But as they grew up, they showed their gratitude by overthrowing and executing him. By delving into the consequences of his obsessed policy in Children of the Decree, Iepan resolutely establishes why they turned against him and made his evil regime come to an end. Ceausescu forced the women of Romania to deliver an exceptional population growth, while Ceausescu at the same time carried out an irresponsible economical policy that impoverished his people, leaving them with no money to buy food and clothes for their many children. No wonder women cursed their little babies as soon as they were born.
Children of the Decree does more than recount history: it exposes us to the personal tragedies caused by the regime. Through an ingenious use of his rich archive material, Florin Iepan creates a raw, poignant document. The material mainly consists of propaganda films and TV shows produced during Ceausescu’s rule. And Iepan has put a great effort into tracking down the individuals who participated in those ‘documentaries’ and interviewing them. This effort and technique breathe life into the material making it more personal and linking history to the present.
One example is Citizen Number 20 million, who was announced at a great ceremony boasting about the population growth. He was focused on by the media during his childhood as a role model and in the film he talks about how this affected his life. Another example is a boy and his single mother who were exposed in a ‘special TV report’ made as a warning to unmarried women. The boy was taken from his mother and put in an orphanage. In Iepan’s film he is now an adult telling about the reporter’s manipulative tactics and the horrible consequences it had for him and his mother.
Another cruel side of the story is about the women who died from illegal abortions. Iepan interviewed a woman who performed back alley abortions, as well as nurses and doctors who delivered the unwanted babies or treated the women who developed complications from an illegal abortion. All the testimonies help to unveil the horrors of Ceausescu’s regime. It is hard to feel any sympathy for him in the final part as we watch his execution and see his dead body lying on the ground.
A voice-over delivers the factual information and a concise soundtrack with well-chosen music propels the story. Children of the Decree is a masterly piece of current history-telling that makes history come alive and become relevant through the persons who lived it.