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‘Remembrance of the things past’: Emir Kusturica’s Underground
© Nevena Dakovic
First Publication: in Rings Guido Rikki Morgan (eds) European Cinema: Inside-Out. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag 2003
 
 
   
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Underground
Emir Kusturica, Yugoslavia/France/Germany/Bulgaria, 1995

Remembrance of the Things past΄ in Rings, Guido, Rikki Morgan (eds),  European Cinema: Inside-Out. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag, WINTER, 2003

‘Once upon a time’, on the eve of great success in Cannes in 1985, talented and  temperamental young director Emir Kusturica declared: ‘My next film will be Magpie’s Strategy or Remembrance of the things past΄ (1985: 4). [1] The project never came into being as such. However, this Proustian sounding announcement did accurately describe the structure of Underground (1995), another film made ten years later, not the second but  the fifth in his career. The resultant film is a play between stories of the past and a turbulent present, between theatre and an imaginary world rooted in Kusturica΄s own reality,  and  the result of a postmodern and post-communist urge to write ‘an alternative  history’. 

I propose to read this film as a rearticulation of national memory and as a rewriting of Yugoslav history. However, this metacinematic and self-referential film can also be regarded as a model text for the Yugoslav Cinema of the 1990s. Departing from post-modernist claims about the past as ideologically and discursively constructed I will be mainly concerned with the analysis of the densely intertwined national, historical and popular culture discourses reflected within the film which allow us to consider Underground as ‘historiographic metafiction’ (Linda Hutcheon 1996). Hutcheon΄s term refers to work which self consciously problematizes the making of fiction and history, which poses questions about whose ‘truth’ prevails, and which explores ways in which we can distinguish the past from the present. Such texts are equally involved in both representing history and researching the history of representation. They are intricately related approaches materialized in two basic textual layers: historiographic and metafictional. Underground represents a rich semantic field where it is impossible to draw clear divisions between, or to read separately, a history of culture, fictional forms and national history. 


I would like to argue that in Underground historiographical aspects are treated mainly through national historical discourse, and a focus is set on the transposition of events into facts and vice versa (‘reality’ into history and film, but also the other way round), situated within a newly framed ideological and philosophical context. The narrative claims exact references to half a century of Yugoslav history but refuses to verify our remembrance of past events as imposed by the official version of history. The elaborate style, a complex narrative structure and generic hybridity enrich the film with numerous interpretative options and different versions of the national past. Kusturica΄s distinctive style, saturated with homage, wide-ranging references, and socio-political debates with a social realist heritage, creates a self-referential, narcissistic discourse about film history, popular culture and the making of fiction. A pattern of multi-layered discourse is the textual demonstration of interaction between the formal concept of the text, the social concept of history and the ideological context. The resulting challenge may be summarized by Hutcheon΄s claim that: ‘The past is something which we must come to terms with and as such a confrontation involves an acknowledgment of limitation as well as power’ (1992: 239). 

Coming to terms with the past is achieved by challenging traditional versions of history and forms of representation. Kusturica΄s approach, a ‘de-naturalizing of the conventions of representing the past in narrative’ (Hutcheon, 1992: 240), establishes the model to be followed by numerous subsequent Yugoslav films. Underground is the ambivalent expression of a painful requiem for a ‘country that was once upon a time’, and of the increased awareness that the past should be blamed for the present, all of which is articulated via strong criticism of Communist regimes. Emotional and mental confusion is translated into a form of cinematic representation which should be described in terms of effects, limits and contradictions.

