Sonic Fictions

Three Abrupt Comedies (1927–1948)

Photo credits: The National Film Archive

Lache in the Harem (silent film, d. Marcel Blossoms, Vasile D. Ionescu, p. Național Film, 1927, runtime: 19 minutes)
music: Makunouchi Bento

Gogulică CFR (silent film, d. Cornel Dumitrescu, p. Teo-Film, 1930, runtime: 9 minutes)
music: Sillyconductor

Haplea’s Antics (soundless film*, d. Traian Popescu-Tracipone, p. Bronky Lucovici, 1948, runtime: 15 minutes)
sound: Micleușanu M.

*film made after the appearance of sound in the Romanian cinematography, but whose soundtrack has been lost over time

Silent comedy did not live its best life in Romanian film. And yet, seeing how just one of the three shorts brought together in this cluster has reached us in a final form, we can stay optimistic – Lache in the Harem is a truly ambitious feature. Not owing to its narration or humor, but formally, to its resonance with the creative commotion that stormed cinema in the ‘20s, hence its refined framings, superimpositions, subjective angles, all the while the harem’s exotic phantasm being a cinematic keepsake of the 1910s. Gogulică, on the other hand, is a rough sample of his time; jobless in the midst of an economic crisis, all of his ordeals stem from the need to be employed. More hectic and ferocious than his cluster-mates, but, to be fair, also younger, Cornel Dumitrescu’s man on the dole comes with restless gags whose fierceness is stood front and center by the film’s raw form. Years later, in ’48, Traian Popescu-Tracipone’s Haplea would have shaken off the theatrical affectation of the silent film, but not entirely. What appears to be the last fiction feature prior to the nationalization of the industry shows a modest man, servant of squire D. Dobitocescu, at loggerheads with him due to their shared interest in a woman; at least, such is inferred from the documents of that time and the filmmaker’s memoir, which also mentions a gag en travesti. I say the grand appearance in Tracipone’s film is, without a doubt, the striking platinum-blonde dame played by Mary Theodorescu; a Marilyn before her time, the dead ringer of a concept yet officially unnamed, her diaphanous appearance now seems the promise of a bombastic destiny for Romanian cinema; one that would never be. (Călin Boto)

Felix Petrescu and Valentin Toma, alias Makunouchi Bento, at the end of 2000 laid the foundations of this cinematic, experimental, electroacoustic musical project. The two managed to build a reasonably comprehensive discography: 5 albums and 4 personal compilations, 26 EPs and 12 singles, several live recordings, songs included on more than 40 compilations, remixes and collaborations with numerous artists.
Cătălin Matei (b. 1980) made the audio programming for performances and audio installations at numerous festivals in the country and abroad, and under the name of Sillyconductor he is involved in almost all activities that involve music production and recording from theater music, film or video games to sound installations or sound objects, attempting to combine science, classical references and absurd humour in his creations.
Micleușanu Mitoș (b. 1972) is an interdisciplinary artist with various interests. He made his first attempts in the field of electronic music in 1998-2000, later focusing more on the experiment. Currently, his electronic projects are signed as “Micleusanu M.” or “CPU99” being at the confluence of modular and granular sound synthesis, at the interference between ambient, post-industrial and electroacoustic.

As a consequence of the contractual requirements imposed by the Romanian Film Center we separated the video and the audio sources. The developed automatic system synchronizing the applications used may cause small delays due to your internet provider and devices (desktop, phone, etc.).
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