The Oak is an absorbing, complicated black comedy about Romania at the end of the Ceauşescu regime. A young schoolteacher named Nela embarks on a spiritual journey after the death of her father, a former government official, whose ashes she takes to toting in a coffee jar. On her wanderings through grotesque and often violent surroundings, she meets Mitică. The couple, like Tristan and Isolde at the gates of the Orient, cannot live out their love according to the rules. A series of events – floods, pollution, Mitică’s arrest, military maneuvers and massacres – split up our heroes, and reveal a context in which nothing works properly and everything seems to be falling apart.
“This film… is Mr. Pintilie’s reaction to the 1989 collapse of the Communist regime in his country and his expectations for the future. It begins as a nightmare and ends with a vague expectation of the break of day… Mr. Pintilie seems to suggest that there is still hope for Romania, though it’s not just around the corner.” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times
The new 4K restoration has been made with the support of Fundația9 Romania through the Lucian Pintilie Cinema Fund.
Cinematography: Doru Mitran
Cast: Maia Morgenstern, Răzvan Vasilescu, Victor Rebengiuc, Dorel Vişan
Production: MK2 Productions, Parnasse Production, Les Films du Scarabée, Studio of Cinematographic Creation of the Romanian Ministry of Culture
Festivals & Awards: Cannes 1992 (Official Selection, out of competition); 1992 New York FF;
Best Actress (Maia Morgenstern) – 1992 Geneva & 1993 European Academy Awards/Felix Award for Best Actress of the Year
In Romanian with English Subtitles