Underground is loosely based on the least popular stage play of well-known writer Dusan Kovacevic, Springtime in January/Prolece u Januaru (1977). It is the story of a man in love who imprisons his rival in a cellar for twenty years by making him believe that the war is still ongoing. Marko (Miki Manojlovic) and Blacky (Lazar Ristovski) are best friends and members of the Communist resistance but they are also both in love with the same woman, Natalija (Mirjana Jokovic). After one of their exploits, Marko hides Blacky in the cellar. However, even after the war has ended he keeps Blacky there, staging an imaginary conflict. In the meantime, he marries Natalija and becomes a successful politician dealing in arms manufactured by the underground community. However, Blacky breaks free and friends and rivals meet again in the 1990s to resolve their differences once and for all. In the film, which has been widely described as kind of visual pandemonium, a Felliniesque spectacle successfully mirrors the complicated image of national history and cinema with ‘the world above ground […] portrayed in the full colour of everyday reality’ and ‘the world below […] seen in the faded colours of manipulated lies’ (Kusturica 1995: 5).


National Historical Discourse: War as destiny or national crusade

Concern with recent history, devastating wars, ethnic cleansing and balkanization became the main thematic obsession of Yugoslav cinema at the end of the last century. From Underground to such films as Pretty Village Pretty Flame (Lepa sela, lepo gore, Srdjan Dragojevic 1996), Premeditated Murder (Ubistvo s predumisljajem, Gorcin Stojanovic 1996), Balkan Rules (Balkanska pravila, Darko Bajic 1997) and Country of Truth, Love and Freedom (Zemlja istine, ljubavi i slobode, Milutin Petrovic 2000), the writers and their narratives ventured into a rearticulation of the past which was aimed at providing new explanations for the turbulent present. Mapping out the recurring pattern of doomed Yugoslav history, they reach for myth while the journey through time and history shapes the spatial and temporal structure of their film stories. 

The success of Underground coincided with a turning point in the Yugoslav understanding of war, with the signing of the Dayton agreement. As such, Underground is a ‘borderline film’ that marks the transitional phase from a pre- to a post- Dayton era. From the pre-Dayton perspective, Serbia was not at war. The wars fought by Serbian diasporas in other republics were seen as justifiable crusades for their Yugoslav heritage, national dignity and self protection. An even stronger stance of total denial of the war characterized the post-Dayton period. As a consequence of the latter, official politics began to put a distance between and clearly separate Serbian Serbs from those Serbs who lived on the other side of the river Drina.  Instead of a war which had been fought for nationalist reasons, it was presented as a conflict orchestrated by metaphysical powers beyond human control. Most film-makers adhered to the concept of the war as an inevitable gloomy Balkan destiny. Blame and responsibility are thus placed on many shoulders, including on those of corrupt and evil politicians, on profiteers, and on a pre-ordained destiny. Refusing to pin guilt exclusively on other nations, the films act as texts of denial and doubt that point the finger of blame at a range of forces which lay beyond the logical comprehension of the main protagonists. According to the logic of predestination, the Balkan ‘powderkeg’ is expected to explode every fifty years or so in a new war that breaks out in accordance with unwritten rules. In Underground, Kusturica thereby manages to embrace a nationalist interpretation of the war as best understood by a local audience, as well as the concept of a doomed Balkan/Yugoslav fate which would be understood by an international audience. 

The idea of war as a Balkan phenomenon is already explicit in Dusan Kovacevic’s work, although his authorial contribution is generally disregarded. In his three film scripts, considered to be amongst the best of Yugoslav cinema, Marathon Family/Marathon Lap of Honor (Maratonci trce pocasni krug, Slobodan Sijan 1982), Who’s Singing Over There (Ko to tamo peva?, Sijan 1980) and Underground, Kovacevic provides a loose chronology of the events that signaled and led to the final disintegration of the second Yugoslavia: Marathon Family starts with the assassination of King Alexander in Marseilles in 1934; Who is Singing Over There ends with the ruins of Belgrade on April 6 1941, and that same event is the point of departure for Underground which follows subsequent developments until 1992. [2]

