A Lover’s Diary.

The Soldier's Book - by Doina Rusti, Marius Donici - CINEPUB

Director: Doina Ruști, Marius Donici
Script by: Doina Ruști
Cast: Adriana Titieni, Dragoș Panait, Geo Spânulescu, Adrian Lepădatu
Production by: Rolistene Film
Producer: Adalbert Lazăr, Doina Ruști
Cinematography by: Marius Donici, Daniel Scripcariu
Editor: Marius Donici, Doina Ruști
Year: 2018
Genre: documentary
Duration: 35 minutes
Subtitles: english

7,969 – Cinepub viewers


This is the real story of a book that gave birth to another one. It’s about a man who fell in love and started writing his own thoughts on the original book. It was 1918 when he was a prisoner. Starting from his brief notes, the story gradually reveals not only the unhappiness of a person in love, but also other biographical details. His name is Fănică and he’s a prisoner at Severin, in a prison under German-Hungarian control. However, this small detail does not seem to concern him. In love with Ana, he mentions their encounters, his feelings and desires, progressively starting to identify with the characters of the novel.

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The book on whose margins he decided to keep a diary is Jean d’Agrève (1898), written by viscount Marie-Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé, and was quite a popular book at the time, adapted for the big screen in 1922 (film directed by René Leprince). Slowly, the exotic atmosphere of the novel, brimming with adventure and love, is transferred to Fănică’s disposition and the cruel events of those war times become no more than a neutral framework.

The information, although compressed, represents nevertheless a valuable source of data covering the Romanian mentalities at the beginning of the century. Fănică is both a painter and a mechanic (top profession at the time) and leads an adventurous life. Before the war he had met almost 40 women, whose names he meticulously writes on the margins of the book. Next to some of these names, he also often mentions their address or occupation. We learn that he lives in Bucharest, where he has a lover, insignificant detail by comparison with his interest in Ana from Severin.

The documentary fragmentarily recreates Fănică’s story, starting from his annotations, but then involving authentic documents from the national archives. His actions, personal details, but also the people he mentions, work together for the sole goal of helping us bring to surface the real biography of a young man, full of life, dreams and hopes. His last annotation is dated June 5th, 1918. The book itself has its own story. After travelling for hundreds of kilometres away from Severin, in November 1918, the book ends up in the hands of a deserter (caught, shot for treason). One month later, Romania rejoins the war and reclaims its territories under occupation. The vital force of the soldier pierced through time and space, his almost faded annotations connect the reader to a man alive and present – one of the anonymous soldiers of World War I.


„She loved Ana, but he also noted the names of another 40 women that ”sympathized” him. He is a hero of war, he is a prisoner, a deserter, and his story is written in the pages of this novel which I discovered in my childhood. I always wore it with me, hoping that someday I will find the traces he has left in history. And it happened to meet some people that were interested in this soldier’s life as much as I was. Together we made a documentary film, with the sole purpose of integrating the collective memory.” (Doina Ruști, doinaruș


  • FELACOS 2019 –  5th Long and Short Film Festival of Santiago, Chile.