Tales from the Golden Age (Amintiri din Epoca de Aur)
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This compendium of short films, written by Romanian New Wave filmmaker Cristian Mungiu and directed by him and four others, is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek examination of several urban myths from Romania’s late Communist era – known as ‘the Golden Age’ in contemporary state propaganda – involving a variety of unfortunate comrades whose scheming and trickery gets them into very hot water.
Each film is amusing in its own way – whether the story involves the rather ludicrous gathering of purportedly chemically contaminated air in citizens’ apartments, a fairground carousel ride that quite hilariously never ends, or a madcap race against time to ensure that a photograph of Comrade General Secretary Nicolae Ceaușescu is ideologically correct (and that he doesn’t look too short).
Despite the comic tone, however, what is evident throughout ‘Tales from the Golden Age’ is the unreasonable pressure exerted on the Romanian population by its ruling party and the atmosphere of fear this engendered during the Communist period. Perhaps most moving of all is the fact that, under this extreme form of socialist control, conscience seems to have faded to nothing, as citizens are forced to risk everything and prey upon one another simply to get by.