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In spite of the subject and function of this blog, let me for once leave narrative aside and indulge in my homesickness by talking about the representation of Romanians on celluloid. I have been meaning to write about the appearances of my country-mates on screen for a long time now, ever since we saw Hartley’s Simple Men where one of the main female characters was Romanian. Then came the screening for Buffy, where – I don’t know if people realized this; probably not – the main vampire family that the old man with the accent is talking to Cordelia about is actually a famous Romanian clan (that has nothing to do with vampires, might I add). Also, since I’m not an avid fan of Buffy and have only seen a few episodes here and there, I cannot talk about other mentions of Romanian culture within the show, but given that it revolves so quintessentially around vampires, probably there are quite a few. Then there’s South Park of course, with its unforgettable episode about the Romanian quintuplet contortionists, whose portrayal obviously references the country’s extensive tradition of excellent performance in the field of gymnastics.

In general, I would say that the representation of Romanians on film wavers between two opposite poles: on one side, there are the superficial representations that overtly rely on cultural stereotypes (vampires and gymnastic ability are by far the two most explored topics, followed closely by communism and/or Russian allegiance), while on the other side, there is that equally superficial depiction of Romania and Romanians as an utterly arbitrary nationality or provenance. For some reason, in the eyes of Hollywood filmmakers, Romania seems just random enough to signify that “foreignness” that is at once exotic and un-American. To cite an example: in Marie and Bruce, a 2004 film starring Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick, which is still one of my favorite underrated movies, someone asks Broderick where he got his typewriter from. His answer: “Romania. They’re very cheap over there.” End of discussion.

And end of post.

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