Who`s Singin` Over There? by Slobodan Sijan

The hellish vision of never-ending wars, disgust and despair overshadows the almost tangible sorrow for a once idyllic, now devastated, country. Underground constantly emphasizes that unfortunate heroes cannot escape entrapment in the vicious circle within which war merges past, present and future into an indistinguishable flow of time. Breaking out from the cellar, the protagonists break into the shooting of a film about their own past, and later become embroiled in the new war in the Balkans. The heroes have to constantly relive their past, seeing it brutally materialized in an endless string of wars.  As Ivan, (S. Stimac) Marko’s brother,  scrambles through the subterranean tunnels, he feels the blood on the walls and concludes that above him must be Serbia since the history of the country is presented and understood as a never-ending reenactment of one same ur-conflict. [3] 

For the spectator, history is presented as a brutal, manipulative struggle full of corrupt forces and passionate infatuation with personal power, reminiscent of the motif of the monster that eats its own children (revolution destroys those who made it/or rather they are destroyed by the struggle for the post revolutinoary power). The history of tyrants and their totalitarian regimes is represented by the linking musical motif of the famous Nazi song Lili Marleen. It accompanies the scenes of the 1941 German invasion of Yugoslavia and, afterwards, those of Tito’s funeral. A train carrying Tito’s dead body travels along the same route as the National Socialist armies in the conquest of Yugoslavia. Marko, the absolute ruler of the cellar, plays the song every morning to stage the atmosphere of an imaginary war. Lili Marleen provides the connection with real history since the song was broadcast for the first time from Radio Belgrade on April 11, 1941. Rainer Werner Fassbinder replays this event in his eponymous film Lili Marleen (1981), while Hark Bohm, who plays the song’s composer in Fassbinder’s oeuvre, also appears at the end of Underground as a doctor in the hospital.

Since Kusturica, born in war-torn Bosnia, left his besieged town and made his greatest film to date in Serbia with financial support from the Serbian Government, the film΄s national and ideological perspective have provoked much debate. [4] It was interpreted in various conflicting ways, with some critics reading the film as pro-Serbian and a symptom of Yugo-nostalgia while others, in particular Slovenian critics, regarded it as shameless manipulation of history. However, certainly none of these critical readings was able to demonstrate a direct transposition of ethnic into ethical issues since this has never been the intention or effect of the director’s work. [5] While the story΄s mythical concept does sanitize the nationalist explanation of the war to some extent, the centrality of the friends/rivals opposition clearly challenges interpretations of the film as a ‘Serbian ego trip’. Despite being best friends, which in Serbia is stronger than being blood brothers, our heroes turn against each other in immoral and evil ways just as civil war is generated by the split within one nation (Serbian) and not mainly between nations (of ex Yugoslavia). They bitterly acknowledge that ‘there is no war till brother turns against brother’ [6] but the audience can all too easily overlook the fact that both characters are Serbs [7]. Through names (‘Popara’ – the name of a peasant dish, and ‘Dren’ – an extremely hard and durable kind of wood), nick names (‘Blacky’ as the mysterious, dangerous conspirator, and comrade ‘Marko’ as political opportunist, pillar of the Communist Party), make-up (Popara with a stiff Balkan moustache and Marko with Hollywood fancy ones) and characterization (note the populist rural guerilla leader and the urban carrier politician), the director is clearly signaling that one is a Serbian Serb while the other is a Serb from outside Serbia. [8] In the Serbian historical context of the 1940s within which the narrative unfolds, these characters are the personifications of opposing revolutionary factions; in the 1990s they turn the film into a treatise on post-Dayton political instrumentalisation.

Many of the specific national signifiers are lost on a foreign audience. However, Tony Rayns brilliantly pinpoints the film’s underlying oxymoron as ‘nostalgia for a national identity which is simultaneously exposed as skillfully manipulated illusion’ (1996: 53). [9] National identity in this case could equally refer to a Yugoslav (during the second Yugoslavia) or a Serbian (post Yugoslav time) heritage.

