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Benito Di Fonzo, Sydney Morning Herald.
May 25, 2007
In Romulus, My Father, Marton Csokas (Lord of the Rings, xXx) takes a break from playing elves and villains to assume a role closer to his heart. The son of a Hungarian immigrant plays Hora, the Hungarian voice of hope and sanity opposite Eric Bana's troubled Romanian in Richard Roxburgh's directorial debut.
It's based on philosopher Raimond Gaita's memoirs of the country Victorian shack where his father raised him with the help of Hora. Meanwhile, his German mother (Franka Potente, Run Lola Run) disappears to the city with her lover (Russell Dykstra), who is also Hora's brother. Romulus, My Father encapsulates the seldom-told struggle of the Eastern Europeans who came to Australia after suffering both Nazi and Soviet occupation.
"There are certainly similarities to the stories that my father and friends of the family told me," Csokas says.
"They shared the shock of the new, coming from an old established culture and what it was to arrive in a very foreign land. My father was the only person left in his family, and off he went from 12 years old. The story of Romulus is not dissimilar to that. The boy at the centre of the story, Raimond, has the wisdom of the old world in a burgeoning new land, and that's what struck me as the most wonderful thing about this story."
The film explores how young Gaita (Kodi Smit-McPhee) deals with the tragedy that unfolds in his life as his extended family try to survive and stay sane in rural post-war Australia. This bleakness is balanced by the optimistic Hora, who introduces the future philosopher to the works of Bertrand Russell as they watch the sun set.
"He's the light in the darkness, which is why I loved playing Hora," Csokas says. "He's full of sun and life. I could do with a lot more of Hora in my life."
Romulus, My Father
Directed by Richard Roxburgh
Stars Eric Bana, Marton Csokas, Franka Potente
Rated M. Opens Thursday.
There is a Q&A and screening of the fi lm with Bana at the Cremorne Opheum on Tuesday at 6.30pm.