During the most brutal days of World War I, Apostol Bologa (the extraordinary Victor Rebengiuc), a Romanian serving as a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army, is part of the Court Martial that punishes deserters and other problem soldiers. Gradually the horror of his routine builds up inside of him, forcing a choice between his military duty and greater feelings of humanity. Ciulei’s most ambitious and masterfully realized film, particularly striking in its impressionistic landscape photography, the Forest of the Hanged earned Ciulei the Best Director prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival and became the first Romanian feature to attract widespread international attention. It remains one of the cinema’s greatest studies of the dehumanizing effects of war. Screening introduced by critic Magda Mihailescu.
“The most beautiful scene I have ever directed in my career is the last scene of Forest of the Hanged. We see a young peasant woman preparing the last meal for the man she loves who is sentenced to death by hanging—a man, a woman, bread, salt and wine, love, life and death.”