Beyond the Hills

2012

Drama

200
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 11,459

Synopsis


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January 12, 2021

Cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.37 GB
1280*720
Romanian 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
152 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.81 GB
1920×1080
Romanian 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
152 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Marius_Stan 8 / 10 / 10

Love in times of prayer

A grim and intense story about love, faith, the presence of God and the absence of God, slowly penetrates the viewer's mind, so slowly that it takes Director and Screenplayer Cristian Mungiu more than two hours to make a convincing case for redemption. No doubt that he has a skilled team, to include Oleg Mutu (cinematography). This is not a horror movie; what is horrifying is the knowledge that it is based on a real story of a 2005 Christian Orthodox exorcism gone wrong, somewhere beyond the hills of Moldavia (a region in Eastern Romania). The scariest aspect is that it can happen to you, no need for a monastery or any kind of mental illness. All it takes is to express disdain against a highly controlled environment, the kind of environment that requires continuously patching the stove such that no smoke comes out to spoil the harmony of a strict yet loving family. The movie builds upon the viewer's expectancy that what can go wrong it will, and, with a remarkable lack of explicit violence, creates a gripping parallel reality where all imaginary roads are paved with good, harmful intentions. Both the priest and the doctor want to help, each in his system of reference. The police are interested in helping too, to the best of their ability. In the end, it's hard to blame or hate anybody for the strange turn of events. Even the priest (Valeriu Andriuta) draws some sympathy for his apparent lack of options. But hey, there is a bright side to this bleak work of art, not a masterpiece but still an outstanding work of art: the thin line between desire and rejection drawn by Cosmina Stratan (Voichita) and Cristina Flutur (Alina). Patched with moments of fragile silence and delicate whispers, their relationship evolves into one of the most tender and frightening love stories. Now, who harbors the Devil is still up for debate

Reviewed by alex807-1 9 / 10 / 10

Good movie on a complicated story

I think it may make some sense to provide a bit of cultural background to shed some light on this movie, and help people decode it better. As some other viewers already pointed out, the plot is based on a true story. Romanian media ran the story some years ago dubbing it a case of exorcism gone bad. A priest supposedly mistook a form of mental illness for satanic possession, the exorcism performed on the respective nun leading to her death by starvation. In reality, the nun was no such thing, but just a girl visiting the convent. The priest and the other nuns, who after a previous seizure had already referred the woman to a mental hospital, were talked into taking her back after she was discharged. Back at the monastery, the girl had another fit of sorts and they had to restrain her. A few days later she was dead from exhaustion. The court trying the case found the priest and some of the nuns guilty of wrongful death. The entire case was brilliantly documented by former BBC-journalist Tatiana Niculescu-Bran in two books, which the screenplay was based upon. The affair did raise some questions regarding Romanian society, Cristian Mungiu was able to only shed a brief light on those aspects, but I think they are crucially for understanding the context. The priest was somewhat of a maverick in the church. Mungiu implies that by telling that the Bishop would not bless the church, although it is more popular than the churches in the valley, and by having one of the nuns explaining that he has fallen in disgrace after renouncing his pay (Romanian priests are payed by the state). The Romanian region of Moldova is the poorest in the entire European Union, but - and probably for this exact reason - also a religious hotspot. In stark contrast to the poverty stricken people, the Romanian Orthodox Church is one of the richest entities, operating in such lucrative industries like timber, tourism, and manufacturing of religious paraphernalia. Clerics are supposed to be part of the game, when they refuse to do so, they basically get sacked - or, as in the present case, go rogue, retreating to makeshift compounds and recruiting "true" believers. On the other hand, people disappointed by the church's obsession with money tend to be attracted to such rebel priests, seen as more mystical and in line with the biblical way. The fact that the priest was an outcast prevented the church to openly take his side, although they pretty much come to the help of (morally) corrupt men of the cloth. People of a more secular background frown on both kinds of clerics, viewing them as blood sucking opportunists who prey on helpless, naive people. That explains the outburst of the doctor who receives the lifeless body of Alina towards the end of the movie, but also the implication of the foster father of sorts, that the nuns tried to rip her off by charging her more for medication expenses. The relationship between the two girls is psychologically complex. Mungiu leaves some clues for a past love affair, but refrains from being explicit on the matter. The fact that the girls obviously love each other may have a different explanation. Like many other children, they grew up in an orphanage, being abandoned by the poor parents in the last years of the communist regime. Mungiu suggests multiple abuse in the facility and foster families, which we know to massively have occurred in those care homes. Alina came to be the protector of Voichita, who is a perfect victim. She would defend her fiercely and sees her new found "family" as a threat. Being possessive, it is possible that Alinas reaction is based on a jealousy, but she is also ambitious and may experience a sense of failure and guilt - she went abroad, leaving the gullible Voichita at the mercy of the manipulative priest, and now that she wants to take her back, Voichita seems to be firmly controlled by him. So Alina is in a threefold predicament: the backward priest sees her as a threat because she has been infected with Western sins and does not fit in his way of life, threatening his influence on the compound; she fails in convincing Voichita to join her; she has no place to go, having lost her job on a cruise ship in Germany. That could be enough to break a person and send her into despair. Having said that, because at least Romanian viewers generally know the story and the backdrop, they are left only to pass judgement on the way Mungiu told it. In my view he does a good job.