An impressive ending unites all such interpretations in a moment of total nihilism. Much like Wajda΄s burning, inverted crucifixion in Ashes and Diamonds/Popiol i diament (1958), the director offers an image of Fitzgeraldian despair: all hope is gone, all faith and belief lost. Blacky cries out: ‘Marko my brother, Natalija my love’. The connection between private emotional loss and collective devastation is sealed by a historical epic narrative which is creatively undermined by drawing on a variety of genres.


History as Genre

Throughout his work Kusturica chronicles the turbulent moments of post-war Yugoslavia. Similar to Fassbinder΄s treatment of postwar Germany, or Sirk’s representation of Eisenhower’s America, emerging crises are seen through the prism of the family melodrama. Family problems structurally and metaphorically reflect the political turmoil in the country. Images of Stalinist trials (When Father Was Away on Business/Otac na sluzbenom putu, Kusturica 1985); the rise of popular culture and explosions of nationalist fervour in the 1970s (Do You remember Dolly Bell?/Secas li se Doli Bel?, Kusturica 1981); and the death of Tito (alluded to in Time of the Gypsies/Dom za vesanje, Kusturica 1989) reveal the director΄s fascination with key historical moments which until then had been excluded by the cultural dominance of the social realist approach. The deeply buried darker side of history emerges here in the  explicitly depicted context and implicitly inscribed within entangled power struggles between family members divided along lines of generation, gender, class, and religion. Kusturica’s baroque, passionate and emotionally-charged style is by nature excessive. In the best melodramatic fashion, his exaggerated visual and musical style signifies the tentative and inexpressible  return of the repressed, as well as a sense of social hysteria and moral cynicism (Gledhill 1987: 5-43). The unseen and inexpressible elements allude to absences in traditional representations of the past (interpretations of the revolution, images of the second Yugoslavia) and to a break with the dominant trend of social realism. [10] Moreover, the film offers a depiction of the exuberant temperament which has become the national stereotype, and which Kusturica describes as follows:  ‘I was born in a country where hope, laughter and joy of loving are stronger than anywhere else’ (1995: 5).

Collective history portrayed via male friendships, family ties, love and brotherhood offer insights into social and political change and are provided in the form of a generic hybrid of melodrama, buddy movie and revolutionary burlesque modeled on the Alan Ford comic. [11] The characters are shown to be motivated in such a way as to undermine the principles of the socialist revolution, its nobility and dignity. Heroes and history are guided by a desire for personal profit and a good time, typical of the film noir genre. The phrase ‘I did it for money and a woman’ (Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder 1943) could as well be attributed to Marko as to Wilder’s hero. The momentous night of war when all the men chase after Natalija, confirms the convergence of love and war as parallel manifestations of masculine libido. Characteristics of film noir are also evident in the lust, love and greed shown by the heroes as well as in the  instability and devotion of the female characters. In the Serbian language, ‘Country’, ‘history’ and ‘revolution’ are nouns of the feminine gender which suggest the inherent notion of female betrayal within the Communist revolution and the socialist system.
 
Spatial and Temporal Metaphor

The very title Underground can be interpreted as a spatial and temporal metaphor. The film’s double ‘mise-en-scène’ visually and structurally supports the overall binary framework. Thus the cellar which imprisons the multiethnic character group, becomes a symbol of the nation’s past: an agonizing incarceration within a communist regime and a microcosm-of multiethnic ex-Yugoslavia. In one scene, the spectator notices priests and churches of three key denominations, Orthodox, Catholic and Islamic, and is reminded of the famous short story by the Nobel prize winner and Kusturica΄s favorite writer Ivo Andric. In Pismo iz 1924 Andric explores the theme of time, and the hours in Sarajevo when the bells or clocks (or silence) of four churches are heard marking the continuation of different civilizations and the metaphysical passing of time for the inhabitants. Underground also alludes to illegal Communist movements (note the illicit meetings) which reinforces the idea of the revolutionaries being portrayed as gangsters of the underworld. [12] However, the references could equally be considered as mythical or epic since Underground presents, similarly to Gilgamesh, Ulysses, Eneida and the Divine Comedy, a world of the dead that the hero must visit to perform an extraordinary deed. In this sense, Natalija who belongs to one man above ground and to the other underground could be regarded as a contemporary Persephone.

