Scholar Interviews

What is unique about viewing Ceausescu's last speech?


With the visual source you have the rawness of the crowd and of seeing the emotion of Ceausescu on his face and his body language and the noise, of course, I mean, the sound is really the most important part of this clip. It’s hearing the booing and the fact that it’s taking place. You’re witnessing it. The witnessing part is very important. It, I think, evokes very strong emotional reactions and a way of, you know, really empathizing with the people in the square.

There’s also the issue of how things are framed. We tend to identify with the camera and we tend not to think too much about how the image is framed and what’s left outside of that, you know, so this is the equivalent of reading between the lines and thinking about the background and context of a written source. Why is it that the camera is focusing on the crowd and particularly with the long shot and not individually on people? Why is that it’s looking away from people when they’re booing? And, you know, frankly, probably is a good idea because they might’ve ended up in jail, if you could see who was booing.

Why is it looking at Ceausescu in a particular way? Who is next to him? Maybe and we don’t see the balcony, you know, maybe there was somebody in there. Actually there was, but you can’t see that person. So it creates the sense, a false sense that you are witnessing reality that’s un-mitigated, unchanged by any kind of interpretation or any sort of kind of decision, choices made about what you’re not seeing. And that is, of course, the issue with photography and with film making in terms of documentaries always.

However, the angle of the camera is clearly above the crowd. You cannot really understand, visually what Ceausescu would’ve looked like from down below because in a sense people, you know, he was a teeny, tiny person on the balcony above. I mean, the people heard Ceausescu more than saw him. So people below in a way might’ve been emboldened to boo because he didn’t look kind of larger than life.

How to Cite

Maria Bucur, interview, "What is unique about viewing Ceausescu's last speech?" Making the History of 1989, Item #608, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:25 pm).