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STUDIO: Tartan Video
RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
- Director Commentary
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- English & Spanish Subtitles
You say you participated in a revolution? Well you know, we all want to change the world.
Mircea Andrescu, Ted Corban, Ion Sapdaru, Mirela Cioba, Lumnita Gheorghiu, Cristina Ciofu, other names ending with a consonant and ‘u’.
It’s easy if you try.
It’s sixteen years since Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fled the country as it revolted against his rule, and a small town television anchorman is looking to have a retrospective in order to get some local perspective on the event. His guests who appear to talk about their participation in the supposed revolutionary event are a local teacher who spends all of his free time accumulating a considerable debt at the local tavern and a churlish retiree. Both are asked to speak on their participation as the townspeople stormed the town hall, but it’s slowly revealed that perhaps the revolution wasn’t as revolutionary as it’s believed to be when channeled through the prism of certain memories.
Every so often there’s a film that feels so precious in its cinematic form that talking about it or breaking it down into its parts feels as though it will devalue the experience or somehow lessen the impact it originally had. 12:08 East of Bucharest is just that kind of film, the type that is more or less lost in the embarrassment of riches that is the year in film 2007, but one that nonetheless should be championed lest it be forgotten. It’s a slow burn, the entire way through, but it so engratiates itself to you after you’ve viewed it that it won’t be soon forgotten.
The comedy on display here is so dry that you’ll have to water your television after you view it. It’s not something that’s going to elicit chuckles or guffaws when you view it, it’s a slow burn comedy where the movie takes its time establishing locale and characters first and foremost, then moves on to putting them in a farcical situation. It’s the final half of the film where we sit these characters down on the rickety local broadcast where the majority of the comedy and the satire comes into play. I love this film’s sense of pacing, introducing the characters and their lives long before setting them up in the farcical situation that makes up the latter portions of the film.
I don’t even know what Fallout Boy aiming for with this video.
There’s not many better places to milk some uncomfortable moments of comedy than in a captive location where the characters are made uncomfortable and also don’t have much in the way of an option to escape. It’s here where callers chime in with their opinions of the local teacher/drunkard and his claim of having stormed the town square with some of his co-workers in protest before Ceausescu left via helicopter, for the most part looking to discredit his claims of rabid patriotism in the face of local authority. It’s a comedy of posture, blank stares, wobbly camerawork and uncomfortable silence as these men are subjected to the interrogation of the local folk and the host as to whether or not there was actually a revolution that took place in the town before Ceausescu took off.
The Golden Globes’ coverage took a similarly stripped-down approach to the announcements as well this year.
I like that the film makes you question the very idea of revolution through its plotline; does a revolution need to happen all throughout the area it effects to truly be called this? Does it matter if you’re a part of the zeitgeist or not when it comes right down to it? Does it matter when you finally decide to participate: Is the revolution any less palpable if the townspeople waited until after Ceausescu fled to take to the streets, and furthermore does it matter if they weren’t politically fervent and mostly just milled about (the most amusing image the film allows for you to conjure in your own head)? It’s a satire that raises interesting questions about man’s need to feel complicit in the history of the world, and it showcases the nature of people. The film’s opening and closing shots suggest that life moves on regardless at its own pace, and that no matter where the revolution started or spread the fact that it happened is what’s important.
The cover art is striking and the tagline is note perfect, so kudos to the Tartan people for their continued good work in packaging attractive DVD’s. The film looks excellent (with its drab and muted color palatte) and has a similarly simple sound design covered by the 5.1 audio track. In terms of extras you get the theatrical trailer and an agreeable and informative commentary from writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu. Also included are a handful of trailers for other Tartan releases (many of which have been reviewed right here on CHUD). Even though there isn’t a lot in the way of extras, I’d highly recommend picking this up and checking out at some point in the near future. It’d be a shame for such a delightful piece of work to be lost in the hubbub over the historically great year that was 2007.
8.6 out of 10