Friday, February 27, 2009

Speaking in the Name of All...Or Not?

The New York Times published an article on Romania on the 26th of Feb titled "Romania Shrugs Off Reminder of Its Past", by Michael Kimmelman.

After reading the article I had one puzzling question: how can anyone look down on a whole nation and squeeze it into simplistic views with such an ease?

"In straitened times it’s easy to mistake cost for value. You might also say it’s the difference between cash and culture, the price of something and what’s ultimately priceless. Romanians, it seems, have been prone to confuse the two."
Does he really mean all Romanians? Can anyone take such huge responsibility and actually state that - speaking in the name of all Romanians? What right does he have? Who does he think he is, adopting a patronizing tone and looking down on all Romanians?!
Yes, there are problems - but the truth is never simple and can never be generalized (especially in this part of the world, I'd say).

"But the ho-hum response here speaks volumes about this struggling country’s cash-versus-culture climate. With most barely scraping by, Romanians admire private enterprise more than they value some vague notion of shared artistic heritage."
I am surprised again to see how easy it is for Mr. Kimmelman to simplify things, without any touch of doubt (!)
The author of the article quotes further some opinions that support his too-generalized conclusions (you can always find anyone to state anything).

“Romanians sympathize with Valentin [Ceausescu] because he worked the system to his advantage. [no public survey has been carried out in this respect anyway so it can't be said for certain in the name of all Romanians] Our idea of culture now is making money. We still have too many basic needs to worry about elevated ones like art and the state.(Cristian Stanescu)"
This is a personal belief, to be sure. We do not live in simplified artificial worlds in this global society any more and if we think a little deeper we realize our lives are so complex, maybe too complex sometimes, that Maslow's pyramid of needs is such an old thing of the past. We simply cannot live without touching on the whole spectrum of needs - from very basic to very complex - here, in Romania, as well as in the American society and in many other parts of the world...I wish the author of this article had had more respect for a different culture than his.

I believe that articles like these are dangerous and detrimental to effective communication between cultures and deter the real authenticity of understanding - such a pity because we live such hard times - together, all in a boat - when mutual cultural understanding is essential...

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Revolutionary Road" - Getting Out of the 'Hopeless Emptiness'

"Revolutionary Road" - directed by Sam Mendes and with the script by Justin Haythe is definitely worth your time. The film cuts deep into the artificiality in the society, trying to be a wake-up call for our souls who never stopped longing for the real life...Is there any escape when we find ourselves in "hopeless emptiness"? As one character says, many of us realize it's empty but only a very few that it's hopeless.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio perform wonderfully and Mr. Mendes proves his worth once again, after the fascinating "American Beauty". I simply loved the way in which he experimented with silences and light and shadows, and also with movements of large masses of bodies, as opposed to individual ones - great artistic effects - so very human in getting across tense emotions...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Nihil Sine Deo" - The Meaning of TO BE

"Nimic fara Dumnezeu" / "Nothing Without God" is a wonderful interview with His Majesty King Mihai and Her Majesty Queen Ana of Romania, done by Ms. Cristina Topescu, "with her heart", as she confesses.

The viewer is presented the real life story of a King and his country, tormented by conflict, war, falsification of historical events in the minutest details, but eventually, even if not completely, vindicated by the people he has always loved so much.

Forced into exile in 1947 by the soviet communists and blackmailed with the death of 1,000 youngsters in case of opposition, HM King Mihai comes back home, after 45 years, in 1992, overwhelmingly welcomed by his people. He now lives a quiet life at his Palace, with his close family.

During the interview, he remembers the time of the World War II which coincided with his young adulthood and the tough decisions he had to make in the name of just democracy (a real historical and life lesson), the dramatic moment when Romania, a 'small' country in east Europe, like many others, was simply abandoned by the 'big' countries - the UK and USA, despite the fact that Romania was among the 'winners' of the war...

All these things must be said and known because, as he says, "you can forgive, but you must not forget because if you forget what happened, you never learn."

HM Queen Ana is the very symbol of wisdom, patience, just humbleness, kindness and devotion. With great strength of character, she says about their status as royalty in a small European country: "We have lived two lives, remember. We can mix with our cousins who have royal duties and we also have duties as simple people; we've got a fence between but we can jump over." What must it feel like to live in-between? Most probably great strength and faith.

One very important issue that HM King Mihai raises is the necessity for the European Union to define its position in terms of religion. He asks EU leaders to define our religion principle and include it among constitutional rights - essential, to me, in our post-modern global society.

Asked what she plans to do now for Romania, HM Queen Ana simply and deeply says: "To be." - how important and vital, not only for their people but also for the whole world, as an example of normal and just living...

"The Tale of Despereaux" - Helping to educate our children

In a world where authentic values are so difficult to teach and instill, movies like "The Tale of Despereaux" prove to be real companions in our mission as parents.

I simply loved how the 'out of the box' character appealingly presented the idea of fight against fear and honorable attitude towards events in our life.

Many kids can ask their parents so many essential questions after seeing this cartoon movie: What is justice? What is honor? What is truth? What is fear and how to fight it? What is control and who wants to control us and how? - The question is - are we ready, as parents to give them the right answers?

In a country which suffered from a totalitarian regime for several decades, this movie proves to be an interesting starting point for the discussion of fear and its paralysis effect on communities. I only wish it had been better marketed so that more kids and parents could come to the cinema.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Australia: Exploring Your Own Self

Australia - directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Brandon Walters - is, to be sure, a movie not to be missed. I simply loved the representative images of Australia. Who can resist them? ... The film wonderfully captures the spirit of the place - with its deep magic, racial and historic drama, spectacular scenery, all wrapped up in a beautiful story on family, love, inter-culture, faith...

My mom and I were impressed and enchanted all the same. The colours, the music, the real-life drama are simply spectacular!

Australia is, indeed, a magical place - very well marketed by the movie team in a very convincing way.

What does it mean "to drive"? Who is "a drover"? What is the limit between local culture and 'civilisation'? How does the native land revolte against all artificiality and human selfishness? Answers to all these questions, and more, are explored in a quest for doing justice to the Aborigines and understanding human interactivity from a more profound view.

In fact, all these questions transcend locality and refer further to us all, irrespective of the place we live in...For 2 hours and 40 min, this is a gripping experience that no one can regret. A really great project!