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  • Observations on Work, Employment & Education

    Joachim Schätz

    The „Indi­vi­du­al Respon­si­bi­li­ty“ Con

    The beautiful, angry gig-economy comedy "Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World" (2023, Radu Jude) doesn't have to look far for exploitative conditions in Bucharest, but finds them en-route in a production assistant's car.

    Help, the Austrians are coming! Pro­duc­tion assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) races through Bucharest, in response to an Austrian company com­mis­sio­ning an occup­a­tio­nal safety video for its Romanian factory. When she’s not visiting accident survivors from the factory to cast them for inter­views for the safety video, the bad-tempered media worker is scouting out an exclusive evening enter­tain­ment venue for the dele­ga­ti­on from Austria expected for the shoot. In between, Angela does Uber tours and uploads social media videos in which she absurdly outbids miso­gy­nistic influ­en­cers like Andrew Tate[1], whose face she super­im­po­ses over her own.

    With “Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World”, filmmaker Radu Jude, one of con­tem­pora­ry cinema’s most gifted pranks­ters, has succeeded in creating a comedy that not only narrates the dis­so­lu­ti­on of the gig economy’s bounda­ries, but also makes it tangible in its rough and tumble form: a dere­gu­la­ted working day as a bilious stream of verbal diarrhea, to which the car radio provides unending daily material for tirades and corny jokes (note: King Charles is a quasi-local celebrity because of a Romanian estate), while pene­tra­ting beats are meant to keep the per­ma­nent­ly over­wor­ked Angela from dozing off in traffic. On the visual level, grainy 16mm film rubs up hard against TikTok filters. During her break, Angela rushes to a cemetery to move her father’s grave before diggers arrive for a new invest­ment property. Meanwhile, the ‘Eastalgia’ exit option is debunked by footage from a 1981 Bucharest cab driver drama, which, alongside real-socialist messages of edi­fi­ca­ti­on, reveal plenty of sideways glances at the economy of scarcity and toxic-masculine routines.

    The two and a half hours of unrelen­ting ranting from the filmmaker and prot­ago­nist is exhaus­ting. (Anyone who finds all two Slavoj Žižek quotes in the film, which are listed in the credits: please don’t contact me). But the know-it-all cle­ver­ness and exaspe­ra­ted bad mood are not ends to them­sel­ves, they want more. Like the dancing reflec­tions in Angela’s car that emanate from her glit­te­ring sequin dress, all the assembled material crystal­li­zes coher­ent­ly around some angry, very concrete obser­va­tions on the current rela­ti­ons­hip between work and image production.

    Two of these obser­va­tions should be briefly mentioned here: firstly, the narrative of Angela’s ago­ni­zin­gly endless day with the accident risk of overtired crew members puts the spotlight on a long and hotly debated issue of occup­a­tio­nal safety in the film industry. As the inspi­ra­ti­on for the film, in inter­views (for example here), Jude himself refers to the recent traffic fatality of a worn-out Romanian film worker exhausted from shooting. Similar cases of life-threa­tening fatigue from long days of filming are common in the US – long before recent #metoo and last year’s US union strikes – and well-known enough that legendary cine­ma­to­gra­pher Haskell Wexler (“The Con­ver­sa­ti­on”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) made a docu­men­ta­ry on that subject back in 2006. An insight­ful report on the topic from 2018 can be found here.. For the general theme of the film – a dere­gu­la­ti­on of work that attempts to advertise new forms of explo­ita­ti­on as a gain in autonomy (the ‘con’) – such incidents are a welcome example as unlike set accidents they do not usually fall under the liability of pro­duc­tion companies.

    Inte­res­tin­g­ly, and secondly, the satire sur­roun­ding the Austrian safety video aims to achieve something similar: The adver­ti­sing for safety measures is intended to shift the respon­si­bi­li­ty for past workplace accidents entirely onto the side of the workers. Jude takes this audacity to the extreme in a final sequence lasting over half an hour, which shows the safety video shooting in a few static shots. From behind the camera, the director and the company repre­sen­ta­ti­ve (Nina Hoss) who has travelled to the location talk to Ovidiu (Ovidiu Pîrsan), who is sitting in a wheel­chair, to ‘adapt’ his expe­ri­ence report to the requi­re­ments of corporate PR: Please don’t mention any deli­ve­ries to Russia, and certainly no cost-saving security risks for the company, while the dila­pi­da­ted factory barrier falls apart in the back­ground of the picture.