Reviewed by howard.schumann 9 / 10 / 10

A powerful tale of religious and emotional obsession

Albert Camus said, "The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." These words become prophetic in Romanian director Cristian Mungui's Beyond the Hills, a powerful tale of religious and emotional obsession that leads to tragic consequences. Like his award winning abortion drama, 4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 Days, the Palme d'Or winner at Cannes in 2007, it is deliberately paced and can be demanding to the viewer unaccustomed to long takes without cuts or camera movements. Set in a remote Orthodox Christian convent in rural Moldova known as New Hill Monastery, Beyond the Hills is a social drama based on two books labeled "nonfiction novels" by Romanian journalist Tatiana Niculescu Bran concerning an exorcism in 2005 that became sensationalized in the press. Filmed in -15 degree weather during the heaviest snow season in years, Oleg Mutu's cinematography makes us feel the bleakness and the cold, damp air inside a convent that has no electricity or running water. As the film begins, Alina (Cristina Flutur) has returned from Berlin to the town in which she grew up. She is met at the train station by Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), her best friend and partner since their years together in an orphanage. Voichita believes she has found her direction, however, in the convent where she is a novice and has become emotionally attached to the priest she calls "Papa" (Valeriu Andriuta) and the mother superior (Dana Tapalaga). Alina, a sometimes believer, has come to rescue her friend from what she feels is the church's domination and is unprepared for Voichita's unwillingness to leave with her and work together on a German cruise ship. She tells Alina that she has found a sense of family and has been changed by her experience. Though she lovingly invites her friend to give herself to the Lord, Alina feels betrayed. A tug of war develops between the church's fear of the "unbeliever", and their wish to provide sanctuary, knowing that Alina has nowhere else to go. Under threat by those around her, Voichita finds herself torn between her one and only friend and her devotion to God. Desperate for affection, Alina flirts with suicide and her growing paranoia makes her suspicious of everyone in Voichita's life. Soon, her repeated fits of hysteria land her in the local hospital, but the anti-psychotic drugs provide only a temporary solution. When the doctors tell the priest that there is nothing further they can do to help, Alina is returned to the convent but the situation does not improve. The distraught girl does leave on her own to go back to her last foster home, but gives up all her possessions and returns to the monastery, unable to stay away from Voichita. Ultimately, the priest is convinced that she is not just a sinner, but one possessed by the devil and must undergo an exorcism. Without her consent, Alina is tied to a cross with ropes and chains and her mouth gagged to prevent her screaming as the service is performed. Beyond the Hills is an intense and haunting film, and the performances of Flutur and Stratan, who shared the Best Actress award at Cannes, add depth and complexity to the film's moral universe. Under Mungui's direction, the film avoids pointing the finger. There are no good guys and bad guys and everyone involved thinks they are acting in Alina's best interests, but they are sadly myopic. Regardless of their good intentions, each character is so caught up in the narrow scope of their vision that they cannot see beyond their immediate self-interest. What becomes lost is the ability to look beyond rituals and forms to find the substance - love, charity, and compassion. According to Mungui, the film "speaks about guilt but is more concerned with love and choices, with the things people do in the name of their beliefs, the difficulty of telling good from bad, understanding religion literally, indifference as an even greater sin than intolerance and freedom of will." When these factors are present, tragedy cannot be far away.

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