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Tales From the Golden Age (2009)

Diana Cavallioti , Vlad Ivanov , Cristian Mungiu , Iona Maria Uricaru  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Diana Cavallioti, Vlad Ivanov
  • Directors: Cristian Mungiu, Iona Maria Uricaru, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Constantin Popescu
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kimstim
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0066O10BC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,113 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

The final fifteen years of the Ceausescu regime were the worst in Romania's history. Nonetheless, the propaganda machine of that time relentlessly referred to that period as the country s golden age. Using the moniker as a starting point, Tales from the Golden Age spins the most popular, comic and bizarre urban legends from that harrowing period into a hilariously surreal omnibus film.

Acclaimed director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) wrote the scripts and commissioned the most talented young Romanian filmmakers to collaborate with him, including Razvan Marculescu (co-writer of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and Tuesday, After Christmas) and Constantin Popescu (Portrait of the Fighter As a Young Man). With wit and style to spare, Tales perfectly re-captures the mood of a nation trying to survive under the twisted logic of a brutal dictatorship. It was an era when food was more important than money, freedom more important than love and survival more important than principles.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
(7)
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
As a correspondent for U.S. newspapers, I arrived in Romania when the Communist-era system of lies and secrecy had completely collapsed. The chaos was unimaginable. My plane landed so soon after the 1989 revolution that no customs agents were left at the airport. The first government offices I visited were empty. Grocery store shelves were bare. I found many who dared to talk honestly for the first time in their lives.

So, I lapped up every minute of the 141-minute Tales of the Golden Age by Christian Mungiu and his Romanian filmmaking friends. (Mungiu wrote the scripts, then invited other young filmmakers to shoot the sequences.) Now in its complete form, the film is a series of comedic episodes about life under the half-crazed dictator Nicolai Ceausescu.

The Legend of the Official Visit, the opening vignette in the film, is the most amusing and fully realized of all these tales--and the scene depicted on the new DVD cover. Set in a remote rural village, the story turns on news that the dictator plans to make a personal visit by cruising through the town in his limousine. In scenes that recalled the early films of Federico Fellini, the town also is populated at the moment by a roving family that runs a colorful carousel. Suddenly, bureaucrats descend on the village, planning every last detail of the limousine's procession through the town's one dirt road--right down to the number of cows, vegetable stands and white pigeons that should be positioned along this road. In the end, great quantities of booze and a malfunction at the brightly colored carousel turn this little tale into a deft torpedo of Communist-era buffoonery.

As a journalist, I also loved The Legend of the Party Photographer, set inside the offices of the official government-run newspaper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Silly to the Poignant February 22, 2012
Format:DVD
These six vignettes written by Cristian Mungiu of the famed "4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days" and directed by himself and four others begins in a rather silly vein with "The Legend of the Official Visit", but gradually moves to the more lengthy and oddly believable "The Legend of the Air Sellers" and then the extremely poignant and well-acted "The Legend of the Chicken Driver". This last segment makes all the others work in a profound way, pondering the sadness of materialism over human value and love, the conflict of political obedience over a natural love of material comfort, and to make it full circle, the reality of selfishness and fear over true camaraderie and compassion. The script of "The Chicken Driver" is sheer genius, exploiting the concept of natural "profit" and chickens. (I won' spoil the story.) This metaphorical richness weaves a brilliant story thanks in part to the subtle acting of Vlad Ivanov, star of "4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days" and the excellent "Police Adjective". Fittingly, humor, which runs the length and breadth of the 2 1/2 hours, jumps right in on the last shot and all sentimentality crumples into absurdity. Bravo!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 shorts, 2 weaks and 1 extra May 5, 2010
Format:DVD
Following on from the remarkable and shocking 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu uses here the format of the compendium movie to present other facets of life in the so-called "Golden Age" of Romania under the regime of Communist leader Ceausescu, where the reality for people on the ground was very different from the image being projected by Party officials. Tales from the Golden Age then presents five stories from the Ceausescu and immediate post-Ceausescu era, each of them standalone, all scripted by Mungiu but only one directed by him, each of them told in the form of "urban legends", since inevitably, if there was any truth to the stories at all, their failure to present the great Romanian Communist programme in any kind of a favourable light would certainly have seen their suppression from the press.

That makes the stories sound relentlessly grim, showing a oppressed populace living in fear of a corrupt and paranoid regime, but the approach in Tales from the Golden Age is in marked contrast to such bleak depictions in The Death Of Mr Lazarescu or indeed Mungui's own 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, presenting instead a more absurdly surreal view of living under a dictatorship intent on controlling every aspect of how people live and how their regime is represented in the more sedate and humorous style of 12:08 East Of Bucharest or California Dreamin'. Breaking this down into five separate short films of varying length, the impact achieved by the other longer and more serious depictions of life in Ceausescu's Romania is inevitably considerably diminished, but collectively they still present a fine sense of the issues faced by the Romanian people simply trying to live during this period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This film is really 6 short stories about some "urban myths" from communist Romania. The film focuses on what life was like for different people in different situations, during the Ceaucescu era.

Each film gives a snapshot with a kind of moral to what life was like. I have worked and lived in post communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany during the early 1990's and Russia 2009 onwards. I have also visited virtually every other country of the Eastern Bloc including Romania. As such I gained a unique insight into the reality of what life was like behind the Iron Curtain before it disappeared. My first lesson to this surreal world was what I saw in the border town of Cheb Czechoslovakia in 1990. It was as if we had stepped back in time to the 1930's. Buildings falling apart, few goods in the shops, no advertising boards and blocks of flats that were grey and falling to pieces. Nobody looked happy and everyone looked so depressed. We were accosted all the time to barter goods for our DM as the Czech currency had no value. This experience is very similar to the Myth about the Chicken Driver and Seller of Air myths showing that goods were more valuable than money.

My next real encounter was in Schwerin, Eastern Germany in 1992. We were students studying at the University of Luneburg and we took a tour across the border to the old East. Walking from the castle to the town square we noticed that the bottom half of the buildings had been painted and were beautifully preserved, the top half run down, plaster missing and had not been painted. We asked the Guide why this was the case?
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