Tales From the Golden Age
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting (the first two being very funny) short stories with subtitles for us english only speaking folks. I especially enjoyed the first 2 movies. Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by ahiker4u
First two stories are totally uninteresting, but the others have some funny moments. Of course, one should keep in mind that these are urban legends, some of the things portrayed... Read morePublished on January 31, 2011 by Tudval
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