Set during World War II, somewhere in Eastern Europe. A German soldier is found dead near the village. The local authorities must find the culprit, or they will be all shot by the Nazis the morning after. There's no way to find the guilty one, but there's Ipu, the madman of the village, whom they promise a hero's funeral if he will claims responsibility and agrees to die in their place. He must decide, and time is running out.
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Once upon a time, during WWII, somewhere in Nazi occupied Romania, a night of comic misadventures ensues when a boy discovers a dead soldier. The German authorities demand that the perpetrator must be identified or the town leaders will be shot the following morning. In their desperation, led by Father Johanis (Harvey Keitel), their salvation seems to lie in convincing the town "fool", Ipu (Gérard Depardieu), to agree to confess, and save them all with his sacrifice. The comedy and darker sides of human nature race toward the deadline where one cannot help but wonder who, in fact, is the actual "fool"?
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Full of historical errors (they use Cluj's post-communist flag during WW2?) and lacking any of the psychological and dramatic depth of the 1972 version, this film, albeit well shot and edited, is an unnecessary re-adaptation of Popovici's text. Without firm direction and tight script, the only acting to be somewhat appraised, belongs to Mr. Harvey Keitel. Mr. Depardieu only manages to aimlessly wander through his lines, and the changed ending (as by the producers' wishes) just steals what little enjoyment was left in this venture. An interesting take though is to replace the original Romanian pope to a Transylvanian Saxon minister, thus enabling even more historical debate over the subject.
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