Lucian Pintilie, a Romanian theater director and filmmaker who emigrated after falling out with the communists and then made a career in France and the United States, died May 16 at a hospital in Bucharest. He was 84.
The Elias Hospital announced his death but did not disclose the cause.
Mr. Pintilie (pronounced pin-teel-YEE-ay) directed plays at the prestigious Bulandra Theater in Bucharest in the 1960s and early ’70s. But his work was censored by the communists, and one film was personally banned by communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu.
That film, “Reenactment,” considered a Romanian classic, was released in 1968 and withdrawn shortly afterward. It was screened in Cannes in 1970 to critical acclaim and shown again in Romania in 1990 shortly after communism ended.
Based on a Romanian novel depicting real-life events, the movie illustrates the incompetence and abuse of power by some officials. It tells of two delinquents embroiled in a drunken brawl who are detained by a prosecutor who then releases them on the condition that they reenact their fight in a restaurant for an educational film.
After the film’s release, Mr. Pintilie moved to France and directed plays at the Théâtre National de Chaillot and the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, where he staged Henrik Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck” and Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.”
Mr. Pintilie also directed operas in France, Britain and Italy. In the 1980s, he directed plays at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and Arena Stage in Washington.
Washington Post theater critic David Richards described Mr. Pintilie’s Arena Stage production of “The Wild Duck,” in 1986, as “theatrical artistry at its most sublime.”
“Single-handedly, it counters decades of dutiful, sober-sided productions that have had the cumulative effect of reducing the great 19th-century Norwegian dramatist to a high-minded scold. The textbooks have always told us that Ibsen is one of the giants of the modern age. Pintilie shows us why.”
Mr. Pintilie was born in Tarutino, Romania (now part of Ukraine), on Nov. 9, 1933. His father was a French teacher, and his mother was a homemaker.
He said he saw himself as a filmmaker, first and foremost, and decried his home country’s attempts to censor his movies.
“It is true, on one level, my work does not correspond to official art,” he told The Post in 1986. “My vision of the world is crueller, more sarcastic, more satirical. But at the same time, there is a great deal of tenderness underneath. ... But the bureaucratic mentality is ridiculous. They are stupid people. They live in a nightmare and they see monsters where none exists. But one day, I shall win this bet. I have a mystical conviction that I will make movies again in my country.”
Mr. Pintilie returned to Romania after communism fell in 1989 and was named director of national film production at the Ministry of Culture. His first film released after his return, “The Oak” (1992), told the story of a communist-era woman who travels through Romania after the death of her father, an official with the country’s secret police.
“Though sometimes baffling,” film critic Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times, “the film is never boring. To feel your way through it is like the exploration of a house of horrors in an amusement park in space. You can’t be sure which way is up.”
Mr. Pintilie’s wife of 42 years, Romanian actress Clody Bertola, died in 2007. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.