    This planned sequence fits in with the Romanian art cinema of the last two decades, which has attracted attention since the bre­akthrough successes of Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”, 2005) and Corneliu Porumboiu (“12:08 – East of Bucharest”, 2006) with con­cep­tual­ly ambitious, elasti­cal­ly performed radical realism. The final act of “Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” also alludes to an even older theme in Romanian cinema, which deals with pedago­gi­cal film pro­duc­tion as a demons­tra­ti­on of power: After a sen­sa­tio­nal bank robbery in Bucharest in 1959, the Secu­ri­ta­te[2] forced the six convicts to re-enact their alleged offenses in an ela­bo­r­ate­ly produced public infor­ma­ti­on film called “Recon­sti­tui­rea” (1960). (Five of the convicts were executed in the same year the film was produced. Wikipedia is actually a good starting point for further research in this case). Eight years later, Lucian Pintilie, one of Romania’s central cinema moder­nists, took this case as the starting point for a bitter satire with the same title: “Recon­sti­tui­rea” (1968) is about two young people who are forced by the police to re-enact a brawl for which they were convicted for an edu­ca­tio­nal film on violence. Pin­ti­lie’s film caused an inter­na­tio­nal sensation and was banned by the Romanian cultural authorities.

    It is difficult not to recognize an update of this scenario of public sub­ju­ga­ti­on, in Jude’s film, where, by appearing in front of the camera for a small fee, a man gives up his right to sue his employer for failing to take the necessary safety measures.

    Joachim Schätz, film scholar, is a uni­ver­si­ty assistant at the Depart­ment of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vienna. He led the project “Practices of edu­ca­tio­nal film in Austria” in 2019–2023. Results at https://www.lehrfilmpraktiken.at

    Refe­ren­zen:
    Busch, Anita: Hollywood’s Grueling Hours & Drowsy-Driving Problem: Crew Members Speak Out Despite Threat To Careers, in: Deadline, 1.2.2018:
    Goi, Leonardo: „Rules Stop Me from Daring”: Radu Jude on Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World”, in: Filmmaker Magazine, 10.8.2023:
    Leu, Dora/Öykü Sofuoğlu: An Enfant Terrible in Terrible Times: Radu Jude Discusses “Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World”, in: MUBI, 17.10.2023:

    [1] The American-British social media entre­pre­neur and kickboxer Tate achieved online fame and up to seven million followers on Twitter with his posts famous for miso­gy­nistic state­ments. A resident of Romania since 2017, he was only charged with rape, human traf­fi­cking and forming a criminal orga­niz­a­ti­on in June 2023 — after the film had already finished shooting.
    [2] The Secu­ri­ta­te was the secret police agency of the Socialist Republic of Romania, like the STASI in the German Demo­cra­tic Republic.

    Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, 2023, RO/LU/FR/HR, Radu Jude, Trailer 

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    The „Indi­vi­du­al Respon­si­bi­li­ty“ Con

    Joachim Schätz

    The beautiful, angry gig-economy comedy "Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World" (2023, Radu Jude) doesn't have to look far for exploitative conditions in Bucharest, but finds them en-route in a production assistant's car.

    Help, the Austrians are coming! Pro­duc­tion assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) races through Bucharest, in response to an Austrian company com­mis­sio­ning an occup­a­tio­nal safety video for its Romanian factory. When she’s not visiting accident survivors from the factory to cast them for inter­views for the safety video, the bad-tempered media worker is scouting out an exclusive evening enter­tain­ment venue for the dele­ga­ti­on from Austria expected for the shoot. In between, Angela does Uber tours and uploads social media videos in which she absurdly outbids miso­gy­nistic influ­en­cers like Andrew Tate[1], whose face she super­im­po­ses over her own.

    With “Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World”, filmmaker Radu Jude, one of con­tem­pora­ry cinema’s most gifted pranks­ters, has succeeded in creating a comedy that not only narrates the dis­so­lu­ti­on of the gig economy’s bounda­ries, but also makes it tangible in its rough and tumble form: a dere­gu­la­ted working day as a bilious stream of verbal diarrhea, to which the car radio provides unending daily material for tirades and corny jokes (note: King Charles is a quasi-local celebrity because of a Romanian estate), while pene­tra­ting beats are meant to keep the per­ma­nent­ly over­wor­ked Angela from dozing off in traffic. On the visual level, grainy 16mm film rubs up hard against TikTok filters. During her break, Angela rushes to a cemetery to move her father’s grave before diggers arrive for a new invest­ment property. Meanwhile, the ‘Eastalgia’ exit option is debunked by footage from a 1981 Bucharest cab driver drama, which, alongside real-socialist messages of edi­fi­ca­ti­on, reveal plenty of sideways glances at the economy of scarcity and toxic-masculine routines.

    The two and a half hours of unrelen­ting ranting from the filmmaker and prot­ago­nist is exhaus­ting. (Anyone who finds all two Slavoj Žižek quotes in the film, which are listed in the credits: please don’t contact me). But the know-it-all cle­ver­ness and exaspe­ra­ted bad mood are not ends to them­sel­ves, they want more. Like the dancing reflec­tions in Angela’s car that emanate from her glit­te­ring sequin dress, all the assembled material crystal­li­zes coher­ent­ly around some angry, very concrete obser­va­tions on the current rela­ti­ons­hip between work and image production.

