Somebody said yesterday that the enemies and victims of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship felt doubly infuriated by the fact that he lived to the ripe old age of 90. Some would have preferred, I’m supposing, a harsher fate. Like the one that enveloped Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu, the notorious Communist despot who was overthrown and machine-gunned to death (along with his despised wife, Elena) 27 years ago.
Ceausescu’s end happened on Christmas day, and began to be reported on 12.26. I was married then. We were all visiting Maggie’s family in Capitola, right near Santa Cruz. Dylan was a month old; Jett was a year and a half.
So after thinking about Castro yesterday I began to re-read summaries of the Romanian revolution, but I mainly focused on videos. [After the jump.] Footage of the execution of the Ceausescus actually missed most of what happened; the shooting began before the camera crew was ready. So I was surprised yesterday to come upon these two photos, which apparently are genuine. The clouds of plaster dust and the flying hat seem especially convincing. It looks like a clip from the final shoot-out in Sam Peckinpah‘s The Wild Bunch. An excellent job by whomever if the photos are fakes. They may have been on the web for ages but I never saw them until yesterday.
My first thought was that strictly from an aesthetic perspective these are the kind of brutal images that war photographers live for. Robert Capa would’ve given his eye teeth to catch something like this during the Spanish Civil War.
I feel closer to Romania now than I did in ’89, largely due to my affection for 21st Century Romanian cinema and particularly the films of Cristian Mungiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Cristi Puiu and Radu Muntean. I’ve never been to Romania; I’ve always wanted to see Bucharest. The closest I’ve been was during my brief visit to Belgrade last June. On my way back to the airport a Belgrade cab driver told me that Romania is still a relatively poor country, certainly compared to Serbia and especially compared to the Czech Republic.