×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Crulic — The Path to Beyond

Beautiful artwork and a powerful story are the key elements of animated docu "Crulic -- The Path to Beyond."

With:
Narrators: Vlad Ivanov, Jamie Sives. (Romanian, English, Polish dialogue)

Beautiful artwork and a powerful story are the key elements of animated docu “Crulic — The Path to Beyond,” recounting the Kafkaesque history of a Romanian man arrested in Poland and abandoned by everyone until his death following a hunger strike in 2008. Sophomore helmer Anca Damian doesn’t prettify the subject, but rather uses the animation as an illustration of miscarried justice, told with a certain detached irony until the live action news reportage at the closing credits. The rising popularity of socially conscious animated pics could help “Crulic” move from fest screens to a small arthouse release.

Thesp Vlad Ivanov voices the first-person narration from the grave, recounting Claudiu Crulic’s life in detail and providing a psychological profile that probably offers greater glimpses into character than a traditional docu format could. Pic opens with Crulic talking about his postmortem repatriation, and how his mother and half-sister couldn’t recognize his body, 66 pounds lighter than when they last saw him, and looking closer to 70 than his actual age of 33.

By early adulthood, Crulic was making frequent trips to Poland, where he’d buy low-cost goods and sell them back home in northern Romania. Then in 2007, he was arrested for stealing a judge’s wallet; although it was later proven he was in Italy at the time of the theft, authorities dismissed his protestations of innocence, believing previous arrests for theft established his present guilt. Letters to the Romanian consul in Poland were either ignored or replied to in a condescending manner, and even a note to his half-sister asking for help was dismissed.

Crulic went on a hunger strike, yet authorities disregarded his actions, with prison doctors claiming he was in good health despite his gradual deterioration. Only when nearing total biological system failure did doctors apply for a permit to force feed him, but the needle perforated his lung, leading to further meltdown. After Crulic’s death, authorities tried to wash their hands of responsibility, though eventually a few heads rolled.

Damian (“Crossing Dates”) tells the story in a relatively straightforward manner, letting the information sink in rather than trying to manipulate sentiment toward righteous indignation. For the most part the idea works, though she has the animators illustrate every line, and the pileup (for example, a list of things in the prison facility) doesn’t allow time to process it all. A beautifully drawn sequence at the end, of Crulic’s shroud floating away, works against the buildup of outrage and stymies a sense of catharsis until the credits sequence and the insertion of real news reports, which bring home the shockingly cold-blooded nature of the responsible parties.

Animation is especially appealing, featuring attractive watercolors and lovely washes forming the background to an imaginative use of drawings, cutouts and photos. Even if overloaded at times, the individual frames are beautifully rendered and clear, accompanied by Piotr Dziubek’s seamless and understated compositions.

Ivanov’s voice maintains a level of sympathetic detachment not without its share of ironic humor, offering exactly the right amount of personality without playing anything up. English narration by Jamie Sives details Crulic’s medical breakdown as well as the chilling bureaucratic nightmare responsible for his death. A credit at the end explains that certain details have been adapted or invented, a statement that needs clarification, at least in the press book.

Popular on Variety

Crulic -- The Path to Beyond

Romania-Poland

Production: An Aparte Film, Fundacja Im. Ferdynanda Magellana, Romanian Ministry of Culture and Romanian Heritage, Editura Videow, Krakow Festival Office production. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced by Anca Damian. Co-producer, Arkadiusz Wojnarowski. Directed, written by Anca Damian. (Color); editor, Catalin Cristutiu; music, Piotr Dziubek; artwork/animation, Dan Panaitescu, Raluca Popa, Dragos Stefan, Roxana Bentu, Tuliu Oltean; sound (Dolby Digital), Piotr Witkowski, Sebastian Wlodarczyk. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 7, 2011. Running time: 71 MIN.

Cast: Narrators: Vlad Ivanov, Jamie Sives. (Romanian, English, Polish dialogue)

More Scene

  • 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    Why the Television Academy Plans to Donate Furnishings From the 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    The Emmys’ official after party is set to impress — and to leave a permanent impression. At the annual press preview of the 71st Emmys Governors Ball, the Television Academy announced a partnership with Living Spaces, Habitat for Humanity and the Hollywood Community Housing Project that will provide more than 80 custom sofas, chairs and [...]

  • Gaby Hoffmann, Albert Cheng, Alexandra Billings,

    'Transparent' Team Reflects on Series Finale Without Jeffrey Tambor

    Friday night’s premiere of the series finale of “Transparent” at L.A. Live’s Regal theater felt like a family reunion for the Pfefferman clan. Matriarch Judith Light embraced each one of her TV children (Gaby Hoffman, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass) and guest stars from previous seasons (Cherry Jones, Melora Hardin, Bradley Whitford) who also turned [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Pom Klementieff poses at the launch

    Marvel Cinematic Universe Star Pom Klementieff Talks Disney-Fox Merger, X-Men Dreams

    Pom Klementieff may have entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe playing Mantis in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” followed by appearances in the last two “Avengers” movies, but that wasn’t her original superhero plan. “My dream was to be in X-Men,” she told Variety on Thursday at the Chanel dinner for its new fragrance Gabrielle [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

    Gwyneth Paltrow to Be Honored at amfAR Gala Los Angeles

    Gwyneth Paltrow and art dealer Larry Gagosian are set to be honored at the 2019 amfAR Gala Los Angeles. The American Foundation for AIDS Research announced that the two honorees will receive the Award of Courage for their commitment in the fight against HIV and AIDS as well as for their other humanitarian efforts. Christina [...]

  • David Mandel Sam Richardson

    'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Veep,' 'When They See Us' Writers Honored at Emmy Nominees Reception

    Ava DuVernay (“When They See Us”), David Mandel (“Veep”) and Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) were among those honored at the Television Academy’s Emmy nominees writers reception on Tuesday night in North Hollywood. There, ceremony hosts, “Escape at Dannemora” star Eric Lange and “Veep’s” Sam Richardson, kept the show moving by tossing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content