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118. Uppercase Print; movie review

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Title : 118. Uppercase Print; movie review
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Cert TBA
128 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

I often watch movies which are based on fascinating concepts but are diluted by the director's presentation.
This was certainly the case with Uppercase Print which has the true story of a 16-year-old Romanian rebel at its heart.
In 1981, when the Communist stranglehold was its highest, Mugur Călinescu (Şerban Lazarovici) chalked slogans on walls in uppercase print, supporting the ideals of Free Europe Radio.
According to now-opened Securitate files, the Banksy-like trail around his home town caused consternation among the population.
The film uses the transcripts of the time which were released after the fall of the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu.
But between each statement, it shows often strangely stilted footage of Romania at the time the incident happened in the early 1980s.
These include folk songs or even people beating carpets!
The interviews show how minor Mugur's infractions were - a few chalked statements which appealed to people to think about their liberty - and yet how seriously they were taken.
The Securitate even goes so far as to paint them as an attempt to destabilise the government or even bring it down.
Then Mugur is caught and we see his responses to interrogation and those of his mother, father, friends and schoolteachers. There are also representations of the bugged conversations in the Călinescu home.
Radu Jude's film is a commentary on the oppressive state which has clear parallels with Orwell's 1984 with Mugur as a Winston Smith-type character, albeit much younger
Once I had become used to the film's style, I became immersed in the deadpan delivery of the Securitate files.
But I was bewildered by the selection of archive footage between each scene which appears to be trying to show slavish devotion to Ceaușescu who was executed a decade later and the communist party which was disbanded at the same time.
Perhaps Mugur planted a seed after all!

Reasons to watch: A veil lifted on Romania's past
Reasons to avoid: It demands background knowledge

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know? 
The Securitate's presence permeated society so deeply that it was believed one out of four Romanians was an informer. In truth, the Securitate deployed one agent or informer for every 43 Romanians, which was still large enough to make it practically impossible for dissidents to organise.

The final word. Radu Jude: "It started with a play of Gianina Cărbunariu, which was very interestingly made, by only using Securitate files. So she didn’t write a play, she basically made a collage. While thinking how to stage that, I had this idea that maybe this is only one layer of history, a secret history of the police. I would like to clash this history with another type of history, which is the audiovisual history of Romania from that time." Senses Of Cinema

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