Directed by: Octavian Repede
Written by: Octavian Repede
Starring: Augustin Ungureanu, Cristian Stanca, Florin Nicula, Laura Petresc, Catalin Neghina, Cristian Ciomaga
Indie Film Review by: Hannah Sayer
In 141 A.D. Mission in Dacia, Marcus the Roman Centurion, played by Augustin Ungureanu, is sent
on a journey to find a cure to a plague which has been linked to mythology and an omen observed in the night sky. Octavian Repede’s Romanian mystery film follows this mission Marcus takes with other soldiers to the Serpent Mountains where the unexpected is laid out before them.
The film opens with a detailed description about the Halley Comet observed in the sky, an omen which has appeared for thousands of years. Every time the Comet has appeared every 74-79 years, it has been said to produce both fascination and fear amongst those who witness it. It has been related to prophecies from the ancient Roman past and civilisations which have come before the year 141 A.D.
This introduction is visually exciting and sets the scene: Year 141, Dacia Province, Somewhere at the border of the Roman Empire. Two centurion soldiers are riding through the fields in Dacia Province when they see a star shining bright in the star, which they exclaim is like the one which appeared in the past. This is an omen of the bad times to come, as when this was seen in the past the Noricum plague broke out and caused people across nine cities to die. An ominous tone is created as one remarks: “And for us... what’s waiting for us?”
The film sets the scene well through its use of visually stunning shots of the landscape. Its visual style provokes intrigue, as the camera lingers on images while action is happening off screen, leaving the viewer waiting to learn more. This builds suspense and is a more prominent stylistic choice as the plot is set up towards the beginning of the film.
As the film goes on, the premise becomes extremely hard to follow, as important plot points aren’t explained well or in depth. The cinematography often mirrors this, as murky colour schemes match the dull and dreary action unfolding on screen. However, the eerie music accompanying the majority of the film’s scenes does heighten tension, especially through use of natural sounds.
141 A.D. Mission in Dacia works well at establishing a sense of mystery and introducing mythology into the mix. It is certainly intriguing at times, but it runs short of suspense across its feature length run time which feels overly long and its convoluted structure means that the film and its context is hard to follow and completely understand.
Watch the official movie trailer for 141 A.D. Mission in Dacia below.