I went to see Dan Chisu’s first movie, “Website story“, about which you can also find Romanian reviews here and here.
These are the official trailers.
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The second trailer
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Third trailer Realitatea
I will synthesize all you can find about the movie (not much found over the internet, actually, just repeated text): Dan Chisu is a Romanian TV show host who decided to shoot his first film as a producer, screenwriter, and director as an experiment. The experiment was that there was no lines script beforehand, only the story, the actors (most of them, amateurs) played their parts on the spot (2 weeks shooting), and there were several other doubles taken, out of which (probably when the DVD will be released) the spectators will be able to construct their own version of the film, like a puzzle. The film also looks fresh because it is filmed in a video clip style and revolves around some videos posted on Youtube by two characters.
This movie isn’t what it’s stated to be
First things first. The movie is intended, as the director declared, not as a bedtime story for kids but as a waking-up story for parents. That doesn’t work. One thing because the movie is mainly addressed to the 16-24 demographic range. Another thing because it is only intended, the way it’s filmed, as a child’s play, as a commercial movie, which it is. Therefore, it’s less likely the parents will resonate with the film’s message. Third, it is not the film of a generation, as the groundbreaking Romanian research “Leo Youth II” (2008) [ro, slideshare] shows. The best, Mira and Laura, can be considered representatives for the suburban rebel category. This is by no means a movie that defines a generation, and I think Dan Chisu should take a good look in the dictionary or at some studies before opening his mouth on making catalog judgment on Romanian society (this is not the only thing on which he opens up his mouth before thinking of the choice of words).
For another thing, the movie title leads the viewer into error, and not only that, but it also landmarks a misinterpretation as a milestone. How? If you haven’t seen the movie, you may think it is about a website. It is not. You may think, at least, that it’s about a blog. IT IS NOT! It’s not even about web 2.0, even though the creators have made a Romanian blog and a twitter account with no postings and just 20 followers.
“Website story” is a film about youtube postings. The creators also made some sort of campaign through the blog, but the funny thing is that most of the videos are not embedded but linked to. So what was the problem? They didn’t have enough hosting space? They could have used a cloud-computing [en, wiki] solution as a part of web 3.0 [en, wiki] technology (instead, they used the web 1.0 term of “website” for a clear-cut web 2.0 era behavior (that is, Youtube postings).
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The moralizing end titles notify us that any user can post any kind of video on Youtube, like that would have to have some sort of “oh my God!” effect, probably over the parents, to check up on what their kids are using Youtube for… To add spice to that, as someone wrote in a comment, “they presented in the making of the camera they used [en, wiki] as it seemed a prototype landed into the hands of the film crew over the night, not knowing how to use it”.
The worst and the most offending claim Dan Chisu made is in this interview [ro, html]. I would invite Dan Chisu to some of the Bucharest great monasteries (Like Antim [ro,wiki] or Radu Voda), right in the middle of the city, during fasting periods, significantly closer to Easter or to Christmas, to see how many people come to confession and how busy the priests’ schedule is during these times. Just because he is not going to church anymore doesn’t mean the Church doesn’t exist anymore; therefore, it must be replaced with Youtube. There is one thing that Dan Chisu is an atheist; it’s totally another one when he doesn’t use his reason to research. The affirmation is preposterous; as a PR advice for The Romanian Orthodox Church, he should get anathematized.
“Website story” is supposed to hint at the classical music hall “West Side Story”. But it’s not. If you want anything closer to it, try this [en, video]. The nearest hint to a “Romeo + Juliet” story in the film is that Laura gets slapped by her father backstage for rehearsing “Romeo + Juliet”. Unfortunately, the music provided pro-bono by Marius Moga [en, wiki] and Dalia Pusca [ro, blog] is rather adding a shallow component to what else is a dramatic story, therefore minimizing the impact of the message.
Now considering I’m done with terms correcting and the how-not-to-do-a-making-of, let us take a closer look at the message of this film. On this level, the movie does offer food for thought. Even though it is commercial and schematic, the movie builds a case for itself. Without very well knowing what he’s doing, Dan Chisu makes a bet which he wins. In the end, he does deliver, besides a flashy story about disturbed children, a film about children psychologically abandoned by their parents. So I think even if you don’t like the actors’ play or the flashy style or the other things I have mentioned until now, I consider it is a film worth to be seen, and talking about, even if only the end question of the movie, launched instead as a challenge to think about: did the main character do a good deed or a wrong deed?
This is where the movie ends. I would rather say this is where the movie should have begun. But for what it is intended, the film surprises. Even though Dan Chisu seems not to notice it, this story is not an internet-driven film. It isn’t even a film about technology, as it may make you think. Instead, it is an excellent psychological look at the relationships between wealthy parents and neglected kids, about justice and the desire for connection and communication. There is a really dramatic side to this situation, which the movie actually takes in very well: short, incentive, cut-to-the-chase. We have a real moral dilemma. In Romania, the only justice Laura’s character can hope for is, as the boyfriend’s character suggests, that from Heaven, not any legal justice. So, when there is no justice to be served by an actual institution, how wrongfully can it be to make justice for oneself?
This movie, seen by Romanians in 2050, might offer a powerful insight into some sociological phenomena. It could have been a great movie if Dan Chisu had invested in this side. The mere disadvantage, in my opinion, is that he didn’t dare to do that.
The artistic value
This is, in my opinion, a blatant case of a creator having a good product but doesn’t know which are the product’s actual values. Here lies the lack of communication between screenwriting and marketing, and not only, but more. The Romanian movies, said Marcel Iures in an interview with ProCinema in 1997, are used to showing meaningless events that waste the viewer’s time and don’t say anything. In my opinion, the only Romanian film director who uses that to his advantage as a style is Corneliu Porumboiu. Judged to the average Romanian production, “Website story” is superior, especially considering once-upon-a-time classics like Mircea Daneliuc and Sergiu Nicolaescu directing like they have their brains removed after the 1989 Revolution. But judging it next to what cinema is supposed to be, “Website story” is a poor film.
The good actors in the film don’t have a lot to say because of the poor script and the consistent part of Laura, the main character, is too heavy to be played by Crina Semciuc, the UNITER awarded actress [ro, html], known for the film viewers only from the “One step forward” [en, html] series (some sort of Romanian Milla Jovovich). The actress plays the character too hysterically and without nuances.
Considering how the story was developed, the film turned out to be more acceptable than not, for the reasons I mentioned.
For who is this a must-see?
This is the film to see considering you don’t have any other one better, in the high schools, especially in the suburban Bucharest high schools. If I were a director at any of these schools, I would make a mandatory vision and discussion on questions like the following:
– did Laura do a good deed or an evil deed?
– how much was the parents’ fault in the characters’ behavior?
– what could the characters have done instead of going to a club in the first place?
– how does video posting replace actual communication?
– how do adolescents feel accepted and recognized by their parents?
– what makes you feel accepted?
– how often do you confess your sins to your priest?
– what makes a good listener for a confession?
There is a high tendency for rebel neighborhood adolescents who feel victimized by their parents to take refuge in this film and place responsibility back at the exterior (parents, school teachers, society). They might consider this to be a model. But, in the end, the movie tells the story of a crime that goes not only unpunished but also promoted. So, what is the kind of message the adolescents will really get? Will Dan Chisu’s film add a brick to the moral construction or de-construction of young people’s consciences?
It is also a must-see for all people in communication: marketing, PR, advertising, social media, web 2.0, and psychology. If you work in any of these fields or anything related, you are not allowed to miss this movie. It is the only Romanian one of its kind. Until, at least, another one, better, will be made.
Without entering further details, it is normal for kids at this age to seek acceptance and confirmation of their value and identity in their parents’ eyes. The actual conflict begins when for different reasons (the poor parents work too much, sometimes in other countries, and the wealthy parents neglect their children), the parents don’t understand themOnly then does communication via the intern becomes a refuge from c, contact a, and, in some cases, a weapon. A weapon of getting attention by saying: “hey, “I’m there; I have something to say”.
Merely watching the movie as a film lover and a socio-psychological instant of Romanian society, I have a marketing suggestion for all the communication-practicing readers of this post. Watching the numbers, attentively studying the demographics, the young people, the wannabe bright future for Romania, have growing frustrations which will turn into raging frustrations. Therefore, considering the trends, you’d better position your campaigns as crowdsourcing-driven, community-driven, and less agency-driven. In the long run, this will make the difference between the brands that will make a smashing hit and those that will continue to suck money from communication budgets. And I’m not only considering web-based components/businesses.
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2 thoughts on ““Experimental” tryout”
You’ve done it once more! Great writing.
If only more people could hear this.