The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

30 Sep

It wasn’t exactly the best way to ring in the New Year, but last night I dragged M to Northwest Film Forum to see the three-hour documentary The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu. Absent of narration, the film is a collage of propaganda from 1965-1989, book-ended with clips from the show trial that preceded his and his wife Elena’s execution on Christmas Day, 1989. Throughout the film, pompous news reel music, chants, and clapping alternate with eerie moments of crackly silence. One of the most memorable clips, for me, showed Ceausecu beside Mao Zedong, not quite knowing what do with himself. There is also a technicolor dazzler of a tribute in Pyongyang, at which Ceausecu and Kim Il-sung gaped gleefully.  It was certainly an interesting experience gleaning what I could from the juxtapositions of images, such as the gradual but palpable shift in the filmed crowds from fanatical support to grim and nervous half-smiles.

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