    Two of these obser­va­tions should be briefly mentioned here: firstly, the narrative of Angela’s ago­ni­zin­gly endless day with the accident risk of overtired crew members puts the spotlight on a long and hotly debated issue of occup­a­tio­nal safety in the film industry. As the inspi­ra­ti­on for the film, in inter­views (for example here), Jude himself refers to the recent traffic fatality of a worn-out Romanian film worker exhausted from shooting. Similar cases of life-threa­tening fatigue from long days of filming are common in the US – long before recent #metoo and last year’s US union strikes – and well-known enough that legendary cine­ma­to­gra­pher Haskell Wexler (“The Con­ver­sa­ti­on”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) made a docu­men­ta­ry on that subject back in 2006. An insight­ful report on the topic from 2018 can be found here.. For the general theme of the film – a dere­gu­la­ti­on of work that attempts to advertise new forms of explo­ita­ti­on as a gain in autonomy (the ‘con’) – such incidents are a welcome example as unlike set accidents they do not usually fall under the liability of pro­duc­tion companies.

    Inte­res­tin­g­ly, and secondly, the satire sur­roun­ding the Austrian safety video aims to achieve something similar: The adver­ti­sing for safety measures is intended to shift the respon­si­bi­li­ty for past workplace accidents entirely onto the side of the workers. Jude takes this audacity to the extreme in a final sequence lasting over half an hour, which shows the safety video shooting in a few static shots. From behind the camera, the director and the company repre­sen­ta­ti­ve (Nina Hoss) who has travelled to the location talk to Ovidiu (Ovidiu Pîrsan), who is sitting in a wheel­chair, to ‘adapt’ his expe­ri­ence report to the requi­re­ments of corporate PR: Please don’t mention any deli­ve­ries to Russia, and certainly no cost-saving security risks for the company, while the dila­pi­da­ted factory barrier falls apart in the back­ground of the picture.

    This planned sequence fits in with the Romanian art cinema of the last two decades, which has attracted attention since the bre­akthrough successes of Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”, 2005) and Corneliu Porumboiu (“12:08 – East of Bucharest”, 2006) with con­cep­tual­ly ambitious, elasti­cal­ly performed radical realism. The final act of “Do not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” also alludes to an even older theme in Romanian cinema, which deals with pedago­gi­cal film pro­duc­tion as a demons­tra­ti­on of power: After a sen­sa­tio­nal bank robbery in Bucharest in 1959, the Secu­ri­ta­te[2] forced the six convicts to re-enact their alleged offenses in an ela­bo­r­ate­ly produced public infor­ma­ti­on film called “Recon­sti­tui­rea” (1960). (Five of the convicts were executed in the same year the film was produced. Wikipedia is actually a good starting point for further research in this case). Eight years later, Lucian Pintilie, one of Romania’s central cinema moder­nists, took this case as the starting point for a bitter satire with the same title: “Recon­sti­tui­rea” (1968) is about two young people who are forced by the police to re-enact a brawl for which they were convicted for an edu­ca­tio­nal film on violence. Pin­ti­lie’s film caused an inter­na­tio­nal sensation and was banned by the Romanian cultural authorities.

    It is difficult not to recognize an update of this scenario of public sub­ju­ga­ti­on, in Jude’s film, where, by appearing in front of the camera for a small fee, a man gives up his right to sue his employer for failing to take the necessary safety measures.

    Joachim Schätz, film scholar, is a uni­ver­si­ty assistant at the Depart­ment of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vienna. He led the project “Practices of edu­ca­tio­nal film in Austria” in 2019–2023. Results at https://www.lehrfilmpraktiken.at

    Refe­ren­zen:
    Busch, Anita: Hollywood’s Grueling Hours & Drowsy-Driving Problem: Crew Members Speak Out Despite Threat To Careers, in: Deadline, 1.2.2018:
    Goi, Leonardo: „Rules Stop Me from Daring”: Radu Jude on Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World”, in: Filmmaker Magazine, 10.8.2023:
    Leu, Dora/Öykü Sofuoğlu: An Enfant Terrible in Terrible Times: Radu Jude Discusses “Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World”, in: MUBI, 17.10.2023:

    [1] The American-British social media entre­pre­neur and kickboxer Tate achieved online fame and up to seven million followers on Twitter with his posts famous for miso­gy­nistic state­ments. A resident of Romania since 2017, he was only charged with rape, human traf­fi­cking and forming a criminal orga­niz­a­ti­on in June 2023 — after the film had already finished shooting.
    [2] The Secu­ri­ta­te was the secret police agency of the Socialist Republic of Romania, like the STASI in the German Demo­cra­tic Republic.

    Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, 2023, RO/LU/FR/HR, Radu Jude, Trailer

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

    Erwarte nicht zu viel vom Ende der Welt, 2023, Radu Jude, Filmstill

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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.