o.xxi
- Da' n-am mamica.xxii
- Da' taticu' tau stie ca fumezi ?xxiii
- Da' io n-am tatic, sefu'. Nici mamica, nici tatic. Da' tu ?xxiv
- Nu se vede ca-s orfan ? N-am mamica, n-am tatic, n-am pe nimeni pe lume, nici macar nu stiu cum ma cheama.xxv
- Apropo, nu te intereseaza cum ma cheama ?xxvi
- E, pai cum naiba sa nu ma intereseze. Da' daca nu mi-ai spus pin-acuma nu mi-am permis obraznicia sa te-ntreb.xxvii
- Cind ti-oi trage-un picior...xxviii
- Da sefu', te voi intreba. Zilele astea te voi intreba negresit. Abia astept sa stiu si io cu cine am de-a face. Cine face si desface atit in pat cit si la bucatarie. Si ma apara de frig, si ma-ncalta si ma-mbraca... Si mi-a promis ca-mi gaseste gazda...xxix
- O sa-ti fac o papara sefu'... malai n-avem, gris n-avem, zahar nu e, orez nu e, nimic nu e. Asta ce-i ?xxx
- Cu aia merg la Opera.xxxi
- Haha, Opera. Si asta ?xxxii
- Dulceata de nuci. Ma omor dupa ea.xxxiii
- E zaharisita. Las' ca ti-o repar io.xxxiv
- M-ai omorit, varza murata. Da' Japoneza unde-o tii, ca fridiger vad ca n-ai.xxxv
- Care japoneza ?xxxvi
- Aoleo sefu'.xxxvii
- Mai pastreaza si pentru sarmale. Deseara o sa facem sarmale cu peste si zahar.xxxviii
- Am sa plec la lucru la porcii mei. Tu stai cuminte acasa si nu dai drumu' la nimeni daca suna. Nu lasi pe nimeni, in special daca suna aia de la lumina. Vezi ca aia suna si bat ca timpitii. Ii aminam pentru vineri.xxxix
- Bine sefu'.xl
- Nu-mi mai spune sefu'. Numele meu e...xli
- Mitu. Stiu. De la Dimitrie. Mi-ai spus aseara, da' ai uitat. Si pe mine Norica. De la Eleonora. Da' si-asta ai uitat. Ai uitat-o si pe japoneza... Pa toate le-ai uitat.xlii
Dorina Chiriac is incredible in the role of the ingenue earth goddess, Cascaval plays a virtually perfect avatar, and there, but for the grace of me, goes God.———
- 1998, by Lucian Pintilie, with Costel "M-am refugiat in teatru ca sa scap de corvezile din orfelinat" Cascaval, Dorina Chiriac. [↩]
- Morn' boss.
It is, you realise, the morning after in the life of a half-day old couple. [↩]
- How do I look in this "vest" (really, a traditional male peasant garb) ?
Her butt's naked in it. [↩]
- You washed your panties. [↩]
- Careful to not catch a cold, Birdy. Which birdy is perhaps the least vulgar cunt reference in the language, what mothers would use to discuss their preteen daughter's vulva with the daughters in question ; but also his nickname for her altogether. [↩]
- Have no worry boss. How the fuck would I catch a cold ? I'm not made of polenta. [↩]
- Give here. She takes the potato he's peeling. Because she's a woman, and they're in a kitchen. [↩]
- I'll make some hashbrowns and eggs, so we eat, and then I'll be off. [↩]
- Go where the fuck ? [↩]
- To work, boss. What, you think I'm part of some kind of union ? [↩]
- What job, woman ? [↩]
- I'm a waitress for Uncle Gili. He has his own peg house in Dudesti. [↩]
- Listen to her. What do you need uncle Gili for ? [↩]
- Needed, for I'm sick and tired of hooligans. And Nea Gili wants to marry me. [↩]
- Fancy that, uncle Gili. [↩]
- Yes boss, Uncle Gili. He's a respectable bourgeois. Leaves everything and gets a divorce. He'll take me this Autumn. Lest you want to take me ? [↩]
- Ah you're that kind... [↩]
- The marrying kind. So are you taking me ? [↩]
- Let's find you somewhere to stay, birdy. [↩]
- Haha you'll find me where to stay boss. What a good guy you are now that you've stuck it in me. [↩]
- Listen you, that's how you've learned to talk in your mommy's house, with devils and bosses and "stuck it in me" ? [↩]
- But I've no mommy. [↩]
- Does your daddy know you smoke ? [↩]
- I've no father, boss. No mommy, no daddy. How about you ? [↩]
- Can't you see I'm an orphan ? I've no mommy, I've no daddy, nobody in the world, I don't even know my name.
This is no idle point, lest you might overlook it. God gives himself his own name. [↩]
- By the way, don't you wish to know my name ?
Speaking of which, you ever played Planescape Torment ? [↩]
- Eh, how the hell wouldn't it interest me. But since you've not told me so far I've not dared the impudence of asking. [↩]
- If I kick you one... [↩]
- Yes boss, I'll ask. One of these days I'll ask for sure. I can hardly wait to know who I'm dealing with. Who does and undoes in bed and in kitchen, and protects me of cold and shoes me and affords me dress... and promised to find me a place to stay... [↩]
- I'll make you some eggs boss... we've no cornmeal, we've no wheatmeal, there's no sugar, there's no rice... there's nothing. What's this ? [↩]
- That's for the Opera. [↩]
- And this ? [↩]
- Walnut sorbet. I love it to death. [↩]
- It's candied. Don't worry, I'll fix it for you.
(There's a failure mode of sweet preserves where the sugar crystalizes out of them.) [↩]
- O you've killed me, sour cabbage. But where do you keep the Japanese girl, I see you've no icebox.
He had told her he's eating parts of a Japanese girl he's killed (it was in the news at the time) and he plans to do the same to her. It's the sort of thing people tell to first dates. Or at least I do. [↩]
- What Japanese girl ? [↩]
- Oy vey boss... [↩]
- Save some for sarmali. Tonight we make sarmali with fish and sugar. [↩]
- I'll go to work with my pigs. You sit put here like a good girl and don't let anyone in. Especially the electricity company. Mind that they ring the doorbell and knock like demented. We'll pay them Friday. [↩]
- Ok boss. [↩]
- Stop calling me boss. My name is [↩]
- Mitu. I know. From Dmitriy. You've told me last night, but you forgot. And I'm Norica, from Eleanor. But you've forgot this too. And the Japanese girl you've forgotten... everything you forgot.
The scene is outright mythical in proportion, the dead man talking to Lethe and nothing less. [↩]