The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu: seeing red | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu: seeing red 

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Romanian expatriate Andrei Ujica spent four years combing through the national film and television archives of his homeland to assemble this epic documentary, which uses official images of communist political pageantry to revisit Nicolae Ceausescu's quarter century of misrule. Like the slow-moving but hypnotic dramas of the Romanian new wave (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days), the documentary is impressive for its formal discipline: there's no narration or commentary, and the sound even cuts out occasionally, leaving nothing but the dusty static of a magnetic strip. The movie begins and ends with the famous broadcast video of Ceausescu and his wife brushing off the questions of a military tribunal during the fall of the socialist republic in 1989, shortly before they faced a firing squad. These blurry shots bracket nearly three hours of grandiose state propaganda, skillfully edited to replicate the feedback loop of glory that isolated Ceausescu from his people and, finally, from reality. In Romanian with subtitles.

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