Synopsis

The Dragon, the Most Dragonish (Mircea Diaconu), and the Emperor (Victor Rebengiuc) battle for control over the world using various schemes and cunning tactics.

The Secret of the secret weapon (1988) - by Alexandru Tatos - comedy film online on CINEPUB

Directed by: Alexandru Tatos
Cast: Adrian Păduraru, Dem Rădulescu, Mircea Diaconu, Carmen Galin, Aristide Teica, Mitică Popescu, Manuela Hărăbor, Horaţiu Mălăele, Emilia Dobrin, Victor Rebengiuc, Coca Bloos
Script: Alexandru Tatos
Producers: Lucian Dante Gologan
Cinematography by: Vivi Drăgan Vasile
Edited by: Mircea Ciocâltei
Sound: ing. Tiberiu Borcoman
Muzică: Horia Moculescu
Year: 1988
Category: feature film
Genre: Comedy
Duration: 88 minutes

14,752 – Cinepub viewers

PLOT SUMMARY

Once upon a time, there was an emperor who had an exceedingly beautiful daughter. She was in love with a brave young man and, at the same time, coveted by a dragon whom the emperor wanted to slay with the help of a formidable weapon he had invented: the weapon that shot from behind. When the dragon comes into possession of the weapon, only the brave young man is able to defeat him and thus win the hand of the exceedingly beautiful princess.

AWARDS

  • 1989 – ACIN – The special prize of the jury for the whole activity (Alexandru Tatos) and the Prize for decorations

CRITICAL REVIEWS

“Coincidentally, we see, in a short span of time, a film with ‘once upon a time,’ but not with ‘creatures of fantasy,’ but of… laughter. Thus, the Emperor from ‘The Secret of the Secret Weapon’ is an emperor, the Dragon is a dragon, etc., but as much as they are comical, they seem to need a helping hand. Victor Rebengiuc’s sovereign gets tangled up in everything, from clothes and wigs to theory and practice, from waging war to educating and marrying off the Beauty (his daughter), from the faith of his subjects to the respect of his neighbors. A kind of Aguirre, the wrath of the gods, in a parodic version, where madness becomes debility. Not without purpose, however. Touchingly straight — obviously, beyond laughter — is Mircea Diaconu, truly the most dragonish dragon, because he suffers ‘like a dog in love.’ Frankenstein with fangs on hand and arias sung on the cello, inventive but born without luck, insolent or obedient, as the situation requires, malevolent without conviction and remaining at the tail of the cart out of vocation, the Dragon seems in an incessant… recycling, hoping to achieve some success. Indeed, this is the great lesson offered by the so-called cousin and ‘terror,’ the genius of evil, disguised in all sorts of costumes, from the ‘spirit of the place’ (and a spirit cannot be dressed to the throat!) to the leather jacket with spikes, Carmen Galin being irresistibly charming in all her roles. She is effective, seductive, deceitful, disguises herself, promises, strikes, never resting for a moment, and, as terrifying as she wants to be, Carmen Galin, perhaps, has never been more beautiful than now, in that crazy… crazy world, overwhelmed by characters, but also by actors in love with that kind of madness called play.” (Magda Mihăilescu, Cinema no. 8, August 1989)

“Apparently, the director-screenwriter plays, inventing a fairy-tale world with dragons and handsome youths, good fairies and witches, emperors and Ilene Cosânziene (whose meaning he changes more than once), engaging all characters in a tremendous farce, in a dizzying burlesque carousel, but the film is by no means a game; the director speaks many truths, combats human stupidity, absurdity, abnormality, nonsense, aberration, in the context of a meaningful plot, with a pronounced anti-war and anti-totalitarian message, this in the midst of the year… 1989.” (Călin Căliman, Ecart, September 25, 2003)

THE DIRECTOR ABOUT THE FILM

”The film — which I worked on with great pleasure — is unlike anything I’ve done before, but in fact, I’ve returned to the concerns of my early theater beginnings: commedia dell’arte. That is, I wanted to make a comedy that goes straight into farce. I also wanted ‘The Secret of the Secret Weapon’ to be in the clothes of today, when the young viewer, accustomed to seeing cosmic rockets and other super-modern machinery, no longer believes in cloaks, clubs, and dragons that delighted our childhood.'”

TRIVIA

  • The first version of the screenplay, “Sânziana and Pepelea” (based on Vasile Alecsandri’s work), was written by Tatos in 1978, during attempts at a Romanian-French co-production. Following this, in 1983, a version titled “Beware of Dragons” was developed for the thematic plan of 1984. However, it was rejected by the leadership of the Romanian Cinematography Council (CCES), and the director was offered the project “Darkening,” which he himself had proposed to the One Film House a few years earlier. The film entered production on February 15, 1987, and was completed in March 1988. At that point, various modifications were requested by the leadership of the CCES to “dynamize the pace and strengthen its comedic effectiveness.” After these adjustments were made, the film was “forgotten” in boxes for over a year, and its premiere took place at the “Luceafărul” cinema, as it was not deemed worthy of the “Scala” cinema, the official premiere venue for Romanian films.
  • Before the conclusion of filming, actor Adrian Păduraru’s mustache is shaved off so that he can play the role of Leonaş in the film “Cucoana Chiriţa.” Since there was no continuity, Alexandru Tatos requests the interruption of production until Păduraru’s mustache grows back.
  • For the role of the Young Man, actor Șerban Ionescu also auditioned.
  • Initially, the duo Burtă-Verde and Gâtlej-Uscat was supposed to be portrayed by Jean Constantin and Radu Gheorghe.
  • The lyrics of the songs are written by Aurel Storin.
  • Combined filming takes place at the “Lenfilm” Studio.

LINES

  • The Grand Adviser: “When you start to suspect, you end up going crazy.”
  • Dragon: “What’s the secret of the weapon, dear?”
    Terror: “How would I know if it’s secret?!”
    Dragon: “We’ll find out because secrets exist to be discovered.
  • Emperor: “Why make mistakes today that can be made tomorrow?”
  • Grand Adviser: “Shall we have a wedding or a war?”
    Emperor: “Both, you fool, because where there’s a dance, there’s also suspicion.”
  • Emperor: “The more barbaric a war, the more sacred its cause must be. It’s my contribution to the theory of wars. History will need it to justify its massacres.”
  • Dragon: “Because of women, you end up killing your friends, and because of friends, you end up killing your women.”

ARTICLES

  • „The Secret of the Secret Weapon” – film chronicle – Irina Coroiu – 1989 – aarc.ro
  • „The Secret of the Secret Weapon” – Călin Căliman – 1989 – aarc.ro
  • The Secret of the Secret Weapon (1989) – Bogdan JITEA – 2023 – iiccmer.ro

This premiere is part of a national archive project supported by the Romanian National Film Centre.
Special thanks goes to the Romanian Filmmakers Union and to the Romanian Film Archive.

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