The las days of Iacob’s life, a good man and an honest miner
Cinepub the Romanian films online platform adds to the collection of movies by Mircea Daneliuc the masterpiece „Iacob”, a „heavy” movie, inspired by Geo Bogza’s short story „The Death of Iacob Onisia”, but dressed in the obsessions and the dark atmosphere specific to the director’s movies in which, under terrible oppressions, individuals and communities subsist. The members of the cast are memorable, and Dorel Vișan, outstanding.
Director: Mircea Daneliuc
Scriptwriter: Mircea Daneliuc, inspired from writer Geo Bogza’s work
Cast: Dorel Vișan, Cecilia Bârbora, Ion Fiscuțeanu, Ion Besoiu, Florin Zamfirescu
Produced by: Casa de filme 5
Cinematography by: Florin Mihăilescu
Film editing by: Maria Neagu
Category: feature film
Duration: 111 minutes
118,165 – Cinepub viewers
Apuseni Mountains gold mines, in the ‘30s, at winter. Iacob Onisia, a Transylvanian miner, is wrongly suspected of having stolen some gold. As punishment, he is transferred to another mine, farther away from his home. The effort is gruelling, the way home never-ending. At Christmas, to shorten the time required to travel to his family, Iacob secretly climbs into the mine’s cable car. But the grinding of the wheels stops: for two days during the holidays the mine shuts down the power. Iacob remains suspended at 200 meters above the abyss…
„Iacob” is Mircea Daneliuc’s last film before the Revolution, and the first after a six-year break caused by the film Glissando, which upset the communist regime so badly that it was forbidden and the director tore his party membership card as a sign of protest. “Through Iacob I reach the long-waited moment of my detachment from Glissando. It is only now that I feel it is outside of me, in my past, as an object”, confessed director and scriptwriter Daneliuc. Miner Iacob does not have very high expectations. He wants to live a decent life, under the given circumstances.
His large family is not even his own. He married the widow of a suicidal man, and above all, he is torn by a bitter jealousy, which makes his existence, suffocated by the authoritarian paranoid communist regime, even less comfortable. „Aparently, the action of the film takes place in the ‘30s … but only apparently”, says the director.
Iacob indeed lives in the ‘30s only on paper and in presentations, while, in fact, everything that happens in the film is a clear reference to the communist regime. It is a strategy creators (filmmakers, as well as writers) living in communism used in order to avoid censorship. To make the message even clearer, Daneliuc leaves aside the plot from Geo Bogza’s short story, which was practically news in brief about the death of a miner, and creates an almost allegorical character, who ends up fighting nature, for his right to live. And he loses.
Iacob, a film-manifest of helplessness, is a masterpiece, maybe Daneliuc’s best film – critics’ consensus, from both the communist period and the present. By the critics’ side, there were the viewers, who lived the experience of Daneliuc’s films in the cinemas of the communist era: „And there are many, many more, all those who filled up the cinema halls during the agony times of the communist dictatorship, to see „Glissando”, „Iacob”, to take a breath of fresh freedom in that closed up space.
It seemed daring, going to these movies. We knew them by heart. Mircea Daneliuc had the courage to fight the censorship for his films, he was standing on his own against the regime, and we didn’t resist through culture, but through his own resistance.” (Viorel Ilișoi)
„Tough, brutal and poor life lived by miners, and especially by Iacob, impeccably played by Dorel Vişan, who probably makes his best performance ever, is rendered vividly and credibly, through a realism that avoids „miserabilism” and catches shades of allegory about guilt and responsibility, with references to the totalitarian reflexes of the regime of the time.” (Ionuț Mareș – www.ziarulmetropolis.ro )
„Last but not least, the film is a cruel, naturalistic analysis of the physical agony of a Guinea pig individual. Death is seen through the cold magnifying glass of the clinician and this undertaking will be taken to paroxysm in „The 11th Commandment”. (Lucian Georgescu – www.mirceadaneliuc.ro )
„What are you up to?
I want to steal some fold, close the door.”
„You steal it or not, it’s the same thing.”
„Iacob, Vinj is beating her sensless!
It’s his house, his woman, what can I do?”
„Jacob, you must live your life! Damn it!”
„Couldn’t you find a better time?”
- Transilvania International Film Festival – Mircea Daneliuc Retrospective – Romania, 2015
- Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2015 – Mircea Daneliuc Retrospective – Greece, 2015
- Making Waves Festival, New Romanian Cinema, New York –Micea Daneliuc Tribute – USA, 2015
- Berlin International Film Festival – Germany, 1988
- European Felix Award for Best Film and Best Actor (Dorel Vișan)
- Grand Prize, Best Cinematography (Florin Mihăilescu), Best Actor (Dorel Vișan), Best Editing (Maria Neagu), Best Soundtrack (Horea Murgu) and the Honorary Certificate (Cecilia Bârbora) – Romania, 1988 – ACIN, Romania, 1988