Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu
Romania, 2010, 187 min
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu opens with footage of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu at their trial in 1989, just before their execution. The couple is exhausted but defiant. “I will only answer to the Grand Assembly,” Ceausescu says, “whatever your masquerade is.” “It was your masquerade for 25 years,” his unseen questioner retorts. Andrei Ujica’s biting film documents that masquerade. In this collage of clips from Ceausescu’s official filmed record, there is no sign of Romania’s mass poverty or the countless sick and abandoned children who were the product of Ceausescu’s laws against contraception. Instead there are cheering crowds, grandiose building projects, meetings with international figures like Charles de Gaulle and Jimmy Carter, and Ceausescu’s obvious fascination with the obsequious political theater of Mao’s China and Kim ll Sung’s North Korea. At moments, the happy veneer wears thin. The audio from a live broadcast of the 1977 earthquake records the collapse of a crowded concert theater. A courageous Communist official refuses to vote for Ceausescu’s reelection to the 12th Romanian Congress. For most of the film, however, the viewer will detect smaller fractures of the myth in the managed footage. A crowd of young people clowns around rather than listen to a Ceausescu speech. Workers in a store applaud mechanically beside goods that were shipped in so that Ceausescu could be filmed inspecting them. Ujica chillingly reveals, without comment, the manner in which a dictator constructs, and comes to believe in, his own cult of personality.