Posts Tagged dictator

Mad Max: Fury Road – a burning world

After watching the movie, I can say the trailer does it justice, while at the same time leaving out one of the best side stories. Most important, it works. The images got stuck in my mind since seeing it before Fast and Furious 7, and I knew I have to watch it.

You’ve got in this trailer the beautifully mastered start of the movie, with the broken rhythm of reality for a mind lost in madness. You’ve got the oppressive ruler who aims to bend life to his own will. You’ve got the action pumping crazily like the flames exploding in a city set alight by a dozen of arsonists at the same time. And you’ve got the deep, dark and broken voice of the guy whose eyes see it all: Max. The mad one. No madder than the rest of the world.
And there is something else, which charmed me at first sight: the images worked with surrealist refinement. I know, this is some quite pretentious language I am using right now, but please believe I cannot help it.
I’m also pondering on how much to reveal as not to spoil it all for you, but to say enough of what I really want to express.

After debating with myself, I have decided I will not reveal anything about the very first image on screen, which made me whisper to my friend, Ana: “Wow, it looks amazing!” (and it wasn’t a flowing summer dress, a pair of gorgeous shoes or a picturesque landscape – well, a landscape it was, burning your retina rather than soothing it)
What I will tell you is how impressed I was with the start of the movie in itself. It has all it needs: good timing, good rhythm, great vision over the jerked movements of the outside seen by a mind gone mad, over the haunting fears and regrets lurking inside.
A small gem in its own, it sets high expectations for the rest of the movie, while it gives you just enough to be satisfied from the very first steps into the story. I would say it was a clever strategy from an experienced director, in line with basic entertainment (and not only) principles: give them enough to keep them interested, but not too much as to overwhelm them. Or put it this way: meet people’s expectations as much as needed not to frustrate them, but go one step further and surprise them as well. This makes the best scaffold for any good entertainment product for the large audience, after all.

In this respect, George Miller marks point after point with Mad Max: Fury Road . I must confess that I have seen the first series a good while ago, probably as a young teenager, and I am not that young any longer (by biological age, at least). So besides Mel Gibson’s charisma, some good action and a misty, faint image of the post-apocalyptic world in that series I cannot remember much. Of course I have always loved Mel Gibson and I can confess that the beautiful madness in his passionate eyes cannot be equalled, at least by my (emotional or not) standards. But then Mad Max: Fury Road  gives you more than one great charismatic actor burning from inside out on the screen. The new movie brings a truly memorable world, the madness spreading through and along, in such a way in which it becomes almost touchable. It imprints its setting into the viewers’ minds with powerful and haunting images not soon to be forgotten. And it does this while pumping crazy action scenes one after another.
Apparently, it has been reported (according to imdb.com) that this was the director’s intention: beautiful settings and breath-taking action to speak for itself.

I have mentioned the images so many times now that I need to give you a few examples, without spoiling the story. See the trailer: the War Rig (huge oil truck), escorted by a few other vehicles, rolling down in a dessert landscape, under a bright sky. Then watch the chasing party catching their tail, the radioactive sand storm, the young woman in bride like attire walking from the oil tank to the truck’s cabin, the beauty and sadness in Furiosa’s eyes. See the water flowing from a burnt huge rock to the people waiting for a drop to keep them going.
And then what you don’t see in the trailer is even better: the night scenes, engulfed in a surreal hue of blue, almost glowing but still heavy like the shadows of death, of all the lost souls who roam a wasted land not entirely alive, but not dead yet.

The way this post-apocalyptic world has been designed and set into motion looks most compelling. No one is spared pain or disease, not even the rulers and their packs of War Lords. Tumours, blisters, poisoned lungs, weakened limbs are the most common things. Never mind the masses waiting at the foot of the high rocks: they seem to exist out of inertia, only due to this self-preservation instinct that all forms of life, but even more human beings, with their sense of self, posses.
Immortan Joe, one of the three dictatorial rules of this world, decides who gets what around his Citadel. He gives the masses speeches and a little water every day, with a voice tone and tactic reminiscent of Hitler. He keeps the right to breeding to himself and his own, he decides for all the rest.

