- 1h 50min
A troubled young boy is sent to a juvenile detention center where he meets a teacher who has an unusual pedagogical approach.A troubled young boy is sent to a juvenile detention center where he meets a teacher who has an unusual pedagogical approach.A troubled young boy is sent to a juvenile detention center where he meets a teacher who has an unusual pedagogical approach.
While the film offers quite a bit of fun and humour, with vibrant and interesting characters, it also serves as a social commentary. Markovic perfectly understands the way a juvenile brain works, and the nature of urban life.
However, behind this fun, humorous facade lies a serious critique of the social system in ex-Yugoslavia. The characters are split into two groups: Senior professors, the principal and the students/inmates along with their new guardian Zabac. Zabac serves as a defiant force, constantly rebellious and critical towards the senior teachers and the principal, who are completely unaware of the conditions in which the inmates are living, what kind of food do they eat as well as their very safety and psychological health. The teachers and the principal spend time drinking coffee, planting trees and pretending like the juvenile centre is doing well, while in reality the whole system is at the edge of collapse. The inmates are forced to eat dog food because the principal refuses to aquire better food, the professors are ready to institutionalise a perfectly healthy young man, the principal is planting palms while the inmates are having a bloody brawl just a few feet away from him. The system is rotten, ignorant and completely careless of the inmates' needs.
Guardian Zabac comes as a rebellious figure, a younger man with new methods, a caring man who dares to put the inmates before himself (convinces the principal that a boy is not mentally ill, buys the inmates some better food out of his own pocket, breaks fights, teaches inmates to respect each other). This immediately puts him into a conflict with the principal and other senior professors, who see him as an unneeded outliner and a dissident.
The story serves as an allegory to the times in which it was written. The Detention Centre is Yugoslavia, and the Principal and senior professors are the government. The film offers a brave critique of the system that's becoming increasingly bureaucratic, elitistic, isolated and ignorant of the people's needs. This came in the time in which criticising the system could give you serious problems (from financial punishments and political harrasments to prison sentences or deportations).
Goran Markovic gives a bold, brave social commentary that reveals some long ignored social and political problems in Tito's one-party dictatorship while also serving as a deep but fun juvenile drama, and serves as one of the prime examples of the greatness of Yugoslav cinema.
- Feb 4, 2021