Forest of the Hanged / Pădurea spânzuraților (Romania, 1964)

directed by Liviu Ciulei, drama, 156 min, eng subtitles

with Victor Rebengiuc, Anna Széles, Ștefan Ciubotăraș, György Kovács

Pădurea spânzuraților is the adaptation of a Romanian novel written by Liviu Rebreanu, that tells the story of a young man,Apostol Bologa, from Transylvania, part of the Austria-Hungary Empire, during the First World War. The kingdom of Romania (Moldavia and Wallachia) was on the opposite side, so Apostol Bologa finds himself in the difficult situation of fighting other Romanians. He is torn between his duty as a soldier and that as son of a nation, he tries to desert, but he is captured and has a tragic ending. The director had the inspiration of diminishing the slightly nationalist touches of the novel, not an easy task, considering that the Communist regime emphasized them, and concentrated his efforts on a universal story about friendship, moral dilemma and true versus artificial love. Apostol Bologa befriends his captain, a Czech named Klapka (played by Liviu Ciulei himself) and falls in love with a Hungarian girl, Ilona, who comforts him in the last moments of his life, during a silent dinner, a scene whose sadness is only surpassed by its beauty. Pădurea spânzuraților drew world's attention upon Romanian cinematography, as the movie was nominated to the Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival that year and Liviu Ciulei won the Best Director award.

Cannes Film Festival 1965 (Best director)