Ceausescu's Spectacular Show (02:46)
The regime of Nicolae Ceauscescu, the last Communist dictator of Romania, was celebrated in spectacular theatrical shows with every citizen playing a part.
International Statesman (03:20)
In August 1968 a mass demonstration transforms Ceausescu's political power into an international statesman when he opposes a Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Grandiose Nationalism (02:19)
Ceausescu portrays Russia's militarism as a new chapter in Romanian independence. He organizes grandiose displays of nationalism. Intellectuals support him and create a personality cult for him.
Romanian Modernization and the Arts (06:01)
Ceausescu modernizes and industrializes his country. Peasants move into apartment buildings. Artists paint his portrait. New theater combines performing arts and political demonstration.
Communist Party and People Are One (02:49)
Historical theatrical themes provide a metaphor for struggle. Since everyone plays a part, Ceausescu and the central committee are the only spectators. Everyone applauds him at the end.
New Symbolism in Politics and Media (02:49)
When Ceausescu becomes president of Romania in 1974, the new symbolism seen in the stadiums spreads into the politics and the media.
Journalism and the Secret Police (04:38)
Journalists are reluctantly complicit in Ceausescu's propaganda schemes, and the secret police ensure there are no misprints in the newspapers or mistakes in reporting.
Wife Elena Ceausescu (03:33)
Elena Ceausescu is given a special role. Poets write grandiose poetry showing her as an intelligent woman. Children recite poetry about her legendary status as a scientist.
Relations With Great Britain (03:53)
In 1978 British government uses all their pomp and pageantry to persuade Ceausescu is buy airplanes from them. The trade agreements are not successful because Romania is too poor.
Rewriting Reality (03:52)
By the early 1980s, Romania's economy was failing, but Ceausescu covers this up. New factories are already outdated. Energy is expensive, and there are food shortages.
Bigger Performances (03:21)
In the 1980s Ceausescu's propaganda shows became bigger. For some people they are a source of comfort although people are required to participate or lose their jobs.
Paying Off the International Debt (03:42)
Ceausescu pledges the entire produce of Romania's farms to pay off its international debt. For the first time, an actor plays Ceausescu on stage.
Capital Center in Bucharest (05:57)
Ceausescu builds a new capital center in Bucharest, the largest in the world, destroying many historic buildings and homes. People are moved to two-room flats with no toilets.
Romanian Quality of Life Worsens (03:18)
Romanians now live for much of the time without running water, heating, or electricity. Eventually the reality catches up with the theater, and the people stop applauding.
Death of a Dictator (05:55)
In December 1989, Ceausescu holds a mass meeting outside the central committee building. Rioting ensues, and Ceausescu and his wife are charged with corruption and executed.
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