Watch Beyond the Hills
- 2 hr 35 min
Beyond the Hills is a Romanian film directed by Cristian Mungiu and released in 2012. It tells the story of two young women, Alina and Voichita, who grew up together in an orphanage. Alina has returned to Romania from Germany and hopes to persuade her friend to go abroad with her. However, Voichita has found refuge in a remote Orthodox monastery where she has become a novice nun. Alina is outraged by her friend's decision to stay at the monastery and tries to convince her to flee with her. But Voichita's faith and commitment to the monastery leave her torn between her loyalty to her friend and her devotion to her religious community.
The film is based on a true story that happened in Romania in 2005. The film explores themes of faith, belief, and friendship, as well as the conflict between the individual and the collective. Beyond the Hills is a masterful exploration of the human condition, with superb performances from its lead actresses, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, who won the Best Actress award together at the Cannes Film Festival for their roles in the film.
One of the main themes of the film is the power of the institution over the individual. The Orthodox monastery, with its strict rules and hierarchical structure, represents a world where independent thought and individuality are not tolerated. Voichita's choice to become a nun is seen by the other characters as a way to escape from the dangers of the outside world and to find peace and salvation in the monastery. However, Alina sees the monastery as a trap that will ultimately destroy her friend's freedom and humanity. She accuses the nuns of brainwashing and manipulating Voichita, and she tries to save her friend from what she perceives as a cult.
The conflict between Alina and the nuns reflects a broader social and cultural clash in Romanian society. The film is set in a rural and impoverished region of Romania, where the Orthodox Church still holds great power and influence over people's lives. The nuns, played by non-professional actors, are portrayed as simple and uneducated women who have found refuge in religion but who are also limited by their belief system. The film shows how the church's dogmatic teachings can lead to intolerance and narrow-mindedness, and how it can discourage critical thinking and creativity.
The film's style is sober and unadorned, with long, static shots that capture the daily ritualistic life of the nuns. The cinematography is beautiful and subtle, with a muted color palette that reflects the somber tone of the film. The slow rhythm of the film and its minimalistic approach create a meditative and hypnotic effect, which mirrors the contemplative and repetitive nature of the monastic life. The film's score, composed by Varda Kakon and Johnny Klimek, is haunting and ethereal, with choral chants that add to the film's spiritual atmosphere.
Beyond the Hills is a challenging and thought-provoking film that raises important questions about the role of religion in modern society and the tension between the desire for personal freedom and the need for belonging. The film offers no easy answers or solutions but encourages the viewer to reflect on the complexity of faith and the multiplicity of human experiences. The film's final scene is ambiguous and open-ended, leaving the viewer to decide on the fate of the characters and the meaning of their actions. Beyond the Hills is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking and a testament to the power of cinema to explore the deepest aspects of the human condition.
Beyond the Hills is a 2013 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 35 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 79.