The treatment of time is dual: realistically linear on the one hand, and mythically circular on the other. Until the collapse of the underground network, the heroes do not change visibly, as if they are residing in a timeless space [13] which endangers and destroys the traditional idea of the passing of time. The story is structured in three parts which each have war as the key word in the title: war (1941-1945); cold war (1946-1960); war (1980- 1995). All of these culminate with a wedding (a missed wedding in the war, a disastrous wedding in the cellar, and a heavenly, surrealist wedding at the end) and contain a rhythmical repetition of dramatic life events such as death, childbirth, marriage and triumph. The linear progression of fictional ‘weddings and funerals’ is intercut with the insertion of authentic historical events: Tito’s death provides an unmistakable focus, and Marko Dren appears as Tito’s closest associate. The end marks the return to the beginning, to the lost paradise. The island represents the preservation of idyllic moments of life: Jovan’s mother (Mirjana Karanovic) is pregnant, and grown-up Jovan (Srdjan Todorovic) is sitting beside her, sealing the mythical cycle of time.  

A narrative presenting time in this multi-layered form revives the past as a ‘Golden Age’ to which we would like to return, but also treats it with irony. This and other similar narratives maintain the visibility of a constant ironic dialogue between past and present: three acts in Underground, four narrative strands in Pretty Village, the prolaptic construction of Balkan Rule, eight flashbacks in Premeditated Murder and the multi-metacinematic framing of The Land of Truth. Rereading history through another history/fiction reveals its cracks and gaps; it results in the loss of rose-tinted nostalgia and disrupts the unity and coherence of official versions of history.

Balkan Rules by Darko Bajic

Popular Culture 

A discourse of popular culture is identified in the array of diverse stereotypes drawn from film history, folklore, popular and high culture. The chaos inherent in a Balkan rethinking of post-Communist politics is embodied in a distinctively post-modern pastiche of styles, genres, quotations and allusions. [14]

The narrative conforms to the structures of myth [15] and  to the structure and form of the fairy tale. In line with Propp΄s and Bettelheim΄s analyses, the spectator of Underground encounters unusual variations of, for example, the duel to win the princess or the kingdom, impossible tasks, hidden treasures, the hero΄s journey to maturity and the gaining of self-awareness or resolution of existential and ethical dilemmas. [16] The ‘coming-of-age’ story functions on both an individual and a collective level since country, nation and heroes are simultaneously reaching maturity before falling into decay. Nostalgia is another typical element of the fairy-tale that is linked to the desire to remember such perfect moments as the achievement of happiness and reaching paradise. Everyone possesses nostalgic memories of childhood, but eventually everyone has to grow up and face the kind of embittered reality portrayed in this film. From the traditional opening line (‘Once upon a time…’) to the open-ended conclusion, the film is like a continuous flow of history that has to be bounded and controlled in order to reveal its deeper sense. Instead of the final peace and hope for the future offered by the traditional ending ‘and they happily lived ever after…’, the spectator is confronted here with the alternative conclusion that ‘We will remember our country with happiness, nostalgia, sorrow, longing…’.

