Un Certain Regard: “Tales from the Golden Age”

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's tales of Ceausescu's decline

Tales from the Golden Age, screening in Un Certain Regard, is a five-part film made by five Romanian directors, one of whom is Cristian Mungiu, winner of the Palme d’Or in 2007 for the universally acclaimed 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. The “Golden Age” in these five wry tales is the final fifteen years Ceausescu regime. Get ready for some irony…

“The final 15 years of the Ceausescu regime were the worst in Romania’s history,” Cristian Mungiu says. “Nonetheless, the propaganda machine of that time referred without fail to that period as ‘The Golden Age.’ Our film paints the portrait of a nation struggling to survive from day to day, bargaining with the implacable logic of a dictatorship. In passing, it shows the humorous aspect of a political system which takes itself too seriously.”

Savory vignettes in the Tales include the dictator’s official visits to rural villages; the importance of one man’s hat; a delivery man dispossessed of his truck; a pig who has to be gassed; and the underground trade in bottles filled with air.

Cristian Mungiu recalls how the project got started: “After a screening of 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, a spectator told me he had the feeling we are more and more making films for the festivals and less and less for the audience. He asked me if we can do anything to change this. I decided to open up the rest of the project Tales from the Golden Age to different Romanian directors, enlisting filmmakers old enough to remember the period. I chose the stories, wrote the screenplays, got involved in the casting and editing, ensuring that finally there is just one film, but that each director was free to use his own cinematic language.” The members of the collective are Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Constantin Popescu, and Ioana Uricaru.