The Great Communist Bank Robbery
(Marele jaf comunist)
Described by director Alexandru Solomon as a “political detective story,” this sardonic and elegantly constructed documentary investigates both a historical mystery—the theft of 1.6 million lei from the Romanian national bank in 1959—and the transformation of history into film. The unprecedented robbery led to a far-reaching and brutal inquiry; six people were arrested for the crime, all Communist Party members and all Jewish. Hoping for clemency, they agreed to reenact the robbery for a widely screened film called Reconstruction, a gangster movie for a Stalinist state where gangster movies were banned. After a show trial, also performed for the cameras, all but one of the robbers were shot. Delving into the archives, interviewing those who remember the events, and considering the motives behind both the crime and its reenactment, Solomon deconstructs the reconstruction in a revealing meta-movie.