Power-Grabbing Chaos


Czech-German doc pope Harun Farocki, working with Andrei Ujica, assembles video footage shot by scores of sources during the week of riots that culminated in the Ceausescu overthrow of 1989, and what results is not only an hour-by-hour history of the revolution but also an exploration of how it was conceived and seen as a televised event. We get all of the broadcast glitches, unedited feeds, power-grabbing chaos, and epochal please-stand-by ellipses; as civilians literally defend the TV station with combat rifles, unidentified counter-revolutionary snipers hole up in massive and empty high-rise buildings the dictator had built and then abandoned. The sense of exhilarating liberation and history made as we watch is consistently leavened by the weird distance, between citizens and their own revolt, occupied by TV cameras and monitors. By the end of the week, and the Ceausescus’ executions, nothing is real—or historical—until it is seen on television. With occasional English analysis-narration and no extras.