Reconstruction ★★★★½

Named the first in a top ten best Romanian films of all time by the domestic film critics in 2008, RECONSTRUCTION (also known as REENACTMENT) is a daring, dissident satire on the dehumanised condition under the Socialist regime in Romania. The film opens with a 'mockumentary' of a young boy repeatedly falling down on a muddy ground, a flash-forward of the later revealed reenactment of a juvenile delinquency the two same young boys formerly committed.

Vuica (George Mihaita) and Ripu (Vladimir Gaitan), the former is the one we see in the prologue, are bought to a remote bar at the foot of the mountain situated in adjacent to a forest, a river and a football stadium for the reenactment. They previously damaged the place and hit the bartender drunkenly during the celebration of their graduation. Led by the nonchalant Prosecutor (George Constantin), Professor Paveliu (Emil Botta), Cameraman Vlad (Nikolaus Woltz) and a military officer (Ernest Maftei), they have to ‘perform’ the violence in front of a camera as to serve as an example of what ought not be done in an educational film.

Wandering around the filming process is a mysterious bikini girl (Ileana Popovici) who seemingly enjoys a sunny day in the countryside alone. She is sunbathing, swimming in a lake, listening to the radio and giggling the absurdity she’s unintentionally witnessing. At one point Ripu briefly flirts with her when Vuica has gone missing from chasing after a flock of geese in the forest. Her mythical presence is juxtaposed with the interrupted shooting process as the cameraman forgot to charge the camera, the boys are reluctant to follow instructions and even fight each other. The Professor discreetly objects the reenactment to the Prosecutor who disclosed his affair with the Professor’s wife to his assistant.

Every occurrence has a surrealistic tone, every peculiar abnormalities are rendered into a burlesque with an otherworldly soundtrack in which the radio broadcast, the TV news and the roaring sound in a football match are heard spasmodically without a visual synchronisation. When the shooting delays again and again and the boys are submerged deeper and deeper into a preposterousness, it reaches a tragic denouement for both of the boys. An uproar is resulted when a crowd of football-match audience emerge from the stadium and condemn the violence enacted by Ripu after ignorantly judging him as the perpetrator from the outcome. The passerby unwittingly become the accomplice of a conformity structure which denounces any slight glitch of human behaviour, of a totalitarian regime wich imposes their will unceremoniously until we conform to the rules and lose our recognition of individuality. The boys are not 'Vuica' or 'Ripu', they are the 'offenders' as in the Prosecutor's script.

The ending of RECONSTRUCTION is indelibly unsettling, it takes a dark route when Vuica‘s final words mean ‘I don’t give a damn.’ Their lives mean nothing more than a case file in the authority’s cabinet or an image on film. RECONSTRUCTION was granted a very limited release and no official premiere domestically, it was withdrawn after one month and was banned due to its dissident attitude. As Lucian Pintilie explicated, “these people banned my film mainly because they did not understand the fact that I was questioning the very principle of a reconstruction: an abuse of which neither the torturers nor the victims were actually conscious.” The film is ultimately a destruction of humanity with individual identity is disparaged gradually into a vacuum. That’s the ‘educational’ part.