I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (ÃŽmi este indiferent dacÄƒ Ã®n istorie vom intra ca barbari), dir. Radu Jude, Romania / Czech Republic / Germany / Bulgaria / France 2018, 160 min., Romanian with English subtitles
‘I do not care if we go down in history as barbarians,’ shrugged Romanian soldier-turned-dictator Ion Antonescu, whose virulent anti-Semitism fuelled the ethnic cleansing of the 1941 Odessa Massacre. Decades later, a young woman (Ioana Iacob) researches and rehearses a pageant about the Romanian army’s ‘victory’ in capturing Odessa – but repeatedly encounters obstacles and objections from the authorities, who’d prefer a sanitised official story, and from locals hired as extras, who have their own ideas about the story’s heroes and villains.
Typically rigorous, witty and cineliterate in examining the uncomfortable relationship between past and present, Radu Jude’s exhilaratingly freewheeling narrative channels both early Godard and Miklós Jancsó. At the same time, however, the film’s forthright, unsettling insistence on lucidity and honesty is entirely his own.
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