"Year of Grace" is a play. In general, such a literary work is not required to respect the historical truth, even if it is inspired by real events. The author of a play, like the screenwriter of an art film, is not required to follow exactly the events as they happened.
The playwright has the freedom to adapt the action, to interpret the historical sources so that the result corresponds to his own vision of the subject and even to complete with certain details that complete the script, so that it is easier to follow and captivate attention. spectators. Because such works are intended for the general public, who are not necessarily interested in the veracity of the facts or dialogues presented in the play.
And yet, in this case, the author manages very well to keep a balance between art and science. It does not alter the historical truth, while preserving the artistic elements characteristic of the dramatic genre. It is easy to see that the author is a good connoisseur of history, the play being well documented. In its creation, studies in the field, specialized articles and especially volumes of memoirs were consulted.
The play has a patriotic character, even nationalist in some places, which is understandable considering that it was written to mark the centenary of the Great Union. However, the author did not avoid more delicate topics, which would not normally be appropriate for such an approach.
For example, it is highlighted that the Romanian army entered the war very poorly prepared, not equipped with the necessary weapons and equipment, although our country benefited from two years of neutrality, which could be used to improve the situation. Corruption among the officers is also underlined, giving as an example General Dumitru Iliescu, promoted by the Prime Minister Ion I. C. Bratianu, his friend, in the position of Chief of the General Staff.
Bratianu is not presented in the classic, exclusively positive way, being considered responsible for Romania's entry into the war unprepared. He and General Iliescu launched the idea that our country would conquer Transylvania in two weeks. In reality, Romania lost the war shortly after the army was mobilized. After a short offensive in Transylvania, our troops were forced to withdraw, and in three months the Central Powers occupied a large part of Romania, including the capital Bucharest. Given that the government under which this disaster occurred was led by Bratianu, its presentation in a less positive way seems to be justifiable.
In antithesis with Bratianu, the figure of Queen Maria appears. She is painted in the most beautiful colors: a fighting woman, brave, determined, generous, great. He did not conceive of his adopted country, which he undoubtedly loved, surrendering, giving up the fight, in order to save himself. He would have preferred to fight until the last moment, to keep our honor. "Because there is no slave's blood in my veins!", She argued to General Averescu the steadfast position he had taken. Of course, if her wish had been obeyed, most likely our country would have ended up in an even bigger disaster, being completely occupied by enemies. But we should thank Queen Mary for two other things she did for us in those years. It is about the care of the wounded soldiers and about the important role played in determining the recognition of the union of Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania with Romania by the great powers, aspects highlighted in the text of the play.
And because it was about soldiers, it must be emphasized that this dramatic creation pays special attention to those who carried the weight of the war. We have several characters among the soldiers, through whose eyes we can see what the atmosphere was on the battlefield and how they interpreted the events. Our characters make friends on the front, go through dramatic moments, form as people. Most of the soldiers were young peasants, many of whom knew only the world of their native village.
The experience of the war marked them from all points of view. They met different people, coming from other areas, with different habits, with a different way of looking at things. They learned from each other and thus broadened their horizons. The people of Regatta learned from the Transylvanians how to live beyond the mountains and from the Bessarabians how life flowed across the Prut. This contact, through the exchange of experiences and stories, changed their mentality, making them more open. The scene in which one of the soldiers recounts his experience during the peasant uprising of 1907, when the army fired on the population, another reaches a revealing conclusion: "You know what those soldiers who fired at us looked like. ? Like you! Like me! And do you know how they shot at us? How we shoot the Germans! That's how they fired! ... ”.
A personality presented differently from how he usually appears in historiography is Alexandru Marghiloman. Generally called a Germanophile and even a traitor, because he signed peace with the Central Powers, Marghiloman is presented by the author as one who sacrificed both his political career and his image in the face of history. Someone had to sign the peace, and he had the courage to take on this responsibility.
Also, the author contradicts (literally) the idea that almost all Romanians wanted our country to go to war with the Entente, showing that opinions were divided. Many personalities wanted Romania to participate in the conflict with the Central Powers, but even more wanted to remain neutral. Marghiloman was one of the latter. This dispute is very well summarized in the play. After the war, the option taken by Romania proved to be the correct one, but this only due to a whole series of conjunctures that could not be anticipated in 1914 or 1916.
The choice of the Entente had all the chances to be fatal for our country, the author emphasizing, through the voices of the politicians of that time, the risks of such an alliance. A collaboration with Russia meant bringing troops of the Tsarist Empire on Romanian territory, which was a great danger. Some had lived the experience of the previous alliance with Russia, which after using Romanian troops to defeat the Ottoman Empire, annexed three counties in southern Bessarabia that were at that time part of Romania.
The author knows the main protagonists quite well, which can be seen from their dialogues. The way of addressing, the reactions, the tone they speak, the themes they approach, the expressions used by the characters are characteristic of the real personalities they illustrate. I can easily recognize, just by reading the lines, Regina Maria, Alexandru Marghiloman, Petre P. Carp, Constantin Stere, Nicolae Iorga, but also the representatives of the Bessarabians (Ion Pelivan, Ion Buzdugan, Ion Inculet).
There are certain aspects presented in this play that could be questioned by some readers or spectators. All important events were taken from various studies, articles, but especially memorial works. Of course, especially the latter do not present indisputable truths, but it is important to emphasize that the author of this play is not responsible for the inaccuracy of certain information, but those of the respective sources.
For example, the information according to which the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians had discussed the possibility of a division of Romania is mentioned both in Nicolae Iorga's memoirs and in Alexandru Marghiloman's diary. Corruption in the Romanian army and its unpreparedness are discussed in a recent study published in a journal.
Information regarding the Bolshevism of a part of the Russian army and the problems that the Romanians had with it can be found both in scientific studies and in memorial works. The details related to the situation of the Romanians from Bessarabia under the tsarist regime were taken especially from a work of Vasile Moisiu, written after his visit in the province between Prut and Nistru.
Even some elements of detail can be found in various works. The scene in which General Mackensen tells that he saw Queen Maria on the front, together with the Romanian soldiers, was narrated by Constantin Bacalbasa, and the scene in which the Romanian sovereign declares that no slave's blood flows through her veins appears in General Averescu's diary . The information according to which, at the entrance of the Romanian army on the territory of communist Hungary, the population of this country ate, due to poverty, only pumpkins, was launched by Constantin Kiritescu, and the scene of the meeting between King Ferdinand and Count Czernin was reproduced according to Averescu's notes. and Marghiloman's.
In conclusion, "Year of Grace" is a dramatic creation with obvious literary and artistic qualities, intended for the general public. However, it also satisfies the exigencies of those who know history, respecting the historical truth to a much greater extent than would be required for such a work
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