Greetings again from the darkness. Remember when the 1980’s TV show “Dallas” saved Romania? Though it’s the tongue-in-cheek theme of this innovative docudrama, it’s understandable if you haven’t previously heard about this connection in the Romania-United States pop culture clash. Married filmmakers Livia Ungar and Sherng-Lee Huang deliver a visually unique standout even amongst the unusual offerings of a film festival.
In the 1980’s communist Romania, “Dallas” was the only Western show permitted to be broadcast to the general public … the idea being it would act as a warning of the evils of capitalism. Of course the result was much different, and Romanians embraced the film as a fantasy lifestyle. The show perpetuated the Poverty vs Wealth, and Communism vs Freedom differences.
Ms. Ungar also stars as a version of her youthful self, and her training in art plays a huge role in how she presents this story … it’s artsy, imaginative and even impressionistic at times. She utilizes “Endless Column” from Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi as the imagery for the link to United States culture and dreams. Time is also a bit relative here, as we bounce forwards and backwards periodically.
One of the more fascinating segments is the Southfork Ranch-style Hotel developed by a Sunflower Oil business tycoon (who also spent time in prison). It’s known as the Southfork of Slobazia, and one of the most oddball songs/videos you’ll ever hear/see accompanies us on the tour.
Patrick Duffy, who of course played Bobby Ewing in the “Dallas” series, plays an unusual American tourist named Mr. Here. Mr. Duffy contributes quite a bit of narration and his appearance adds to the surreal feel of the film. There are also re-stagings or reimaginings of some actual “Dallas” plotlines, including the infamous “Pam’s dream”. For those who like their movies on the extreme end of the artsy scale, they will be quite happy. Others may just be satisfied with the excessive number of shots featuring Ms. Ungar’s rear end in tight denim jeans.