Beyond the Hills is for me primarily a film about love and free will: mostly about how love can turn the concepts of good and evil into very relative ones. Most of the greatest mistakes of this world have been made in the name of faith, and with the absolute conviction they were done for a good cause.
Beyond the Hills also speaks about a certain way of experiencing religion. It has always concerned me how much attention believers place on respecting religious habits and rules and how little on applying the essence and wisdom of Christianity to their day to- day life, for example.
Preparing for the film I read carefully the list of sins compiled by the Orthodox Church. There are quite a lot (464) and reading them, you cannot but ask yourself all kind of questions. Still, there is a sin that is not listed and which is amongst the most important things about which the film wishes to speak: the sin of indifference. Or maybe it is not a sin, since it’s not listed. But then what is it? Is it dangerous or not?
The film also speaks about the various ways in which Evil can manipulate people, and the subtle ways in which it can manifest itself. I wonder whether indifference is not one of them. Deep down, I hope, Beyond the Hills speaks about options and choices in life deriving from education or from the lack of education, and about how many things in life derive from things that you cannot influence, or of which you are not guilty: where you were brought into the world, by whom, and in the middle of which community.
The film also speaks about a region of the world - like many others - where longtime exposure to an endless succession of misfortunes and atrocities of all kinds has led to a breed of inert people who have lost their normal reactions in front of normal stimuli. This is not necessarily their fault - it is just a natural survival mechanism, but one which is experienced as an extra burden for those still alive amongst them.
Cristian Mungiu, 2012