The Return of the Banished | Chicago Reader

The Return of the Banished

Made during the era of Communist censorship, this 1979 Romanian epic about a paranoid 16th-century monarch is an allegory for the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. After returning from exile in Constantinople, Prince Alexandru Lapusneanu (George Motoi) reestablishes his power by eliminating foes both real and imagined. He infuriates rival nobles by redistributing land and elevating peasants to the aristocracy, and plays aggressive European powers off against his former Ottoman protectors. Director Malvina Ursianu uses a labyrinthine fortress setting to underscore how isolation feeds megalomania, but too many flashbacks result in a narrative as twisted as the prince's political machinations. In Romanian with subtitles. 148 min.

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