I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians recently screened at the Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema festival presented by The Romanian Film Initiative, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Jacob Burns Film Center. This film from Radu Jude kicked off a showcase of his work, which included his popular third film Aferim!. This film focuses on a World War II reenactment and through this lens a discussion of how history is remembered and presented is expanded upon.
I personally am only slightly familiar with Romanian history. Years ago I did research focused on the Romanian Revolution and at one point in my life I actually applied to teach English in Romania, though that trip never happened. In applying for that position and through my research I gained a very basic knowledge of Romania and in a brief moment of excitement was amazed that I did actually recognize some of the topics discussed within I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians. This film begins by introducing the viewers to the actress who will be playing the lead character, Mariana Marin. The actress, Ioana Iacob, describes how she and her character differ as well as how they relate. Mariana is dedicated to presenting a true reenactment of t Odessa massacre, which took place during World War II. She has collected actors, practiced reenactors, and other assorted people to help her present her vision. The issue is that in her focus on what truly happened, Mariana does not care how this reflects the history of Romania and the actions of the country during the war. As work continues on her project those who are involved begin to voice concerns, which includes threats of cancellation if she does not make vital changes. Mariana is very vocal about maintaining the truth, which she insists can be found in research, but that people choose to ignore.
I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians examines how citizens perceive the history of their country and how altering these perceptions can be seen as a threat. Mariana is fighting to show what truly happened, but in doing so she is revealing darker elements of the war that have often been ignored. This is something that occurs throughout historical presentations and research in not only Romania, but every country. Beyond looking at the history and her reenactment, the film also looks at Mariana’s personal life and share some insight into what is happening with her outside of her work. As someone who has spent a great deal of time examining history books and the historiography of topics, for those who haven’t seen that word before historiography is the study of the history of history, I found I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians to be exceptionally insightful. The messages presented throughout examine the reasons people cling to perceptions of their nation’s history as well as why there are those who wish to reveal the truth behind their world.
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