Uppercase Print review – a fierce denunciation of Ceaușescu's Romania

Radu Jude dramatises the case of a disenchanted teenager turned in to the secret police in 1980s Romania in this chilling work of filmed theatreThe anger and despair in this Romanian filmed theatre work are kept in check by its ice-cold manner: it is spoken throughout in the kind of deadened official style that Ceaușescu-era apparatchiks might have used for reports on wrongdoers and dissidents, and the style that these same people might have used to defend themselves, and convince their political masters that they had internalised the right kind of torpid, soulless submission.Director Radu Jude (who made the much-admired I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians) has adapted a verbatim-theatre stage play by Gianina Cărbunariu, working with the writer herself; it chillingly dramatises an actual 1981 Securitate case file concerning a high school student called Mugur Călinescu. This teenager was discovered to be chalking protest slogans on walls (in scandalously large “uppercase print” letters) calling for an end to poverty and for free trade unions of the sort permitted by Romania’s ally Poland. To discover and punish the author of these innocuous sentiments, hundreds of informants were mobilised, phones bugged, schoolchildren bullied into turning snitch – all with coldly fanatical pettiness. Continue reading...

Uppercase Print review – a fierce denunciation of Ceaușescu's Romania

Radu Jude dramatises the case of a disenchanted teenager turned in to the secret police in 1980s Romania in this chilling work of filmed theatre

The anger and despair in this Romanian filmed theatre work are kept in check by its ice-cold manner: it is spoken throughout in the kind of deadened official style that Ceaușescu-era apparatchiks might have used for reports on wrongdoers and dissidents, and the style that these same people might have used to defend themselves, and convince their political masters that they had internalised the right kind of torpid, soulless submission.

Director Radu Jude (who made the much-admired I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians) has adapted a verbatim-theatre stage play by Gianina Cărbunariu, working with the writer herself; it chillingly dramatises an actual 1981 Securitate case file concerning a high school student called Mugur Călinescu. This teenager was discovered to be chalking protest slogans on walls (in scandalously large “uppercase print” letters) calling for an end to poverty and for free trade unions of the sort permitted by Romania’s ally Poland. To discover and punish the author of these innocuous sentiments, hundreds of informants were mobilised, phones bugged, schoolchildren bullied into turning snitch – all with coldly fanatical pettiness.

Continue reading...