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View All The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu News
All Critics (16)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (14)
| Rotten (2)
It leaves us almost gasping with its impudence.
Uses Soviet-era lies to uncover buried truths about its subject.
With its hefty running time, the film builds an unexpected emotional resonance, though never exactly sympathy...
As Ujica digs deeper, he enacts a petard-hoisting watchfulness.
A cinematic tour de force that tracks the rise, reign and grim fall of its subject.
The impression Autobiography gives is of the banality of malice, buried within staged celebrations and dry bureaucratic business.
The idea of an autobiography then arises from the official character of the images: the majority, taken by Romanian television during public events under the orders of the regime. [Full review in Spanish]
The result is as monumental as it is ephemeral, and not without a certain ghastly pathos.
...an odd and absorbing film that comes perilously close to fulfilling the promise of its cheeky title (
A staggering, monumental, meticulous achievement.
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu is all about created perception, and Ujică brilliantly manages to craft a film that is not just about a real character, but a formal reflection of its subject.
A powerful indictment of politically manipulated media.
It's such a bold choice to just let all this footage speak for itself, devoid of any narrative, but it makes for a tough document that might be understandable only to those who already have a strong knowledge of Ceausescu's reign. The film aimed high with its ironic title, but I felt like I wasn't in on the joke; I'm not sure I'd rather have been led by the nose like in a Michael Moore documentary, but I could have done with at least a little framing or context.
The "directors' of this film have decided that showing raw footage of speeches, visits of world leaders and general propaganda provides the viewer with the true history of Nicolae Ceausescu. What it does provide is an artificial sense of the man without providing any context of the battle between an autocratic leader and his people. This one begs for commentary.
Exclusively using archival footage, "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu" details the reign of the Romanian leader from his rise to power in 1964 to his calamitous fall in 1989. The highlights include a supremely ballsy repudiation of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Nixon's visit in 1969 which proved the old adage that only Nixon could go to Romania.(There's a Futurama joke in there, I suspect.) All of which along with Romania's warm relations with Communist China paved the way for its independence in the Eastern Bloc.
The irony is that per the film's title this is probably the rosy way that Ceausescu saw things when in fact the reality was much, much worse, as he was in fact quite a repressive leader. Admittedly, accusing him of genocide was probably taking it a little too far.
At the same time, that same irony almost escaped me, until I did a little online research.(Thanks, Wikipedia!) And considering that the average attention span is 5 to 10 minutes, I wouldn't probably be the only one. That's not to mention those people still living in Romania who currently think back on Ceausescu's reign as being the good old days. And then there is the small matter of aesthetics wherein the documentary's lackadaisical editing makes it almost seem like it would best be suited to be streamed on the side of a wall in a museum.
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