In the Dark

The Long Take

Beyond the Hills
Produced by Canal+ 
Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu 
Distributed by Sundance Selects 


Beyond the Hills is Cristian Mungiu’s fictionalized account of the widely reported story of an exorcism performed at a Rumanian Orthodox monastery near Tanacu in 2005.  A disturbed young woman who had been living there had become violently hysterical.  Taken to a nearby hospital, she was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and advised to return to the monastery.  The doctor attending her reasoned that the simple, quiet life there would soothe her mental disturbance.  It didn’t.  When her hysteria returned, the monastery’s nuns became convinced she was possessed and implored the abbot to perform an exorcism.  Beyond the rite itself, this involved tying the woman down on a board and leaving her almost entirely unattended in an unheated room for three days without food and water.  The result was death by hunger and dehydration.  The secular authorities blamed the priest and the mother superior, and had them prosecuted.

It was a sad case made sadder by how it was reported by some in the media who were intent on depicting it as a reckless return to medievalism after the collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist rule.  In an otherwise fairly balanced article...

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