The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu:
Serge Daney said that, with the birth of Cinema - more than a century ago - any historical event also exists on film and therefore can be brought in as a witness (at first silent, then with sound) to those events. Andrei Ujică takes it one step further and says, in his astonishing Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu: the life of any historical character sufficiently filmed during his lifetime can be reconstructed by putting together the footage that already exists. The Autobiography... is the last installment of the trilogy started with Videograms of a Revolution and continued with Out of the Present, but, just like the earlier two, this is not a "documentary," nor even a "docudrama." Ujică didn't shoot anything, because everything was already shot; he simply edited the archive material "with Ceauşescu" and reconstructed his historical adventure - an adventure which, dealing with a head of state, formed the very destiny of this state. In a project of this scale, the concept is everything, and the Autobiography...'s concept combines this "third eye" (which is the filmed image) with a reflection on him, on History and on Fiction, which, no matter what, History projects on the collective imagination.
Ujică's film is engaging on so many lev On the one hand because "the third eye hasn't been explored often enough through cinematic means, so the overwhelming reflection on it has been made in writings (Godard’s „Histoire(s) du cinema” being one of the fortunate exceptions). On the other, we're not dealing with any image here, but with strictly images, apparently neutral and "impersonal”: the official images of a dictator. However, also had access to home movies with Ceauşescus (on holidays at home in the mountains, on the seaside, hunting etc) and putting these images together with ones broadcast on TV represents more than a scoop: it's like a legitimation of the "third eye" in its profound and fundamental sense of alternative look. Working with (grosso modo) official images, Ujică has achieved the marvelous paradox of bringing to light (this being the third reason why The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu is so engaging) the alternativity inherent to Cinema. It's as if, traveling incessantly with the Ceauşescus and unseen by them, an Orson Welles had recorded their historical and domestic adventure for a monumental (and infinitesimal at the same time) Citizen Ceauşescu.
How does Ceauşescu "come out" by himself? Unexpectedly complex! His swift political ascent, from the coarse country boy, flanking Gheorghiu-Dej and making his "entry" at Dej's funeral, to the authoritarian and autarchic leader, invited all over the world, from China and North Korea to the White House and Buckingham Palace, is subtended by private clumsiness, just as it is strengthened by public skills. Ceauşescu gradually reveals himself as both clever and candid, inspired and expired, appalling and touching. "The third eye" is watching him, unforgiving and understanding, like a sort of a journal - not a newsreel journal, but an intimate one - which will stand as witness at his "trial" (and which seems, not by chance, filmed with a candid camera!).
alex leo serban, andrei ujica, autobiografia lui nicolae ceausescu film, cronica de film