For someone as interested as I am in society and humanity values, certain scenes have a strong impact. I found myself impressed at showing how a handful of peopl decide who gets to have the basic survival needs met and who doesn’t. Immortan Joe gives them words and a little water, while growing lush gardens and vegetables on the top of the rocks for him and his chosen ones, on whose support his power rests on. Somehow this is not necessarily a post-apocalyptic world of the future, it happens today and most people do not think of it, some probably say it’s just the way things are, we cannot do anything to change them, and some even support this state of facts, as they probably feel they are the chosen and entitled ones.
There was another thread of the story which touched me. The character appears in the trailer, but you would not expect much of him, nor think he actually has an important role whatsoever. Besides the two strong lead characters, Max and Furiosa, this guy grows a personality and his personal development is one of the most delightful parts of the whole movie.

While he is still only chasing targets set for him by a choice deprived society, he embodies the fanatic. However, there is innocence in this character throughout. In a certain scene when he gets blessing from the big guy, and my friend Ana was somehow showing her disapproval, I whispered to her, actually with tears stuck in my throat: “give the faintest string of hope, even in death, to somebody who has nothing to expect in this life, and you’ve turned them fanatic”.
To my delight, this character has kept his innocence and supported my observations.

Without spoiling the action, the twists and turns, the dark humour and how the story grows in between the fighting scenes, I can say that Mad Max: Fury Road  is a movie about hope. It shows what happens to people who do still have hope in a non-egotistic way, as they share it with others (Imperator Furiosa). It shows how one without hope, who lost a lot and who is still haunted by all the losses can go mad (Mad Max). It gives the perfect image for egotistic greedy unscrupulous people, who build all their hopes and expectations on the shoulders of others and of taking whatever fits them from all. It gives a touching delicate image of the ones who have just received hope and now have not only what to fight for, but what to die for fighting.
At some point, Max talks about not having hope, a powerful striking statement, but I will let you discover for yourselves.

What this movie is not is a “feminist propaganda” product. Whoever (sorry I cannot be bothered to check) uttered such non-sense could possibly be a person with nothing else to say or do in order to attract more attention on themselves.
Strong women? So now you have to be a feminist and to spread feminist propaganda (whatever that is) to approve women are strong and can fight for themselves, need be?
Strong women escaping an oppressive regime? Please, just read the newspapers and you will see over and over again examples of women standing for their human rights and against discrimination in regimes where they are mere breeders and sexual objects, as well as servants for the man around them.
Or is it really so far-fetched that, in a post-war world ruled by warrior men, who take all the can take and make the law with no respect to other human beings (who are breeders, blood banks or just cockroaches lurking at the foot of the Citadel), women would be treated as providers of babies and pleasure and nothing more? Is it now?

The two main characters in this movie play their part beautifully and success depends on both of them. Imperator Furiosa chases a dream from her childhood, fights for her own when nobody cares for women other than they themselves, but finds her dream shattered. She cannot give up on her paradise, is ready to carry on running to catch its illusory shapes. Max helps take the right turn, his madness proves to be the needed element to change the world whilst making it collapse inside. While his drive is survival and as such he finds himself alongside the fugitives, at some point his perspective changes as well, the hope he lost stays alive in these women, and he cannot fight its bonding strength.
And, as men are said to tend to, he comes up with a solution, in the end.

Last, but not least, George Miller thinking this movie as standing on its own and not a remake of his earlier works proved brilliant. Not a fan of remakes whatsoever, I appreciate how he used a setting and a character to create something new and to emphasize on society and the way it is still heading today.

As we were getting out of the cinema, Ana told me this was the craziest action movie she’s seen in a while, comparing it only to Kill Bill. Then later on, back home, she expressed she liked this one more than Ex Machina, yet another production that I have to write on as I found it clever, refreshing and haunting at the same time.
Definitely, it is the movie which made me think, debate and analyse the most of all I have recently seen.

