Or “Restul e tăcere” in its original Romanian title, it’s a movie based on a true story: the story of a young man whose biggest dream was to make a great movie. And boy, does he dream big.
Young Grig, the main character – son of a famous actor from the Romanian National Theater – goes through quite a bit of personal drama: too short to act on stage, too shy, too excessive in his lifestyle, he decides to go against his father’s wishes and direct a movie! Given that the story is set at the beginning of the 20th century, when cinema was still new technology and was considered cheap entertainment for the plebs by the upper classes, it’s easy to understand the social stigma that accompanies such a rebellious act in the eyes of the high society – to which his father belonged.
His choice of a topic is a reconstitution of the Romanian Independence War, which took place in 1877. Grig’s dream is to show a long and grandiose depiction of this major event in his people’s history; he manages to get financing from Leon, an idealistic man and self-declared Patron of the arts – which goes on to become Grig’s mentor. The proverbial “bad guy” in the movie is represented by Gaumonde, a French company that controls movie productions all over Europe and doesn’t look kindly to having strong local competition. Will Grig manage to create a successful movie and also gain his father’s respect and admiration?
Directed by Nae Caranfil, one of the greatest Romanian directors (known for Filantropica and Asphalt Tango as well as others), “The Rest is Silence” stands as an excellent portrayal of the Romanian society before World War 1, a modern society that rivals the French or the German ones in terms of sophistication and passion for culture. The costumes, the atmosphere, the speech, they all depict quite accurately what is considered to have been the spirit of those times, together with Grig’s struggle to succeed (inspired by real-life’s story of Grigore Brezeanu). The movie within the movie (Inception style!) actually represents the first Romanian feature film – “Independența României” (The Independence of Romania) which came out in 1912; that goes on to show just how passionate and active were the Romanian youth at the turn of the century and how quickly the society at all levels embraced modernity.
It is a movie about passion, about following dreams, about courage with a good dose of humor. I find it refreshing, every now and then, to get a glimpse of the past, as a memo of how we got to where we are; it’s also so much easier, when it is captured on film…