Licu, a Romanian story

Summary : “Licu, a Romanian story” is first and foremost the life of a man. The life of a 92-year-old man who has lived through everything: peace, war, communism, revolution and the post-revolution. During these 92 years, he suffered, loved, laughed and cried. “Licu” is not just a documentary film, it is above all a film about the passage of time, old age and our own fragility. Like any story, Licu’s is subjective. It is not a historical film but a story in which Licu is the hero. Each of us can find a part of ourselves through this film. The objects are also characters in their own right: the house, where the action takes place, is a place where despite the passing years things have not changed, the clock whose every beat is like that of a heart , television that fills the silence… Each image of the film is a photograph from an album. Today will become tomorrow. The present becomes past. “Licu” is an invitation to open the book of time.

Critical : For Westerners, talking about freedom is a form of courteous irreverence. In the mouth of this old man, Licu, it is something much deeper, much more powerful. Because the old man suffered the invasion of Romania at the end of the Second World War, and all the lot of brutalities that the Stalinist regime could cause. Ana Dimitrescu sets up her camera in a modest house where a widowed man, Licu, has lived for a long time. Time has settled into the walls, each object tells the long and sweet continuum of the years, while Ceausescu’s government crushed the Romanian people with its tyranny.

The way in which the director frees the words of this witness to Romanian history takes the place of the work of a photographer. She looks at objects, photographs, everyday things like a Christmas tree, a soup without salt, and each of her quotes contains a piece of this man’s existence. He is now alone in this house too big for him and he confides in a simple, endearing language, which seems that of a whole people who have suffered dictatorship and political insecurity. The director strives to create beauty in the link she makes between the story of man’s life and the ordinary things that make up the interior of his home. Quite rightly, she borrows a very neat, very noble black and white, to bring a superior, almost spiritual dimension to this story.

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Licu resembles each of the old men who populate our lives. It carries the memories of yesterday which will mark the eternity of tomorrow. He recounts childhood, laughter, escapes through the cold, distress, love also in the manner of a novelist who tells his life on the pages of a book. Modern life mixes with incredible grace with the memories of yesterday through the television screen which constitutes a kind of window on his inner world and that of the society around him.

Licu, a Romanian story pays a vibrant tribute to the elderly. The film reminds us of the energy that past generations put into building our universe which seems so obvious to us. It is a film that forces the viewer to take care of freedom, especially in the light of the powerful conflicts that are currently sweeping the eastern end of Europe. Rarely have we seen on the screens such a beautiful vision of the passage of time. Silences are sensitive. Each part of the house seems to hide a poem. Licu’s gaze and words tell of the fight for freedom. The man does not dwell on himself. Each arrest, each massacre, but also each of the little moments of joy that make up a family are opportunities to enjoy the present and to remember that freedom is a precious good.

Licu, a Romanian story – Ana Dumitrescu – review