Cristi Puiu is demanding: he does not stage an intrigue, but a dialogue, where six protagonists express their point of view about the great concerns of the time, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Jacky Bornet writes for francetvinfo.fr, quotes news.ro.
In a large aristocratic residence, six intellectuals, men and women, converse around a banquet, as Plato would have done 400 years before our era. In both cases, the form and substance are always relevant.
The first big surprise of the film is to give women lines attributed to men: a Russian army general becomes Ingrid, and Tolstoy – Olga. A formidable idea of staging, which relativizes the preconceptions of a dominant male authority on a dominant female delicacy. Allusions have a completely different color, once attributed to one sex or another, with a more universal dimension.
In the midst of these oppressive talks, gunfire disturbs the silence. Also, a ballet of servants around the guests, more or less related to this aggression, spices up the brain spheres of the film. The episode recalls the class struggle in the development of Tsarist Russia, which broke out in 1905 with the launch of the battleship Potiomkin, which announced the October 1917 revolution, the subject of Eisenstein’s famous film.
Another inventiveness of the staging: the allusions of a character are launched from behind a half-open door and only the characters to whom they are addressed remain in front of the camera. The image remains essential and the compositions are reminiscent of Vermeer’s paintings, where the open doors draw attention to other spaces, here philosophical.
If the viewer sometimes loses the thread, it is not what matters, because the discourse is not lost, the meaning being the one that matters. Cristi Puiu thus presents the revolutions of reasoning in order to value the complexity of concepts, problems and the difficulties to solve them. What matters is respect for opinions, tolerance, therefore the defense of democracy.
“War as a result of a reason in the name of God”, compared to “a demonic irrational concept”, “God as proof of virtuous conduct”, “the construction of a political Europe as a guarantee of civilization” are issues debated in the early twentieth century . “Malmkrog” exposes them with a clear, visible relevance and beauty.
The vintage drama “Malmkrog”, for which Cristi Puiu was awarded the Prize for The best director in the Encounters Section at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, it had its extraordinary premiere on the big French screens on July 2nd.
The film will be presented in Romania at TIFF – Transylvania International Film Festival, at the beginning of August.