For people not familiar with former Yugoslavia, the bridge is located on Tara river canyon in present day Montenegro. Build just before WWII, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
By its characteristics, the movie was a departure from the "black wave", which was more focused on the inner psychology of protagonists, to more "modern" action orientated and streamlined, stereotypical and one may say even cartoon-like characters following Hollywood style WWII template.
Having said all that, I quite like this movie. Very entertaining and with a great "O bella ciao" tune.
I felt the story of the movie was much more personal for the director than his first attempt and this time with all its technical flaws it did manage to construct a sufficiently coherent story and a meaningful message.
The main question this movie grapples with is: what is more difficult, staying or leaving? Leaving comes with its own set of problems like so many of refugees in this day and age discover and is so much discussed, however, the director is more interested in telling the story of those who were left behind to fend for themselves and to forever miss and idolize their older brothers and sisters who "made it" to the famed west and are now living a "good" or at least "cooler" version of life somewhere over the rainbow over there.
I almost felt he was talking about himself personally and that he had someone real in mind close to him who had left during those dark days of 90s. Also, being one of those who did go, I hear him loud and clear and the message touched the raw nerve somewhere deep inside me this time. I used to live practically spitting distance from the block the movie was shot at so that also certainly added to the impact - for me.
On that level, highest marks. On more superficial level, the story still lacked fluidity, still looks great, acting was much better and kudos for finally speaking in true Montenegrin accent.
Watching this movie will tell you a story of the civil war in Yugoslavia as seen from the point of view of every old-school officer of the former Yugoslav Army.
Janez Kranjc, a Slovene, was all his life devoted and proudly loyal to the Yugoslav cause. When the time came to choose sides at what was the beginning of the Yugoslav break-up, he did the only thing he believed was right an honorable. He chose Yugoslav ideal before local-patriotism, and by doing so sacrificed a future and career prospects of his whole family. They had to leave his native Slovenia and became effectively refugees in Belgrade.
There were fewer and fewer true Yugoslavs in Belgrade, though, and he slowly realizes that he is now just another foreigner in what he still believed was his country. A traitor to the Slovenes and just another Slovene to the Serbs...
Zivojin Pavlovic has been one of the best proponents of naturalist/realist style of cinema in Yugoslavia and as such this film is distinctive among other Yugoslav films depicting the wars of the 90s. It is very true to what really happened to thousands of honorable people in uniform during that dark decade.
A difficult film to watch, it did justice to the very serious topic.
Sarajevo is a raped city, Bosnia is a raped country and the culprit, although known, has never been convicted. How a person, and a nation, finds a strength to overcome the injustice? Very difficult, sometimes impossible.
I hoped and prayed that Sarajevo has that strength, and still do, however, this movie showed me how heavy the burden is. It is personal, a message to each one of the viewers to try to put themselves in victim's shoes and see how they would cope. Hard core stuff. The film tries to put on a positive spin at the end, however, it wasn't that convincing, I am afraid.
Very pretty looking film, however, lacks in substance, bit pretentious
There are some aspects of this movie that I really liked: it is visually stunning, it is the first film ever that shows the urbane side of Montenegro and its capital, Marija Vickovic can sure hold the screen, also, 10/10 for bringing ex Yugoslavia together in making this film. However, that is about it. The rest was quite irritating for me: the story doesn't have any real flow or a grip on the viewers, acting is shocking, and ... I just had a feeling that the director was trying bit too hard to make Podgorica look "worldly". The language was also annoying, the actors should have made an effort to learn to speak in Montenegrin accent, even the Podgorica-born Vickovic speaks like she lived in Belgrade all her life. All in all, good effort for a first movie, however, plenty of room for improvement - 5/10.
This film is the best piece of cinema I have had the pleasure of seeing in a very, very long time, period. I enjoyed every minute of it! Yes, it beats the hell out of No Man's Land, my fellow reviewer! It's powerful, eloquent, entertaining and with a great sense of humor. Together with Rane and Normalni Ljudi (two Serbian equivalents), it shows amazing vitality of the people living in the Balkans. The strength to make laugh at its own expense and its stupidity that caused fratricidal carnage of the 90's. It is a true art at its best.
The very fact that films of such quality are consistently coming out of this "backward region" are the best sign that all is not lost, just yet.
The film is based on an old Serbian epic song. It is one of not too many Yugoslav films with medieval 14 century theme, so only for that, for me, it would be worth a look.
Dragan Nikolic is brilliant as Vlah Alija, with no other than Franco Nero as Banovic Strahinja. Rade Serbedzija is exceptional as a crazy dervish and the scene where he is impaled by the Turks is more than powerful.
A minor curiosity in this day and age is that the film with such a typical Serbian folk story was directed by a Croat.
Zivko Nikolic is easily the most important Montenegrin movie director of all times and this is his most audacious film. So many fine details that only a Montenegrin can pick up, the language, the mentality, directness of the way people interact, the good side of their mentality - depicted in Milutin, and the ugly side - pretty much all the rest...
I can't witness if the actual story was in any sense realistic, however, the people are spot on - bit exaggerated but true to the bone! It is perhaps not the easiest film to watch, however the effort will be amply rewarded. The mistake one shouldn't make is to take the story literally. It is a very subtle analysis of his beloved and at the same time cursed land.
I am still amazed at how Zivko managed or more precisely was allowed to make such an uncompromising attack at the secret police and its legacy in Montenegro. Perhaps he caught a rare moment of about 4-5 years when its grip temporarily let off. After 1989, the guys in leather coats (these days driving Golfs, as another self chosen status symbol) are back in earnest and this film is very relevant indeed even in present day Montenegrin society.
I have first seen this film about 30 years ago, in the hey day of communism in Yugoslavia, when it was, along with "Neretva" and "Sutjeska" considered an absolute classic and "obligatory viewing" for every a "well meaning" citizen.
Seeing it again, after so many years, I can see why. It is full of typical communist propaganda of that era, almost enticing hatred against "the enemy", glorifying the common man and its inner strength etc. etc. all the common places of the socialist realism. Yet, strangely, on some other level, it still works. It is a very graphic depiction of what a war really is, it shows in an unapologetic way all its traumas and sufferings and also how it brings the best and the worst in different people. I also liked low brow, peasant language, yet so deep and full of wisdom.
Some scenes are still extraordinary powerful.
It might have once been a banner of communist establishment, however, this movie is still definitely worth a look!