The constable from a backwater province in 1835 Romania may be in declining health, but with help from his grown son, he’s still able to track down a runaway Gypsy slave. Charged with stealing money, it’s really the Provincial Lord’s honor that’s been taken . . . or perhaps given. No matter, the punishment’s sure to exceed the crime in writer/director Radu Jude’s award-winning film. Stunningly realized in WideScreen monochrome, with a medieval feel in spite of the 19th Century setting, it consistently finds the horror of rural life and a kind of grisly humor in those unenlightened times. Illiterate peasants, bad enough in ignorance, can’t compete with the ‘educated’ priests & authorities in offering up prejudice & tall tales as knowledge. And beneath both, Gypsy slaves, like one young boy who briefly attaches himself to the constable before a new buyer can be found. Yet, after traveling over this Bruegelian landscape, our constable comes across as one of the more decent souls. A rather terrifying thought.
DOUBLE-BILL: Less second-feature than encore, a contemporary short subject also by Jude included on the DVD, an unexpectedly sweet father/son story, THE TUBE WITH THE HAT/’06.