This film about the Romanian end of days under the Ceausescu regime is deliciously ironic – from the title (“the golden age”) through the episodic nature of the six tales. The tales, or urban legends, all take place on the day of an “official” visit. Most of the tales skewer the absurdity of communist regimes to trying to put their game face on for the outside world.
The first episode (“The Legend of the Official Visit”) is the tale of an official visit by Ceausescu and his guest French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. The preparations that the town has to go through are devastatingly humorous. “The Legend of the Party Photographer” focuses on the production of the party newspaper. A photograph of the Romanian General Secretary and the French President first has to have a photographer edited out and Ceausescu made a little taller. Not tall enough, so back to the drawing boards. Still not right: d’Estaing is shown with a hat on his head and Ceausescu is hatless. That just won’t do. Communism with hat in hand with a Capitalist? A hat is put on Ceausescu’s head and the paper is finally published. Problem is that they forgot to remove the hat in hand, so Ceausescu is show with two hats.
The four other “legends” hit on other aspects of life under a ‘cult of personality’ communist ruler: black market scams, theft, the perils of “official” initiatives, like literacy. Political satire at its most biting.