The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Directed by Andrei Ujica
Cornerhouse, 19 May 2013
Moving from the funeral of Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceausescu’s assumption to high office in 1965 right up to his interrogation by police officers in 1989, this documentary presents, without explanation or narrative, pictures from the man’s life.
As we see, he supported Czechoslovakia and resented and resisted Russian interference in Rumania, while cultivating relationships with Maoist China, Nixon’s America and de Gaulle. In some respects, he served his country well, or at least was sincere in wishing to do so, by keeping it on an independent path – this film suggests that possibility, at any roads. Ceausescu is seen mostly in public, performing for an audience, and it is difficult to get any authentic sense of the man.
The film uses only state-approved footage, though the odd dissenting voice does creep in, and the black and white images of a Cold War country – grey apartment buildings, clean and shiny car factories, sparsely shelved shops, the muddy fields of collective farms – are bleakly, oddly beautiful. You wouldn’t want to live there, mind. You’d go insane.
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu is showing as part of the Anguish and Enthusiasm Film Programme. Details of further films can be found here.