When you are young, the world feels like an innocent place, as you age, reality sets in that you must protect yourself and the ones you love, even if that involves great sacrifice. Through the use of animation, Anca Damian’s Romanian-Polish film; Crulic: The Path to Beyond, tells the story of one man’s desperate attempt to be set free. Sadly, for Claudiu Crulic, the main character in this film, he seems to be destined with a black cloud over his head. The story works its way from his family learning about his death, and then travels backwards to explain his early years. Comparing his life to a bus trip, with many bumps along the way, there are a number of tragedies that he faces, as he emerges into adulthood.
Becoming somewhat of a business man, Claudiu takes on the job of buying cheap goods in Poland and selling them to wealthy Romanians back home. Unfortunately, even though he was en route to Italy when the actual crime took place, since he was a suspect in a similar case several months earlier and deemed to be a criminal, he was now arrested and sentenced to Krakow prison for stealing the wallet of a prominent judge in Poland.
Feeling abandoned by the legal system, in which he should be protected by, Claudiu decides on the first day of his imprisonment that he will go on a hunger strike and continue until he is set free or dies. Along with refusing to eat, he begins to write detailed letters to the Romanian consulate and others, explaining that he has been wrongfully accused, but sadly, he is ignored or replied to with utter defeat. As we see his character greatly deteriorate, keeping track of any correspondence he receives, is the only way to keep any ounce of sanity.
Throughout the whole film, the way Anca uses a mixture of different animation techniques to tell this tale is pretty incredible. Everything from the simplicity of seeing a young child’s heart break while watching their beloved pets pass on to the intimate scenes of what it feels to be trapped in your own hell without a way out. There was also a very strong political stance of the level of corruption that we may close our eyes to because of blindly following the status quo or out of fear of persecution, when one stands up for what is right.
Although utterly tragic because of the injustice on this case, Claudiu is an inspiration to those who never gave up, or gave into the pressures or torture of those in higher positions of power. Yes, his methods were extreme and some may feel that he should have served his sentence as many other prisoners would by bowing down to false accusations, and allowing total submission of his body, mind and soul. Others may feel that he died with dignity and set a precedent for change.
Overall, the film is a reminder of what each of us are capable of enduring as human beings. It shows our strong will to carry on under dire constraints, and the choices that we make, which can result in the betterment of a world of which we are no longer a part.