It's the 22nd of December. Sixteen years have passed since the revolution, and in a small town Christmas is about to come. Piscoci, an old retired man is preparing for another Christmas ... See full summary »
An apartment kitchen: a man and a woman discuss Little Red Riding Hood, their voices hushed, mindful of waking the little girl sleeping next room. Waste land on the city outskirts: behind a... See full summary »
Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev is the focus of this chronicle of life on the Russian space station Mir, showing what outer space is really like. In addition to the routine day-to-day activities ... See full summary »
Out of enthusiasm, a Militia soldier abandons his platoon and decides to fight for the cause of the Revolution. His Lieutenant and the rest of the crew look for him during the confused night of 22-23 December 1989.
A story about the illusion of getting rich in Romania. In a country where stories of striking it rich are everywhere, anyone thinks such a thing is not only possible, but it's easily ... See full summary »
Occident is a bittersweet comedy that focuses on the growing tendency of Eastern European youth to migrate west. When the amicable Luci (Alexandru Papadopol) and his beautiful lover Sorina ... See full summary »
During the summary trial that he and his wife were submitted to, Nicolae Ceausescu is reviewing his long reign in power: 1965-1989. From a formal point of view, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu proves that it is possible to only use existing images to yield films focused on recent history, yet with an epic vein similar to that of the historical fiction cinema. This is an eminently syntactic endeavor, where montage plays a twofold part: mise-en-scene, as it builds scenes that do not exist as such in the rushes, and classical editing, connecting scenes together. Written by
Cannes Film Festival
This film may have some interest for people who lived in Rumania through the Ceausescu era, as it shows many of the films and television footage they will have seen over the years. But for anyone else, it is a terrible, terrible film which adds nothing at all to one's understanding. And it is overwhelmingly, excruciatingly dull. The most you can say for it is that it familiarizes you, far more than you ever want, with the face of that ridiculous man.
It opens with the footage most people around the world have seen of the dictator and his wife sitting at what appear to be little schoolroom desks. They are being confronted with charges, as if in some sort of court, and being asked to enter a plea. He steadfastly refuses. All we hear of his crimes is someone off camera accuses him of ordering the shooting of people in a crowd and of bringing the country to the brink of ruin. The scene lasts only a few minutes, then switches to the funeral of his predecessor, the first of many official events and ceremonies. Footage of long lines of people outside the building, shuffling into the building, moving up the stairs, down the corridor, into the room where the body lies, footage of ordinary people viewing the body, footage of this dignitary and that dignitary viewing the body, footage of people leaving the building, footage of the body being carried out and placed on a stage, footage of Ceausescu giving a funeral speech, all this goes on for what seems like forever, conveying next to nothing to the viewer. For nearly three hours we are shown extended--painfully extended--official footage of state events, parades, speeches, dinners, visits by leaders from other countries, Ceausescu visiting other countries. There is really nothing else in the film other than these long, almost meaningless pieces.
The nearest thing to drama comes in a scene in the last half-hour or so at a national party congress. A party official takes the podium and accuses Ceausescu of manipulating the event to have himself re-elected. Someone in the audience shouts it's a lie, and immediately the entire room rises, shouts, and chants, calling for Ceausescu to be re-elected. That is the extent of understanding we are given of the dictatorship. Why on earth was he so reviled that the people rose up against him? Was the country struggling? Were people hungry? Was there injustice and corruption? We have no idea. Was the regime repressive? Not a word is given. At one point we see Ceausescu touring a couple of well stocked food stores. My guess is that a Romanian might watch that and scream that it was all a set-up and that the real stores were empty and the people were starving. But nothing like that is told. Why are we watching him tour the stores? No explanation, just more dreary official footage.
It boggles the mind how anyone could put together such a pointless film as this. It adds nothing to one's understanding of the man, the nation, or the times he presided over. It's simply official archival material strung together chronologically. And, just to be clear, this is a million miles from high-art Leni Riefenstahl material. As a complete outsider, who only knows of the revolution against Ceausescu from news reports at the time, I could have done a better job of shedding light on the life and times of Ceausescu. I don't think I've ever seen a documentary as bad as this before.
For this to get a rating of 7.9 is absurd. Surely the people involved in the film have been here to rate it highly. I give it 1 for Awful because there is no lower rating.
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