I recently asked a few of my 4-year-old students what the perfect place would mean to them. Little girls kept talking about puffy princess dresses, chocolate and how they would like to ride ponies all the time (isn’t that the most stereotypical response ever?). Boys’ answers were more varied–full of jungle animals, rubber boats, action figures and high-speed trains. One boy said he would like to see everything in purple; one girl that she would like to hear music at every single Parisian crosswalk.
Anyways, it was fascinating to listen to my students talking about their dream worlds. I don’t remember my ideas from when I was little, but I’m sure it would have something to do with those cheesy Japanese cartoons that were so popular in Poland in the 1990s.
Such dreams, ladies and gentlemen, have inspired a Story (with a capital S)–a ‘once-upon-a-time’ tale about an idyllic land of milk and honey. Silent Wedding (2008) by Horatiu Malaele seems like a serenade to bygone times that have passed forever. It’s a warm, funny, bittersweet story filled with hedonism and free-living characters. People have sex, drink, fight, reconcile, dance, run around the fields, scream and sleep against picturesque backdrops. Not that far from them, there is HISTORY happening, with the Communist party and comrade Joseph Stalin on top. But people can still enjoy good vodka or visit the circus.
There are, however, certain rules. One of them is, ‘If you sleep with her, you have to marry her,’ respected by Tata Grigore (Victor Rebengiuc), who insists on consecrating the romance between his daughter Mara (Meda Victor) and Iancu (Alexandru Potoceanu). But the wedding plans conincide with Stalin’s death, which brought with it a ban on all celebration. Tata Grigore comes up with a clever solution: everyone can do what they wish, but they need to remain silent. We then see beautifully ludicrous scenes of the band ‘almost’ playing, people ‘almost talking’ and the young couple ‘almost dancing’. This scene is also a culmination of characters’ absurd attempts to ignore the outside world.
But, this outside world cannot be ignored and it eventually tracks them down. The characters, though cheerful and full of life, turn out to be tragic victims of the system, or, maybe, more generally, of the evil side of human nature. This story, despite its initial sweetness, leaves behind a bitter taste. It is, indeed, a ‘hymn’ to the utopian past–the past my grandparents talked about, full of neighbourly dancing parties. Or the past of my parents, visiting every corner of the city without fear of being assaulted. Silent Wedding is a visually beautiful tribute to nature and the simple pleasures of yesteryear.
You’ll enjoy this movie if:
- a) you consider yourself a bit of a hedonist (even if you wouldn’t admit it).
- b) you sometimes wish you were a little kid again, or that you’d been born earlier in time. (Or both.)
- c) you don’t care about historical accuracy. Stalin died in March and the events in the movie are clearly happening during the summer. Thus, we can safely conclude that the comrade’s death is only a vague excuse to give story a tragic twist.
Directed by: Horatiu Malaele
Written by: Adrian Lustig, Horatiu Malaele
Genre: Comedy- drama