Gruber’s Journey

Directed by Radu Gabrea

Romania, 2008

Color, 100 minutes

Cast: Florin Piersic Jr., Marcel Iures, Udo Schenk, Alexandru Bindea, Claudiu Bleont, Razvan Vasilescu, Andi Vasluianu

Awards: Best Director Award, Levante International Film Festival

Many Romanians view the interwar period through rose-colored glasses: their country had grown substantially, the economy boomed, and Romania’s capital, Bucharest, deserved the nickname of “little Paris.” There is little room in this nostalgic view for official anti-Semitism. On closer inspection, the post-World War I period was one of aggressive centralization and rough treatment of ethnic minorities. Radu Gabrea’s film focuses on a couple of days in June 1941 when a pogrom took place in the city of Iasi. In 1940 Romania was ruled by a right-wing dictatorship and had joined the Axis in the war against the Soviet Union.

Curzio Malaparte, a journalist and member of the Italian Fascist party, covered the Eastern front for the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera. He later used his wartime reporting for his 1944 novel Kaputt. Malaparte, the main character in Grüber’s Journey, is played by Florin Piersic Jr. the son of the legendary Romanian actor Florin Piersic.

In June 1941 Malaparte stops in Iasi on his way to the Russian front and his sojourn turns into a nightmare: he has severe allergies, his hotel is bombed, and he has to navigate the intricate local bureaucracy in search of a doctor. Malaparte tries to locate Josef Grüber, a highly recommended Jewish doctor. While Malaparte searches for Grüber, the Romanian authorities are staging a pogrom and disposing of Jewish bodies.

Madalina Veres

Special thanks to the National Center for Jewish Film (Brandeis University) for permitting us to screen this movie and publish stills from it on this website.