The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Piepturi Goale si Buzunare Pline (Cornel Mihalache)

(purely personal views as always, based on over two decades of prior research and publications)

I finally got around to watching Cornel Mihalache’s documentary “Piepturi Goale si Buzunare Pline.”  The following youtube link had over 170,000 views, 770 likes and 246 comments when I last visited.  The creme of the Romanian intelligentsia have heartily praised the film (see, for example, ,  and ). Here it is:

I had previously seen some of Mihalache’s other documentaries about December 1989, so I had some idea of what to expect.  Choice passages exist at approximately 18:40 and again at 20:00.  At 18:40, Mihalache informs us that, although “shrewd and cunning,” in December 1989, the Securitate “took a step back” and left “the Army to alone [emphasis added] participate in the repression” in Timisoara, Cluj, and Bucharest.  If this stunner weren’t enough already, at 20:00 he returns and doubles down in telling us that the Army was “the instrument of repression and author of the crimes” in those three cities, although now he throws in Sibiu as well.

Mihalache’s Whoppers

Keep in mind here, he is talking about the period between 16 and 22 December 1989.  His claim that the Army was singlehandedly responsible for the repression and bloodshed of those days is not just a lie, it is an easily demonstrable lie, and one that hints at the fact that Mihalache seems to have done no research other than finding evocative clips from the archives of Romanian Television.  Here are just a few links which demonstrate clearly that he is horribly wrong in this contention.

I don’t know how to explain Mihalache’s tremendous mistake here.  Is it just the superficiality, opinionated nature, and unwillingness to take the time to vet claims that is so characteristic of the Romanian intelligentsia at home and abroad that explains it?  It is at the very least that rare combination of arrogance and ignorance that seems impervious to criticism for its lack of rigor?

Mihalache’s documentary is filled with head-nodding and winking innuendo, which displays the exact sort of manipulation which he claims he is deconstructing (see the map at approx. 12:22, where he inserts arrows from the USSR to suggest setting the groundwork for a Soviet invasion…which nevertheless never happened; at 21:30 showing scenes of demonstrators surrounding TVR on the 22nd and then showing TVR later on talking about “small groups” surrounding TVR and threatening the building during the fighting (a clear out-of-context juxtaposition); his deconstruction of mobilizing rhetoric at various points in the film (without any context of what was occuring outside at the time); or his circling of the banderola on Gelu Voican Voiculescu’s arm at 28:30…).  There is so much that is wrong, untruthful, and ripped out of context about this film that I won’t take the time to break it down completely.  Below a few of the more egregious scenes, and research which refutes Mihalache’s claims.

5:24 Bombs at TVR

8:42 and 23:34-24:07 Poisoned water supplies

for an in-depth look at the role of TVR, I suggest the following:

For other issues raised and dealt with completely out of context:

4:34 IML

14:11 to 14:29 and throughout the Front’s appeal for Soviet help

As for the “terrorists” whom Mihalache claims did not exist, there is too much to say.  I would only say:  start here and work your way backwards through the series 25 for the 25th,

Perhaps the one, “new” and valuable contribution of this film is the clip at roughly 27:45 where citizens discuss the first post-Ceausescu edition of the party daily and the proper future of the party and communists.


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