The film΄s language, linguistic and visual, derives from popular heritage but also from the director’s own recognizable and established vocabulary. Clear reference is made to a host of influential films as we recognize, for example, scenes reminiscent of Vigo of floating figures and veils, animal and plant leitmotivs (note the fish, goose, horse, bright red apples). The presence of favorite actors (Stimac and Manojlovic) creates further intertextual links. The central child’s ‘pov’ drawn from Dolly Bell or Father is substituted by Ivan΄s and the monkey΄s perspectives [17] that, together with the otherwise infantile and oneiric mood, add a sharp critical edge. Brass band music ensures the development of emotional tension in the spirit of Bakthin’s (1978) ‘carnival night’. The dense weaving of emotionally charged images could be read psychoanalytically as the fantastical, dream-like reshaping of primary historical material in the Freudian (1965) sense of condensation, displacement and symbolization (i.e. conditions of representability). The audience will also find allusions to the Bible (the cellar as Noah΄s ark of salvation), painting (Gericault΄s or Breugel΄s compositions in the island wedding banquet sequences), comics and literature. The allusive spectrum encompasses the description of films such as Alice in Wonderland written by Franz Kafka or The Trial rewritten by Lewis Carroll (PM 1995: 17) or Schindler΄s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) written by Monty Python. The gloomy, tragic, serious narrative is juxtaposed with hilarious, ironic, absurd narration, style and visual representation. This contrast produces the kind of ‘montage of attractions’ which shocks and provokes audience response.


The tone of dark comedy or tragicomedy treats war as carnival; history appears as ‘Welttheater’, ‘theater mundi’, a puppet show spectacle with Marko as the prototype master and others as puppets on a string, while the grand puppet master remains unseen. Scenes which verge on a Rabalesque grotesque evoke the anti-war comedy legacy of M*A*S*H* (Robert Altman 1970), Catch-22 (Mike Nichols 1970), To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch 1942, Alan Johnson 1973), and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick 1964). The light-hearted romance and heroic adventures further support the idea of war as gay and festive madness. Escaping from the hospital Marko declares: ‘We are all crazy but we have not been diagnosed yet’.
The culminating moment of the metacinematic approach is self referential, a parodic segment of ‘film within a film’.[18]Events of the momentous night from the first part of the film are transformed into a constructed narrative after the inserted sequence of the film Spring Comes on a White Horse. At the end, the characters break out from the cellar and emerge into the shooting of a movie[19] based upon Marko’s memoirs. The second film reviews Yugoslav film history as an eclectic array of polished revolutionary spectacles determined for thirty years by the dominance of socialist realism. The spectacular battle scenes, daring rescues, adventures and unabashed heroism (one partisan killing at least a tenth of the Germans) rehearse popular clichés of partisan epics. One famous director of the genre – Veljko Bulajic – even ‘recognised’ himself in the role of the film director played by Dragan Nikolic and threatened to sue Kusturica and his collaborators.

Never-ending Story

With indulgently intoxicating exuberance Kusturica demonstrates the shallowness and falsity of Communist-constructed representations of the past.  He offers his film as a revelation, dedicated to his own and his father’s generation, in particular to all those who have found themselves spiritually imprisoned like the characters in the cellar. By rewriting popular memory a multiple perspective is inevitable, and this includes the use of parody, silent comedy logic and a style ranging from pulp fiction, through comic books, to myth and surrealism. The pastiche flavor of Underground with its generic hybridization and referentiality reveals the dark side of history, parodying and ironising ‘History with a capital H [is] fabricated by historians’ (Andrew 1995: 294). Through a de-naturalized and de-mythologized fictionalization of this history, Underground neatly fits into the category of historiographic metafiction. The whole text is a struggle for meaning as the past reaches for its ΄true΄ significance. Another, more personal reading is suggested by Kusturica΄s appearance in the cameo role of a drug addicted arms dealer. [As Marko΄s small-scale prototype he makes us see film as Antonioni΄s work of art made with the guts and not with the brain or the heart. Underground is his personal diary and his cathartic attempt to overcome the loss of his country. It is a film made out of anguish, nostalgia, rage, frustrating helplessness – raw sensations and emotions, only slightly tempered and rearticulated through rational thought processes.
The process of demystification formally destroys the official Communist discourse but strengthens the myth of the doomed Balkan and Serbian nations. Kusturica questions every myth and the very existence of truth, taking everything to the point of annihilation and overwhelming skepticism. The only certainty is film΄s (art΄s) ability to draw our memories out and to heal us. Michnik΄s need for amnesty and not amnesia (as articulated in the round table discussion organized in Belgrade in 1997) or the idea that one cannot forgive if one forgets are rephrased in the film by Ivan’s remark that ‘We will forgive but never forget’.
Through hilarious, grotesque, ironic treatment of this sensitive history Kusturica makes us laugh and the laughter comes as an epitaph to these emotions. It replaces rage, bitterness, desire for revenge and leads us to some sort of reluctant and bitter-sweet forgiveness that is the condition sine qua non for moving forward. Acknowledging the healing power of laughter the motto of the film could therefore be: ‘They laugh at themselves, they laugh at us, when they come together, they laugh at each other’ (Kusturica 1995: 5).

