The Blissful Accidental Death (Memories Hurt)

 

After the painfully cocky, and very French, rejection from Cannes we realized we'll always be bottom-feeding worms. That's fine, because most art films don't make any money anyway. Shit, neither do we... Well forget that aborted attempt at an intro, because this is the beginning of more film coverage, especially shorts, which are grossly ignored because they rarely make money. If they do, they're attached to bigger productions and are usually of the Disney plague variety we can't help watching because...tears. Well, what if the tears never fully wipe away and leave red scars upon the cheek? Try The Blissful Accidental Death.

 
 

The Blissful Accidental Death (Splendida Moarte Accident in Romanian) is an animated short by Sergiu Negulici, whose work prior to this was primarily in the realm of visual effects including oddball fantasy romps. This particular film is nothing like that YA nostalgic tripe but instead a densely packed, cultural journey through the memories of Romanian (ethnic Jewish) painter Medi Dinu (1908-2016), who was friends with a large number of important Romanian cultural figures throughout her life including the Dadaists who entered Romania and couldn't stop talking about themselves because it's art (see image above). Filmed in 2D and 3D, the 17-minute journey connected through the image of a train has a quality of "construction" to it that builds upon paper as an object of culture.

 

 

It opens with a young man buying a piece of art in an antique store and discovering its hidden love letter. Based on an actual discovery and subsequent meeting with Dinu by the director himself, the opening character tracks her down in hopes of understanding the letter's meaning. As he hands it to her The Blissful Accidental Death shifts from the charcoal-on-paper approach that frames the story to 3D animation where the viewer is brought through various memories of Dinu's life. WWI, WWII, atrocities committed against the Jewish people, and other details, the stark realism of Romanian history is presented through acts of construction and other-worldly experimentation where characters turn into demonic entities, devouring weresnakes, are consumed by decrepit sanils, or fall into piles of letters as shaven-headed Jews shriek in terror (see below) during one of the darkest points in human history, which struck Romania as well other countries in Eastern Europe.

 
 

I'm quite familiar with Romanian animation, but it has only rarely received acclaim after the fall of communism. Eastern European film, as a whole, is in a flux where Hollywood still dominates the market and international recognition comes in short bursts. The Blissful Accidental Death is a current exception that shows future promise for Romanian and Eastern European animation but it is certainly not for the provincial mind. Negulici's combination of old and new style creates a fluid thematic approach that draws you into the film's dense symbols, often confusing as much as it terrifies. Most of it will be difficult for a non-Romanian to grasp without research, which is its only fault, but even if the meaning is not entirely clear the beauty of the presentation is worth more than a single watch, and perhaps it will give you the incentive to learn about the country's history. For human angst, I've seen few films that work this well. It makes us all wonder how much more peaceful it would be if we died by accident. As the character representing Dinu at the end says "It doesn't matter anymore."

 

The Blissful Accidental Death Official Facebook

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

The Blissful Accidental Death (2017)
Sergiu Negulici (director), Abis Studio, Reniform Production (production)
4.4 / 5