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Why I left Romania

If anybody asks me why I have left my country, Romania, I think the best answer I could give is by showing them the following video. It all happened in Bucharest just a couple of weeks ago, on the 10th of August, and if you are not a Romanian you won’t, of course, understand what they say. Be patient enough and watch it through, pay attention at what age group the people in this video are, the aggressors especially, and you might get a good impression on what I am also going to tell you.

The video is filmed at the so-called “Sunday walk” initiated by the most popular journalists (they do not really deserve to be called such, but never mind) of the television channel Antena 3. They had been broadcasting like mad hours and hours of a talk show after the owner of the media trust had been found guilty of fraud and prosecuted to go to jail, on the 8th of August 2014. They were inciting people to go out in the streets and protest because their beloved mogul is being condemned on political reasons and without real grounds, of course while being clean as a new born baby’s mind. They were clearly stating that this was all the work of the Romanian President, that the court was acting as a puppet and there was no justice in what they ruled.
In other words, one of the major television channels in Romania was making serious accusations regarding the Romanian President and the Romanian court. I wonder if any of them made a formal complaint to any superior forums, such as the European Court of Human Rights. If not, I wonder why.

The news about this Romanian mogul has made it even into British media, as far as I know in one newspaper I would not like to link to. His name is Dan Voiculescu, his wealth rising to approximately 350 million euros, and he is now in jail for the fraudulent purchase of the Romanian Institute for Food Research. He was prosecuted to 10 years in jail, for money laundering and buying the institute for 60 million euros under its worth, by fraudulent side agreement and paperwork, thus causing the Romanian state to lose these money.

Now let me tell you a few things about this “charming” pensioner, a media mogul with such an impressive fortune, and the founding president of the Conservative Party, who twice initiated the procedure for the dismissal of the Romanian President. Both attempts failed, as not enough Romanians came to vote. Anyhow, I am not a supporter of any of the current political parties in Romania and I am certainly not a supporter of any particular politician there. The only thing I can say in this matter is that, while they have tried twice to cause the dismissal of Traian Basescu, the still acting President, they have failed.
Also, Voiculescu is not the first wealthy Romanian politician to go to jail during the President’s mandate. A prominent figure in the Social-Democratic Party (the old Communist Party with a new name, a political group which has ruined Romania after the hasted execution of the former dictator), the named Adrian Nastase had been jailed for the first time in 2012, as being found guilty of acts of corruption while being the Prime Minister. He got out of jail under parole just a year later.
Then, at the beginning of this year, according to the Romanian media, another case was built against him, regarding bribery, usage of fake documents with the Romanian Border Agency and blackmailing. He got another 2 years in jail, but funny enough, got out of jail again just last Thursday, on the 22nd of August, as he had served a third of his sentence.

The good part is that these people have been jailed. The bad part is they are getting out of jail so soon. It really enrages me to know that a friend of mine, from my parents village, has spent about 2-3 years in jail (if I remember correctly) for helping some of his mates transport and sell big bags of flour they had stolen from their work place. The story is that these boys, all in their late teenage years or early twenties, were working at a food depot. Their employer was exploiting them, failing on a continuous basis to pay them their salary. Meanwhile, they were struggling back home, as they all came from families facing financial difficulties. The employer and owner of the depot kept saying that they will get their money next week, when next week came he never paid them their whole salary, so the boys decided to take their part by stealing and selling some flour bags.
While I do not commend what they have done, I do understand the circumstances. I had visited this friend when he was in jail and after he got out I understand he did well. Now we are not in touch anymore, he started working as a lorry driver and I think currently lives in Italy. I knew this boy and he is not your common thief. He came from a family struggling, with a drunkard father whom his mother finally divorced, had to pay him his part of the flat so that she can still live there with the two boys, and then lost her job due to the factory she worked in not doing so well.
To see that the wealthy and corrupted people in Romania, leading figures in politics, get out of prison in no time while young boys from struggling families get to spend years as inmates does enrage me.

