‘R.M.N.’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Rudi, Matthias And Csilla?


Christian Mungiu’s Romanian drama film R.M.N. seems to initially begin as a horror, when a young boy named Rudi is spooked by something in the forest while walking to school one day. The boy is immensely scared by whatever he sees, to the extent of not talking to anyone for days after the incident, and before we get to know what it actually was, the film takes a turn towards drama. What unfolds is undoubtedly more horrific than any supernatural horror story, as a village starts to turn against a few because of their differences. Based on a very real incident that took place in Romania’s Ditrau in 2020, R.M.N. successfully provokes the thoughts and questions that it sets out to raise.

Spoilers Alert

‘R.M.N.’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Set in a small, unnamed village in the Transylvania region of Romania, R.M.N. begins with young Rudi walking out of his house to go to school. As the path cuts through a thick area of the nearby forest, which is just around the village, Rudi enters the woods and seems to spot something unnatural. The boy stops in his tracks, visibly scared, and then runs back towards his house. Soon, we are informed that young Rudi has stopped talking to anyone following the incident.

Somewhere in Germany, a man named Matthias works in a meat slaughterhouse and lives as an immigrant worker. Hailing from Romania, Matthias is often looked down upon by Germans, which becomes clear from an incident very early into the film. A co-worker calls Matthias a “gypsy,” and the hot-headed protagonist reacts with violence. As the scene gets bloody, Matthias hurries out of the factory and leaves the country, hitchhiking his way back to his home in the same unnamed village in Transylvania.

Matthias’ return home is not a celebrated event, for his estranged wife Ana has already learned not to keep any hopes or expectations from her husband. Matthias has seemingly been absent from her life whenever he has wanted to, and it is revealed that Rudi is the couple’s son. The tough father is bemused to hear that his son is too scared to walk to school by himself, and he also does not understand his silence following the incident in the forest. Questioning the ways in which Ana has been raising Rudi by herself, Matthias manages to sour his relationship with his wife once again and spends more time with his father, Papa Otto.

Another person that Matthias starts to frequently visit after his return is Csilla, with whom he had a romantic relationship for seemingly many years, even after his marriage. Although Csilla does at times give in to the man’s advances, she mostly stays busy with her bakery business, which she runs with another woman named Mrs. Denes. As the bakery puts out advertisements looking for new workers, none of the locals apply for the position for many days. Still in urgent need of workers, Csilla and Mrs. Denes consider opening up the job offer to interested foreign nationals as well.

How Does “R.M.N.” Become A Tale Of Utmost Racism And Intolerance?

The central idea in R.M.N. is to go beneath the surface of many occurrences in society and try to understand the reasoning behind them, as put by Christian Mungiu himself. The notion of an outsider and interpreting an outsider as an invader is something that exists at the core of the film. The unnamed village itself has its own share of ethnic tension, owing to the fact that it is a rural conglomeration of people of multiple ethnicities. As the villagers themselves state, rural areas are not as free and willing to be multicultural as the big cities of Romania, where people from different backgrounds can still coexist in harmony. Nonetheless, the villagers already have to share life between three primary ethnicities—native Romanians like Matthias and his father, Papa Otto; Hungarian settlers like Csilla; and also people who fled from Germany and settled in the country, possibly around times of war.

There are multiple mentions of the Romani people, referred to as “gypsies” by the villagers, who were the minority community of the country. The villagers proudly talk of the time when they successfully drove away the Romani using force and aggression in their considerably recent past. With all these discussions, the idea of who really is native to the land does come up, particularly when Matthias tells Rudi about his father’s ancestors. Considered a native Romanian, Matthias reveals how Papa Otto’s ancestors had actually come to the country from the neighboring areas of Luxembourg. In that sense, perhaps only the trees and animals of the place are to be considered real natives, and yet, wild animals like bears, boars, and foxes are now looked at as intrusive pests and dangers that are to be shot down.

In a similar manner in which the family of Matthias calls themselves Romanians, the Hungarian settlers have also comfortably made the country, and this village in particular, their home. This, in turn, does not sit well with some of the Romanians, as is brilliantly presented in the community meeting. When someone of Hungarian descent wants the community to act a certain way, others who consider themselves older natives than the first group lash out, calling the Hungarians essentially outsiders. People of German ethnicities are equally looked down upon in such situations, but the villagers manage to hold on as a community without any serious violence other than a gruesome murder some eight years ago.

In this context, the village is almost like a ticking time bomb, only moments away from disaster. There is a persistent problem with languages spoken among the villagers, as Romanians consider Hungarians speaking in their native tongue a disrespect to the land, and vice versa. There are similar demands to wipe out the culture of some communities and keep only a certain way of life as the law of the land. Therefore, when the local bakery hires three workers who are Sri Lankan migrants, the villagers lose all temper, and sparks begin to fly. The three men are first made the subject of a social media group in which the villagers express their insecurity about how they will soon bring in more immigrants and settle on lands that they consider to be the property of the community. Various misconceptions, like the immigrants being Muslim and therefore “unclean,” follow. Statements made by Csila and Mrs. Denes about how the men are actually Catholics and how they have passed all health regulation tests are completely disregarded. When logic fails to support their fears, the villagers simply refuse to buy products from the bakery because they do not want immigrants to touch the dough they are about to eat.

