Train of Life: An Interview with Director Radu Mihaileanu


Train of Life

Interview with director and writer Radu Mihaileanu

THC: Congratulations on the film. Were you surprised at the popular international reception, or that it won so many awards?


Mihaileanu: I am always surprised that in different cultures they understand the movie in the same way. The Venice demonstration [in which the audience protested to allow the film to be officially included in the competition--the first demonstration of its kind at a film festival] was a big surprise. Awards are very important, I know now, for marketing, but I am not a guy who wants to be "king of the world." We are dealing with ideas and my ideas are not better, only different. I see the need for awards to promote the film, so I am happy only for the attention, not just the validation of the film.

THC: Other movies have also taken a humorous angle with the Holocaust, why use humor to portray such a tragic event? What about the inevitable comparisons to Life is Beautiful?

Mihaileanu: The script was written before Life is Beautiful. I started it in 1993. I forbid myself to write without a producer, so I stopped work on it until 1995, when I met the producer. Then it took me three months to write the script. The conditions of the concentration camp don't interest me--what interests me is those people, in the shtetl, the lost people. I focused on their ways of living and fighting and loving. I pay more attention to the people, not the horrors of the camp; it is more collective.

Humor for me is a language. Humor is much more incisive and precise. It can show the barbarity of humanity better than the tragedy itself. It is better to answer negative events without violence, to answer death with life.

THC: The movie has been called a modern fairy tale. Who was this fairy tale written for?

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