Notes

[1] Magpie Strategy/Strategija svrake became Zlatko Lavanic΄s 1987 film with Kusturica as co-writer of the screenplay.
[2] The design of Kovacevic’s scripts as contemporary chronicles is stressed by the inclusion of authentic news footage of the funerals of King Alexander and Tito. One of the first statements in Marathon Family gloomily anticipates an important message of the films of the nineties: ‘In Serbia, death is the job that pays’.
[3] In this sense, Underground and much more explicitly Pretty Village, Pretty Flame argue that the wars of the 1990s are a reenactment and prolongation of archaic tensions from the former Yugoslavia.  In particular the latter film stresses that the core conflicts of World War II were never really resolved, only suppressed and concealed by ‘political witchcraft’ (meaning the imposed ideals of Brotherhood and Unity, Socialism and Self Management). The falsely healed wounds burst open again resulting in the war unmasking Tito’s time as an epoch of frustrating ideology.
[4] An extensive recapitulation of the polemics is given in Dina Iordanova΄s book Cinema of Flames, pp.111-136.
[5] References to other nations which have been read as denigrating are more evident in the TV series than in the film.
[6] The real sibling relationship is one of pure exploitation ending in separation, severe disappointment and suicide. Ivan hangs himself after the loss of his country and the discovery that his brother is a war criminal.
[7] Even Stojan Cerovic labels them as Serb and Montenegrin (ccf. Iordanova  2001: 116).
[8] Pretty Village Pretty Flame, the situation on the surface seems more complex as the brother-like figures are Serb and Muslim, evidently not ΄real΄ brothers as regards national identity. Their ΄brotherhood΄ stems from friendship, childhood, memories that are endangered and destroyed by a ghostly war as destiny in the shape of the ogre from the tunnel. Furthermore, the narrative skillfully introduces stronger differences that divide members of the same nation (in the post-Dayton spirit), effacing the differences between Serbs and Muslims.
[9] Kusturica is elusive with regard to strictly national associations but allows the widest span of meanings. The two Serbs, one German actor (Franz/Ernst Stotzner) and one Russian actress, representatives of the nations involved in World War II in the Balkans, are connected through war and romance.

 
 
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  Do you remember Dolly Bell ?
  When Father Was Away on Business
  Time of the Gypsies
  Underground
  Pretty Village, Pretty Flame
  Balkan Rules
  Who`s Singin` Over There?
  Land of Truth, Love & Freedom
  The Marathon Family
 
  Srdjan Dragojevic
  Srdjan Todorovic
  Slavko Stimac
  Lazar Ristovski
  Dragan Nikolic (I)
  Predrag Miki Manojlovic
  Mirjana Karanovic
  Mirjana Jokovic
  Emir Kusturica
  Dusan Kovacevic
  Hark Bohm
  Darko Bajic
  Slobodan Sijan
  Veljko Bulajic
  Milutin Petrovic
 
  Leica Cine Discovery Prize for short film - Semaine de la critique 2018
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       
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