More violent measures also follow, like when the house where the workers had been staying is attacked with a Molotov cocktail, warning them to leave. The owner makes it clear to Csila that he can no longer rent out his house to the Sri Lankans, stating that it is a security concern, despite him knowing who the attackers were. Eventually, the bakery has to cave in and let go of the migrant workers, snatching away the livelihood they were earning. But the scariest part about R.M.N. is that it raises questions, does not provide any answers, and only leaves with subtle reminders that things will only get worse from here on. Matthias and other Romanians who work in Germany in order to earn a stable livelihood have to face racial and ethnic discrimination at their workplace, but when people in similar situations ask for their help, they turn into aggressors with no hesitation whatsoever. R.M.N. successfully builds the idea that these very Sri Lankan men can also possibly warn their own families not to let immigrants into their own communities, and the vicious circle of insecurity and selfishness goes on. After all, this occurrence is a very common matter in the modern world, with countries and communities all over the world restricting themselves from what they fear are intruding migrant settlers.

In fact, R.M.N. takes inspiration from a very real event in this context, which took place in 2020 in a village named Ditrau in Romania. The ethnically Hungarian villagers protested against the decision of a local bakery, which had hired two and then one more Sri Lankan immigrant as workers. Here too, the villagers got the local clergyman’s support and signed a petition to remove the workers from their village, just like in the film. In the actual incident, too, the three men eventually had to be removed from their job and were sent to a different area in Romania before things got more violent.

How Does The Community Meeting Scene Talk About Other Matters As Well?

The community meeting scene undoubtedly provides the best moment in R.M.N., with issues different from race and ethnicity also emerging gradually. While the topic at hand is the Sri Lankan workers at the bakery, the discussion goes around numerous complaints with regard to outsiders and settlers. Then, when Ben is introduced to the villagers, the discussion takes a turn toward social and economic grievances. Ben had come from France as part of some nature and wildlife organization in order to monitor the population of bears in Transylvania and was staying at the village for a few days. When the villagers hear of this, they remark how advanced nations like France and Germany had once happily wiped out their own nature for the sake of advancement and were now trying to preach animal welfare in places like this village. The people clearly state that they have always considered bears a threat to their lives and continue to do so, with no intention to save or protect them. As much as their mentality is wrong in one sense, the film manages to creep in the uncomfortable question of whether the concerns of these people can be simply waved off as ignorance.

It is not that the bakery has some real honorable intentions in hiring migrant workers and giving them a livelihood. As is discussed early on in the film by Csila and Mrs. Denes, hiring immigrants would grant their businesses concessions from the E.U., and therefore, there is a very economic aspect to it as well. When the women talk about how locals were unwilling to work for them and instead just wanted to live on government aid, the villagers reveal the meager pay and irregular work shifts in the bakery, which were not even compensated for. Although Mrs. Denes does state that the bakery had learned from their previous mistakes and had changed their ways, it is not enough to change the local residents’ perception of them. That the European Union holds firm control even in a place like this small village in Transylvania is also revealed soon after when the locals complain about a park that has been built in their community. Instead of more basic amenities like paved streets and sewage facilities, the recently built park is of no use, they state. But the mayor explains that the E.U. had granted funds only for the construction of parks in the village, and therefore, they could not do anything else with the money. Once again, this whole matter does make one wonder whether the villagers’ grievances are really baseless and not to be considered.

‘R.M.N.’ Ending Explained: What Had Rudi Seen In The Forest?

Some of the more spooky mysteries in R.M.N. are left completely unanswered, very intentionally, to add to the uncertainty of the film’s ending. Both the matters regarding what exactly Rudi had seen and what was taking the sheep from Papa Otto’s shed are left as mysteries. The film deals with the feeling of fear and its many reactions, and so young Rudi could have been spooked by just about anything that was unknown to him. It could have been bears that he had seen, or perhaps it could even be anything or anyone that the young boy was not accustomed to seeing. When Matthias later takes the boy into the forest, they spot a vagrant man, so Rudi could have actually been scared by a migrant or a Romani person. While the boy’s fear makes him run away from the situation, the adults also react in a similar hysterical manner, trying to drive away the immigrants in any way possible. Towards the end of the film, Rudi seems to have first seen Papa Otto hanging from a tree in the forest, and it was almost like the young boy had the first hunch about the violence and tragedy that was about to grip the village. Rudi could have been spooked by nothing particular on that first day in the forest but was instead scared by an uncanny feeling of the violent tension already existing in the community.

What was taking away the sheep from the shed is also not given any proper conclusion, and it could be that it was the bears seen at the end that was behind this. It is also suggested by some of the villagers that the migrant workers could be doing this, as they did not eat pork and could have been looking for other sources of meat. However, this suggestion is obviously covered in extreme racist undertones, essentially labeling the immigrants as thieves. R.M.N‘s ending is just as strange as these mysteries, in which we see Matthias come face-to-face with multiple wild bears. The man, who had been almost a pallbearer for toxic masculinity throughout the film, now suddenly comes across these bears. It is not even clear whether these are actual bears or people in costumes, as that could also be based on how the bears look. It could be that Matthias had an inherent fear of the wild animals, and now at this moment of utmost insecurity felt by people all around the village, the man was facing his own fears. Or it could also be that the actual natives of the land are now coming to reclaim their space, in which case Matthias’ survival does look improbable.

On the other side, the bakery business had finally let go of the migrant workers, following which Mrs. Denes decided to end the business altogether. Csilla is not happy about this, and she lets Mrs. Denes know about the job offer she had gotten from Germany. Although Csilla still has to sort things out for the bakery one last time, she now seems to be moving to Germany. It is on this very night that Matthias comes to her place and encounters the bears. The man brings along his gun, and when he seems to point it at Csilla, the woman apologizes to him, the exact reason for which is also unclear. The most probable reason for this apology is that Csilla might have led to Ana finally leaving Matthias’ house with Rudi, as the wife and son were definitely not safe after Matthias lost his only stable bond—his father, Papa Otto.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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