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To cut the Gordian knot: “Scarred Hearts” – film review

    Some literary critics consider that the biography stole the work “of the great diseased author of the Romanian literature”. Some others, on the contrary, consider that in fact, Max Blecher (he is the one we are talking about) doesn`t even have a biography, since his short life is a kind of a freezing inside the disease. If those specialists are still trying to find the angle of approaching him, we can imagine the hesitations, the perplexities, the fears of the film critics in front of a possible entering of a camera into the body of a work, that I believe aches terribly, with every touch. For many critics, the mere fact that Radu Jude dared to approach this author`s work was considered a quality per se, which was able to let him off the hook of the bringing back the long discussion about the issue of adapting a book for the big screen, with its always invocated spirit of the book, the fata morgana of an art which is too connected to the ground, etc. Jude didn`t bother the undertones. He just cut through flesh in front of a work of a merciless sensorial keenness, where the lucidity of the autoscopy of the person “who intimately lives with his own death”, as Mihail Sebastian said, sometimes becomes
difficult to bear. “Not with a long term abstract, nebulous death. It`s his own death, precise, definite, familiar in every tiny detail, like an object.” – the writer continued. To be more precise, the director-screenwriter cut the Gordian knot. What can the cinema do with such sensations? “A debilitating pain was humming through my head.” Or: “A claw that anchored in the flesh petrified by anesthesia”. “The perfect uselessness of a splendid day”. “I felt my head estranged in the skeleton of the skull”. You must be crazy or maybe a genius to throw them together in the mincing machine of the cinema. Radu Jude carefully fished them out of all Blecher`s works, Scarred Hearts, Adventures in Immediate Unreality, The Lit-Up Burrow: Sanatorium Journal and hung them up, on the screen, while the images tell a story. The quotes are extracted with a certain purpose. Even if they just hang there helplessly, relating with the rendering of the real pain, from a certain moment, the texts seem to want to catch up with the images, to try to go along together, if anything, until they make peacein the end: when the hero says “I was lying on the cement floor…”, telling a dream, the words fly out from his mouth and instantly reach their place, at the upper part of the screen. It`s a coincidence, an intertitle-image, like a striking final note, because if we are imprudent enough to have a look at Blecher`s pages, then the film, in its whole, looks like an eviscerated body, that only the carcass is left of, a former gorgeous animal whose fur is put on display, to our curiosity and human compassion. Thus, the viewer who finds himself at a certain distance from the literature, Scarred Hearts / Inimi cicatrizate is an explicit story, admirably shot on film (by Marius Panduru) about the unhappiness of a young man. Emanuel (Lucian Teodor Rus) lived in the first decades of the past century, who - because of an incurable disease for those times (the bone tuberculosis) – was condemned to be the prisoner of a plaster sarcophagus, from his waist up, in a sanatorium by the seaside. It`s a sort of passage towards death; and its phantom is banished away by defying it. They joke quite a lot, starting with dr.Ceafalan (Șerban Pavlu) who accompanies the placing of the plaster patients on a special bed with the incentive: “Let`s get the meat rolls on the grill!” The one who is the most experienced in making desperate fun of his own condition is Emanuel himself, whose cohabiting with the tragedy is not allowed to show its teeth. He pokes fun at himself, speaks in commercial slogans adapted to the situation (“Two words say it all: Pott`sDisease”) or in famous quotes (The winter of our discontent…”)…and that happens when he doesn`t provoke intellectual disputes about Cioran, NaeIonescu, Rudolf Carnap or debates about anti-Semitism and the Iron Guard, that are not found in Max Blecher`s books. The intrusion of history is the filmmaker`s choice and it is a massive addition that does no good, nor bad to the film, as long as it is part of what is left of Blecher, a narrative frame. Even if the writer was far from enjoying a fake pudicity, in the film there is anostentatiously vulgar way of speaking of the young educated people from the old days who, in reality, were used to follow the censorship of the education and of the habits of those years which was far from the contemporary looseness; and that is the director`s invention which can be justified as a burst of the overstrung vitality, a way of bidding defiance to death. The same as the sex scenes with the mysteriously-dramatic Solange – their volcanic instinct doesn’t take account of their condition of being a man and a woman caught in the straps of their disease. The difficulty of finding a less painful position, the young woman`s leg stuck in a metal corset projected up in the air, almost triumphantly, remind us of Cronenberg`sCrash; only visually because the human stake was inexistent there. In Scarred Hearts, such scenes are part of the strategy of living what is left of life, next to the gatherings with a Fellini touch and next to the romantic walks by the sea. Emanuel has a fever of being part of all that, as death insinuates on his face. In the last scene of getting on the train that would take him away from the sanitarium, he almost looks like a corpse. I confess I don`t understand the dire
ctor`s choice of accompanying this peaceful agony with a legionary song. It was not the torments of the age he lived in that influenced the writer`s life and work. I have never imagined that after watching a film inspired by Max Blecher you can leave the cinema “low-spirited, wasted” as the sameMihail Sebastian would say. In this case, the book core is left protected by an exasperating lucidity. I was hoping that at least in the end we wouldn`t have to cope with the aggressiveness of a strange body. 


Tags: cronica de film inimi cicatrizate, max blecher, radu jude, scarred hearts film, scarred hearts film review