Modern Romanian Cinema or Modernity and Modernism Unfinished

Doru POP


As this issue of Ekphrasis is dedicated to an in-depth discussion about contemporary Romanian cinema, from the perspective of contextualizing notions like modern, modernism, modernist, modernistic and even more broadly, modernity, the main hypothesis of this contribution is that modernism remains an unfinished project. Using Malmkrog (2019), the most recent production directed by Cristi Puiu, one of the most acclaimed Romanian cinema makers today, as a starting point, this paper questions the limits of Romanian modern cinema. Asking how modernity and modernization, which are ongoing social and political processes in Romanian society, have influenced recent films and, more importantly, what are the true modernist resources of this cinema, the author discusses the problematic relationships between modern culture, the principles of modernist art and modern cinema. With several modernistic storytelling practices and modernized worldviews integral to what constitutes today the essence of the Romanian filmmaking, a debate is directed towards the film theories considering that the films created by authors like Cristian Mungiu or Cristi Puiu and many of their fellow cinema makers have produced a “modernist turn” in the national cinema. This contribution questions the theoretical and practical dimensions of the modernism in Romanian films, and provides another explanation, suggesting that Romanian films are marked by a specific thinking, one dominated by what can only be described as a metaphysics of modernity. Ultimately the authors claims, following Bruno Latour, that we must take into consideration the fact the Romanian films have never been modern, since the never-ending search for the impulses of modernity makes them forever non-modern moderns. Also, paraphrasing Habermas, this paper understands modernity as an eternally unfinished project.

Keywords: metaphysics, modern cinema, modernist, modernity, modernism, Romanian cinema

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.27.1