But now let’s get back to Dan Voiculescu.
I am blessed to have amazing friends back in Romania, whom I miss, but whom I am also very glad to know. Nowadays Facebook and blogging helps us keep in touch and, while we are miles apart, I can still appreciate their friendship, all that I learn from them and all that we share. One of them is Mugur Grosu, an amazing artist and Romanian journalist (a species in peril) who has worked, with a whole team, on investigating what happened to Ceausescu’s money. While it was known that the dictator had an impressive fortune for himself and his wife, it has never been truly found and claimed back by the Romanian government. That money should have come back to the people, as they have been gathered through the people’s work and misery.
Guess what: as evidence suggests, evidence investigated by my good friend and amazing journalist and artist Mugur Grosu and the team he worked with, Ceausescu’s money has never been deposited in personal accounts with foreign banks. The accounts were opened under the name of the trusted Securitate officers (political police) or other high ranked officials working under the command of the dictator. One of the most trusted and most successful ones was Dan Voiculescu. He led the operations of the Romanian company “Crescent”, which was responsible for massive exports for the construction industry, and apparently made a profit of 1.5 billion dollars.

Now it really becomes clear why Ceausescu was shot after a very rushed trial. He had to be put down before he could talk about the money. His trusted directors, such as Dan Voiculescu, had to be able to keep the fortune and live happily ever after, as successful businessmen in a country where people like me could not work as journalists anymore. A country where the elderly go to protest in the streets against the “unjust” prosecution of the media mogul, and they attack the young journalists from other television channels. What the young lady in the above video asked the pensioners was why they protest against the prosecution of a person found to have stolen from the Romanian state. Have they been with him when he did it? Have they shared his fraudulent profit with him? And then a disgustingly coward man with grey hair kicks the journalist from behind. And later in the video we see an old man lifting his clutch as if to hit the cameraman with it.

Yes, Romania is unfortunately a very young country with no real set of values at the moment. The older generation either regrets Ceausescu’s time, or support today’s big thieves, successful businessman who have profited from the money they got into accounts for the old Communist regime. These are the people who vote massively and whose vote can be bought with a bag of flour and couple of bottles of oil. These are the people who have voted for the former President Iliescu, after he summoned the miners from Jiu Valley to come and restore order in the capital, where young people, mainly students and intellectuals, where PEACEFULLY protesting in the University Square against the government composed mainly of ex-communists. They voted for Iliescu again after people were killed in the streets by these miners, after the opposition parties head offices had been raided and destroyed by these brutes, some of which were suspected not to be real working class after all. And the older generations still voted for him.

And, after all, they are the generation who brought up many people my age, who have learnt the same lesson: know your place and, if you have the opportunity, go on and make your fortune with monkey business. Everybody does the same anyway. What, do you think these journalists and intellectuals are not being paid to claim they mean what they say? Come on, don’t be a fool, they are paid and they just do what they are told to.

Yes, my generation and the younger ones had their own University Square protests, against the government austerity measures and against mining with cyanides for big foreign profit in the Western Carpathian Mountains. They have won, so far, but who knows for how long? Meanwhile, people like me are not needed, after all, how many young intellectuals who don’t like or practice monkey business can one corrupt country accommodate? And not to forget that you might get attacked by enraged 50+ men if you dare do your job and report on how people ask for one of the wealthiest man in the country, with communist money, to be released from prison. Or for part of his wealth not to be confiscated, so that their beloved television channel can still broadcast and fill their empty lives with filthy circus.

I think this kind of sums it all up why I am no longer in Romania, but trying to live a peaceful life while earning a decent salary, travelling, doing my writing and getting ready to help my parents when they have to retire on pitiful pensions. However, I intend to write more about the matter and even, in a future article, explain the cultural and historical differences between the provinces, which make the whole country not to stick well together. These days I have read a very good material about how Transylvania, where I come from, was brought down and has not benefited at all from being part of Romania, and, in a way, my feelings agree with it.

 

 

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