Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

This depiction of a dictator’s life is one very long, intermittently rewarding haul.

Sept 8, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1273698-Ceausescu_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, director Andrei Ucija, using a wealth of archival footage, presents a strangely oblique accounting of the Romanian dictator’s days, which seemed to have been largely full of state receptions and visits. The viewer, who must go along with Ucija’s decision to use no further illuminating narration, therefore might feel somewhat beaten into submission in a way similar to any of Ceausescu’s party members, likely inundated by much the same kind of footage, albeit hopefully used for more positive propagandistic purposes.

Thankfully, much of this found and carefully pasted together footage is mesmerizing, be it the film’s opening with Ceausescu and his wife being interrogated moments before their 1989 execution in a mock trial during which they emphatically deny and refuse to sign anything, or the opening sequence featuring the death and enormous state funeral of Ceausescu predecessor Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. Through his ever-more impressive public appearances, one sees how this slight, none-too-interesting little man with the wild cockscomb of hair became such a ubiquitous symbol of leadership.

Ceausescu’s public opposition to the Soviet Union‘s invasion of Czechoslovakia earned him the admiration and support of much of the rest of the world. The film’s list of high-ranking guest stars includes—all of them making very nice to Ceausescu—Leonid Brezhnev, Charles De Gaulle, Alexander Dubcek of Czechoslovakia, Mao Tse Tung, Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Imelda Marcos, et al.

The endless visual pageantry of sadly tacky official celebrations is intermittently punctuated by the words of the man himself, and the emptiness of his hectoring rhetoric is rather stupefying when you think of the millions of Romanians he seduced. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu, with 90 minutes or more excised to tighten it and perhaps a cleverly antic music score, might even drolly play like a modern comic version of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Or, better yet, watch this in tandem with the delightful Tales of the Golden Age, which has all of the joyous cinematic verve that’s so much easier to respond to.


Film Review: The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

This depiction of a dictator’s life is one very long, intermittently rewarding haul.

Sept 8, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1273698-Ceausescu_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, director Andrei Ucija, using a wealth of archival footage, presents a strangely oblique accounting of the Romanian dictator’s days, which seemed to have been largely full of state receptions and visits. The viewer, who must go along with Ucija’s decision to use no further illuminating narration, therefore might feel somewhat beaten into submission in a way similar to any of Ceausescu’s party members, likely inundated by much the same kind of footage, albeit hopefully used for more positive propagandistic purposes.

Thankfully, much of this found and carefully pasted together footage is mesmerizing, be it the film’s opening with Ceausescu and his wife being interrogated moments before their 1989 execution in a mock trial during which they emphatically deny and refuse to sign anything, or the opening sequence featuring the death and enormous state funeral of Ceausescu predecessor Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. Through his ever-more impressive public appearances, one sees how this slight, none-too-interesting little man with the wild cockscomb of hair became such a ubiquitous symbol of leadership.

Ceausescu’s public opposition to the Soviet Union‘s invasion of Czechoslovakia earned him the admiration and support of much of the rest of the world. The film’s list of high-ranking guest stars includes—all of them making very nice to Ceausescu—Leonid Brezhnev, Charles De Gaulle, Alexander Dubcek of Czechoslovakia, Mao Tse Tung, Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Imelda Marcos, et al.

The endless visual pageantry of sadly tacky official celebrations is intermittently punctuated by the words of the man himself, and the emptiness of his hectoring rhetoric is rather stupefying when you think of the millions of Romanians he seduced. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu, with 90 minutes or more excised to tighten it and perhaps a cleverly antic music score, might even drolly play like a modern comic version of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Or, better yet, watch this in tandem with the delightful Tales of the Golden Age, which has all of the joyous cinematic verve that’s so much easier to respond to.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Film Review: The  ABCs of Death 2

Twenty-six short horror films by 26 different directors equals 26 ways to be disappointed. More »

Film Review: Point and Shoot

Failing to substantially plumb the larger nonfiction questions it raises, this fascinating if flawed documentary recounts the story of an American who chose to fight in the 2011 Libyan revolution. More »

Film Review: Hit by Lightning

Unfunny, poorly directed romantic comedy about a schlub anxious to go along with his beautiful dream girl's plot to kill her husband. More »

Film Review: Private Peaceful

This predictable wartime drama, based on the book by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, is redeemed somewhat by good performances and the craftsmanship of veteran director Pat O’Connor. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here