Nicolae Ceausescu The Unrepentant Tyrant

The Romanian dictator is remembered by those who served him and those who suffered at his hand.

For 24 years, he ruled his country with an iron hand. But the waves of freedom that swept Europe in 1989 cost him his life.
Nicolae Ceausescu will be remembered as much for his sudden death as his long tenure as dictator of Rumania. Through extensive archival footage and interviews with those who served him, BIOGRAPHY® chronicles the rise and fall of the man who was utterly consumed with a desire to be the best. See how, together with his wife, he fashioned an image of perfection for himself–and how he eliminated any who dared challenge it. Former communist activists share their memories of the young man who would become a despot, while Richard Nixon (in an interview conducted shortly before his death) talks about his dealings with the inflexible leader. And relive the events that finally toppled his regime and turned the people against him.
From his childhood in rural Rumania to his execution by firing squad, this is the story of one of the most infamous tyrants of the 20th century.

There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

On the afternoon of July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway in New York for nearly two miles, eventually smashing into an oncoming SUV and killing herself, her daughter, three nieces, and all three people in the other car. Only her five-year-old son survived. Diane’s autopsy revealed that she had consumed the equivalent of 10 shots of vodka, and had smoked marijuana, shortly before the accident. Yet by all accounts, Diane had no history of substance abuse or psychological problems, and was generally known to be a loving and stable wife and mother.
In There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, award-winning director Liz Garbus (see below) explores the facts and speculation surrounding this tragic accident. The film follows Diane’s husband and sister-in-law, who believe that Diane may have had a medical emergency that precipitated the crash, and who hire a lawyer and PI to investigate that angle. Piecing together a minute-by minute retelling of the fateful day, along with interviews with Diane’s family and friends, victims’ families, eyewitnesses, investigators, and medical and psychiatric experts, this feature-length film reveals a complex and complicated case that has left all those involved still wondering what really happened to Aunt Diane.

North Korean Motorcycle Diaries

For the past decade, New Zealanders Joanne and Gareth Morgan have been living the semiretired lifestyle of their dreams, traveling around the world on motorcycles alongside a few of their closest friends. They’ve traversed all seven continents on their bikes, with routes as varied as Venice to Beijing, Florida to northern Alaska, and South Africa to London, just to name a few. Gareth funds his own trips, many of which he uses to pursue philanthropic endeavors, particularly in the social-investment space. He is able to do so with money he’s made as an economist and investment manager—one who has earned the reputation for criticizing unethical practices in New Zealand’s financial-services industry.

In late August, the Morgans embarked on their most ambitious journey yet, at least physically. The real journey began years ago, when they decided they wanted to ride the Baekdudaegan, a mountain range that stretches the length of North and South Korea’s shared peninsula. After countless hours of negotiation and coordination with both governments, they were granted permission. It was, the Morgans believe, the first time anyone’s ever traveled through both countries like that since the partitioning of Korea in 1945. By making the trip they hoped to demonstrate how Koreans can come together over what they have in common. To symbolize this, the Morgans took some stones from Paektu, a holy mountain in the North, and brought them to Hallasan, a similarly sacred peak in the South.

Joanne and Gareth shot the entirety of their trip, the footage from which they have graciously allowed us to cut into a short film that will premiere on VICE.com this month. In some ways, the footage makes the Korean coast look alternately like California, China, and Cuba. It’s a beautiful view few foreigners have seen, and even if planning the road trip straight through the Demilitarized Zone required working within parameters set by the highly choreographed and restricted confines of North-South Korean diplomacy, this was a journey worth documenting from start to finish.

Lord of the Rings: Facts behind the Fiction

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s 1937 children’s fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II.[1] It is the second best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.[2]

The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron,[note 1] who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a Hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across north-west Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, notably the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, but also the hobbits’ chief allies and travelling companions: Aragorn, a Human Ranger; Boromir, a man from Gondor; Gimli, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard.

The work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume of a two-volume set, with the other being The Silmarillion, but this idea was dismissed by his publisher.[4][5] It was decided for economic reasons to publish The Lord of the Rings as three volumes over the course of a year from 29 July 1954 to 20 October 1955, thus creating the now familiar Lord of the Rings trilogy.[4][6] The three volumes were entitled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Structurally, the novel is divided internally into six books, two per volume, with several appendices of background material included at the end of the third volume. The Lord of the Rings has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages.