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Past for the Eyes

 | 
Oksana Sarkisova
, 
Péter Apor

Subjects of Nostalgia: Selling the Past

Out of the Past

Memories and Nostalgia in (Post-)Yugoslav Cinema

Nevena Daković

Texte intégral

  • 1 Marc Ferro quoted in Naomi Greene, Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in Postwar French Cinema (...)

…history-as-problem has much less of an audience than
history-as-dream, history-as-escapism, than History.1

  • 2 The term “documentary” will be interchangeably used with “docu,” “documentary material,” “document (...)
  • 3 The term “interventions” broadly refers to the presence and work of documentary material in the fi (...)
  • 4 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 5.

1This article explores the ways the national past of ex-Yugoslavia is cinematically remembered, with particular focus on the role played by the combination of documentary2 and fictional material in the creation of diverse cinematic memories in mainly but not exclusively post-Yugoslav cinema. The primary issue I address is the role of documentary “interventions,”3 the use of remembrance and memories within fictional structures, in shaping the past. I specifically concentrate on how documentary shots—whether obtrusively inserted or seamlessly incorporated—rewrite the master narrative of a past whose very existence confirms the cinema as a privileged form of representation. This privilege is twofold, since cinema is able both to create a persuasive master narrative and to rewrite it, by revealing the hidden, elusive, latent meanings that cannot be expressed in any other way. In other words, cinema is imbued “with a particular sensitivity to groundswells of feelings and to changing sensibilities” and thus “films also lend themselves to the expression of sentiments that have yet to assume verbal form, or that resent clear articulation.”4 This sensitivity allows combinations of documentary and fiction to function as agents of nostalgia; signifiers of memory, emotions and the past; expressions of Zeitgeist or Weltanschauung; genre constituents or bearers of new meanings. Their manifold effects include the re-evaluation of the past, the correction of official public and collective history through metaphorical and symbolic restructuring, the emphasis on the repetitive model of events and the circular temporal regime, as well as the mapping of nostalgic individual and private remembrance.

  • 5 Andrew Dudley uses the term optique, which “suggests the ocular and ideological mechanisms of pers (...)
  • 6 Dušan Bjelić, Obrad Savić (eds.), Balkan as Metaphor: Between Globalisation and Fragmentation (Cam (...)
  • 7 The hybridity of documentary fiction is partially expressed by the term faction as the text interm (...)

2My analysis focuses on the interplay of diverse cinematic materials as what “set the stamp on the representations of the past”5 and not on the correlation between films and changes in the political, historical, or intellectual context—a well-explored topic in the broader fields of sociology, history or political studies.6 My text-centered approach demands a widened notion of documentary material which includes quotations from, references to and imitations of, fiction. The fiction is understood to be contextually endowed with docu-credibility, as the text that mediates and testifies about the past in a “second degree,” that is as testimony already refracted through media fiction. Considered as the material products of the past, in this paper the fiction films themselves are approached as “documents” of their times, i.e. documentary fiction.7 This inclusion allows us to talk about metacinematic moments (for example film within the film) that help the creation of the cinematic remembrances of reality. Regardless of the tone—ironic, re-evaluative or nostalgic—the narratives are further enriched by references to world cinema history.

  • 8 The sequel, entitled A Throatful of Strawberries (Jagode u grlu, 1984), will be barely mentioned s (...)
  • 9 However if the beginning of the disintegration is set right after Tito’s death in 1980 then even t (...)
  • 10 The analysis of cinema as a nostalgic mode is based upon the theories of Vladimir Jankelevitch and (...)

3The films chosen for case study belong to two groups. One group, including titles like Tito and I (Tito i ja, 1992), Underground (1995), Dust (2001), consists of films from the post-Yugoslav era (i.e. after 1992), which directly record the changes in the social context that influence the (re)interpretation of the socialist past. The second group includes titles made before 1992, such as the TV series Unpicked Strawberries (Grlom u jagode, 1974)8 and the film The Marathon Family (Maratonci trče počasni krug, 1982),9 which are either closely linked to impending political crises (The Marathon Family) or are great nostalgic stories setting a pattern to be repeated in the future (Unpicked Strawberries).10

  • 11 Pierre Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de memoire, vols. 1–3. (Paris: Gallimard, 1984–1992). Greene quotes t (...)
  • 12 Linda Hutcheon claims that “[t]he past is something which we must come to terms with and as such a (...)

4The exploration is based upon Pierre Nora’s concept, le lieu de mémoire,11 which argues for a tradition of national memory that we feel has been lost or has disappeared. Nora’s idea of “memory sites” bears particular resonance in the case of film texts. The interpretation of film text as a memory site, constructed of intertwined images/imagining of personal, collective, public pasts and eventually of a dialectical play of documentaries and fiction, vividly encapsulates the object of this analysis. Films that try to “come to terms” with the socialist past, I would argue, follow the model of “historiographic metafiction.” The notion of historiographic metafiction refers to works which consciously problematize the making of fiction and history, posing questions about whose “truth” prevails, and exploring ways in which we can distinguish the past from the present.12

  • 13 Ginette Vincendeau (ed.), Encyclopedia of European Cinema (London: Cassell—BFI, 1999), 457 states (...)
  • 14 Daniel J. Goulding, Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945–2001 (Bloomington—Indianapolis (...)
  • 15 Ibid., 124.

5Early examples of the mixture of documentary and fiction in ex- Yugoslav cinema are found in the Eisensteinian montage of the socially critical and revisionist works of the Black Wave13 classic Dušan Makavejev, from Innocence Unprotected (Nevinost bez zaštite, 1968) to Gorilla Bathes at Noon (Gorila se kupa u podne, 1993). The documentary “quotes” add further meaning to, and open up additional interpretative options within, his ingenious fictions. According to Makavejev the dialectics of densely intertwined facts and fiction challenge existing historical accounts of the past, rather than promoting individual nostalgia. The clustered documentary segments establish significant parallels across different layers of time (Love Affair, or the Tragedy of a Switchboard Operator/Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice PTTa, 1967), when “Makavejev wittily juxtaposes tender and erotic scenes between Isabelle and Ahmed with pedantic lectures by an elderly and distinguished sexologist, Professor Kostic,”14 as well as across spatial borders (linking both sides of the Ocean, as in WR: Mysteries of the Organism, WR: misterije organizma, 1971). The film is “divided in two sections. The first intersperses a documentary on Wilhelm Reich’s life, work, persecution and death in a Pennsylvania prison with examples of the bioenergetic and primal scream therapies employed by contemporary Reichian practitioners and various scenes and interviews reflecting contemporary America of 1969–1970. The second section is a fictional story set in Yugoslavia,”15 which helps to articulate new contextually-determined meanings growing out of the apparently axiomatic factual layer. The following case studies offer a number of variations and elaborations of the initial documentaryfiction model established by Makavejev—of redistributed meanings, reconceptualized notions, rediscovered facts and rewritten fiction.

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

  • 16 Jacques Le Goff quoted in Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 19.

The past is reconstructed as a function of the present
just as much as the present is explained by the past16

  • 17 Hutcheon, “Telling Stories,” 233.

6Undoubtedly history is the ultimate subject matter of the films made after 1992. Problematizing the official version of the socialist past taught in schools and the popular versions advanced by the “national cinema classics,” these films invest in new truths. Investment in new truths means at the same time investment in new genres of “historiographic metafiction.”17 The film texts are equally involved in reshaping history and in researching the history of representation. The intricately related topics materialized in two strands within the film—historiographic and metafictional—that rely largely on the use of documentary clips.

  • 18 A point-of-view shot anchors “the image in the vision and perspective of one or another character” (...)

7One of the first films to revive Makavejev’s cinematic amalgam, coincidentally the last film from ex-Yugoslavia, made in 1992, is Tito and I. It recalls Tito’s era from a subjective point of view—as indicated in the title—and offers personal(ized) memories in a hybrid genre of family chronicle, Bildungsfilm and comedy.18 Goran Marković ironically comments on the 1950s personality cult through the stylized use of documentary footage inscribed in the obsessive dream sequences of the boy hero (Dimitrije Vojnov). The oneiric framing produces a particularly ironic stance toward Tito and his time by creating the necessary critical and “derealizing” distance. The documentary sequences are structured around Tito as the most prominent historical figure and mark the beginning of the dream episodes. Since the archive footage performs a twofold function—of providing the framework for the nation’s present and past public (hi)stories and of giving a particular hue to the individual, intimate world and oneiric years of growing up—it is ascribed equally to the collective and the individual domain. In other words, the docu shots support the realist portrayal of everyday life and the specificity of a child’s perception. The cinematic displacement of Tito’s era and Tito himself from real remembrance into an ironic oneiric realm is paralleled by the disintegration of Yugoslavia in reality at the very moment of filming. In 1992, Slovenia became independent and the Second or ex-Yugoslavia began to be remembered as an irrevocably lost dream.

  • 19 The archive documentary material is taken from the well-known state-produced newsreels called Film (...)

8The docu images of Tito’s journeys around the world and his visits to exotic countries are accompanied by Latino arrangements of Yugoslav folk melodies.19 The lively music provides Bakhtin’s carnivalesque optique, implying that Yugoslav Socialism was a political masquerade enjoyed by the political elites. The hybridization of original footage and music made unfamiliar by new rhythms and arrangements has a dual implication. It underlines both the similarities between Tito and Latin–American dictators and those between Yugoslavia and a banana republic. The latter point is underlined by labeling the newly emerging, unstable and turbulent states (of ex-Yugoslavia) “tomato republics.”

  • 20 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 3.

9The concern with recent history, devastating wars, ethnic cleansing and “balkanization” became the main thematic obsession of films produced in the mid- and late 1990s. From Underground to films such as Pretty Village Pretty Flame, Premeditated Murder (Ubistvo s predumišljajem, 1996), and Country of Truth, Love and Freedom (Zemlja istine, ljubavi i slobode, 2000), the writers and their narratives venture into a rearticulation of the past aimed at providing new explanations for the turbulent present. The past (hi)stories “reflect the attitudes and needs, the uncertainties and fears of the present.”20 To explain the recurrent disasters of the Yugoslav past, the films’ narratives reach for myths, fate and ghosts that haunt the nation, and present them in paraphrased docu sequels.

10The idea of war as an endemic Balkan phenomenon is already explicit in Dušan Kovačević’s work. In his scripts, considered to be among the best in the Yugoslav cinema, The Marathon Family, Who Sings Over There? (Ko to tamo peva?, 1980) and Underground, Kovačević provides a loose chronology of the events that signaled and led to the final disintegration of the second Yugoslavia: The Marathon Family opens with the assassination of King Alexander in Marseilles in 1934; Who Sings Over There? ends with the devastation of Belgrade on April 6, 1941, and the same event is the point of departure for Underground, which follows subsequent developments until 1992. His most recent film, Professional (Profesionalac, 2003), further chronicles the years of Milošević’s rule, with protests, NATO bombing, elections, the 5 October democratic revolution and the end of Milošević’s era. Kovačević, who also directs the film, uses an abundance of documentary shots, shown on the TV screens and video walls in the interiors and identified within the story as police surveillance material or “revolution live” seen by the protagonists.

  • 21 Nevena Daković, “Remembrance of the Things Past” in Guido Rings, Morgan Rikki (eds.), European Cin (...)
  • 22 The emphasis placed on past-present-future relations determines the complex temporal regime of the (...)

11In many ways, the key to understanding the past and history is supplied by Underground, which institutionalized the genre of historiographic metafiction. Historiographic aspects are treated mainly from the point of view of the national community, with the focus on the translation of the “reality” of the perplexing 1990s into history and film, and vice versa.21 The metafictional perspective is created through a self-referential, narcissistic discourse about film history, popular culture and the making of fiction. The narrative makes references to half a century of Yugoslav history but refuses to verify either the official version of the past or our remembrances of it. Underground is the subtle expression of grief for a “country that was once upon a time” and of the growing awareness that the past should be blamed for the present, all of which is articulated by way of a strong criticism of communist regimes.22 The underlying presumption is that all Yugoslav wars are reincarnations of the Ur-conflict or Ur-antagonism. Thus even the core conflicts of (the fairly recent) World War II were never really resolved, but only concealed by the political mantras of Brotherhood and Unity, Socialism and Self-Management.

  • 23 The web of underground tunnels which connect European capitals and are full of armies, victims and (...)
  • 24 An atypical and amusing revolutionary image equally evolves from filmic prototypes such as General (...)
  • 25 In this sense, Natalija (Mirjana Joković), who belongs to one man above ground and to another unde (...)

12The film’s title is also a metaphor—both in spatial and temporal terms—for past history. Underground constantly emphasizes that the unfortunate heroes cannot escape from a vicious circle: they literally cannot get out of, or stop wandering through, the labyrinth of corridors with blood dripping down the walls.23 The cellar which imprisons the multiethnic group becomes a symbol of the nation’s past: an agonizing incarceration within a communist regime and a microcosm of multiethnic ex-Yugoslavia. Underground also alludes to the illegal communist movements (as the illegal Communist Party meetings were literally held underground) which reinforces the idea of the revolutionaries being portrayed as gangsters of the underworld.24 Finally, the references could equally well be considered as mythical or epic since Underground presents, similarly to Gilgamesh, the Odyssee, the Aeneid and the Divine Comedy, a world of the dead that the hero must visit in order to perform an extraordinary deed.25

13The treatment of time is dual: realistically linear on the one hand, and mythically circular on the other. In the closed circle of time the traumas of the past are relived in the present. The present also serves as a mediating point for the mapping of the future through the past. The story is structured in three parts: each has war as the key word in its title: War (1941– 1945); Cold War (1946–1960); War (1980–1995). All contain the rhythmical repetition of dramatic events such as death, childbirth, marriage and victory in battle. The linear progression of fictional weddings and funerals is intercut with authentic historical events: Tito’s death provides an unmistakable focus, and Marko Dren (Miki Manojlović) appears as Tito’s closest associate. The end marks the return to the beginning, to the lost paradise and its myth, bending the linear into the circular mythical time.

  • 26 Lili Marleen provides the connection with real history since the song was broadcast for the first (...)

14Rereading history in multiple time perspectives disrupts the unity and coherence of its official versions, unexpectedly bringing a touch of nostalgia. The film does not recognize World War II in ex-Yugoslavia as a dignified and progressive socialist revolution. Rather, war and revolution are depicted as brutal, manipulative struggles and as the consequences of a passionate infatuation with personal power. Tito’s era is represented as part of the eternal procession of tyrants and their totalitarian regimes through the linking of the musical motif of the famous Nazi song Lili Marleen with two edited sequences of archive material. It accompanies the scenes of the 1941 German invasion of Yugoslavia.26 When German troops marched into Slovenia (Maribor) and Croatia (Zagreb) they were welcomed and greeted in the streets by the population, while in Belgrade they were met by the silent ruins of a bombed and devastated city: the contrasting footage underlines the ongoing disintegration of the country.

  • 27 Many of the specific national signifiers are lost on a foreign audience. However, Tony Rayns brill (...)

15The song also accompanies the scenes of Tito’s funeral. A train carrying Tito’s dead body travels along the same route as the National Socialist armies did in the occupation of Yugoslavia. It might be symmetrically and symbolically read as the disappearance of the last traces of totalitarian regimes. The ensuing funeral ceremony is attended by the greatest political figures of the time, from Margaret Thatcher to Willy Brandt, Jimmy Carter, Nicolae Ceauşescu, and leaders of the non-aligned countries.27 The group portrait of the people who left their mark on the turbulent century, enveloped by the sentimental tones of the German soldiers’ ballad, provokes nostalgic sentiments. It introduces a complex feeling of loss and regret for what—in spite of tyranny and incarceration—is seen by many as a golden era, especially in contrast to what followed. For many who faced the break-up of the country, the wars, the economic crash of the 1990s and eventually the NATO bombing, Tito’s era became a period of wealth, stability and happiness. The Janus-faced remembrance announces the inscription of history into myth and fairy tale, further reinforced by the end of the film, which is ambivalently trimmed with both criticism and nostalgia. On their floating island, the film’s heroes begin the “epilogue” with “once upon a time there was a country” (i.e. Yugoslavia), mimicking the oral tradition of fairy tales but also articulating the sentiments of Serbian audiences about the country and the past they would remember with smiles, sorrow and tears.

  • 28 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 240.
  • 29 The documentary fiction also includes quotations from other forms of art and culture. There are al (...)

16Kusturica’s distinctive style of dense intertextuality, saturated with homage, wide-ranging references and socio–political debates with the socialist realist heritage, confirms the self-conscious metafictional dimension of the film text. His de-naturalization “of the conventions of representing the past in narrative,”28 established a model that was followed by numerous subsequent Yugoslav films. Some of the most important points are made by the use of documentary material incorporated into the fictional structure as well as by its parodic comments. The invented personal film history—thanks to the use of “docu-fiction”—is established as a genuine way of coping with the past.29 There are clear references to a host of influential films by Vigo, Wajda and Tarkovskii. Scenes which verge on Rabelaisian grotesque evoke the legacy of anti–war comedies such as M*A*S*H* (1970), Catch–22 (1970), To Be or Not to Be (1942 together with its 1973 remake) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

  • 30 The generic model is provided by a series of partisan films, “celluloid monuments” to the war and (...)
  • 31 The well-known story of Underground is about a group of people led by Popara who are kept in an un (...)
  • 32 The segment is both film as history and history made as film-within-a-film, supported by the combi (...)

17The culmination of the metacinematic and metafictional approaches is a self-referential parodic segment of the film-within-a-film, in which events of the first part of the film are transformed into the (re)constructed narrative of the inner sequence “Spring Comes on a White Horse.” At the end of the episode, the captives break out of their cellar and find themselves on the set of a movie30 based upon the memoirs of the character called Marko.31 This film-within-a-film satirically reviews Yugoslav cinema history as an array of polished revolutionary spectacles determined for thirty years by the dominance of socialist realism. The spectacular battle scenes, daring rescues, and unabashed heroism rehash the popular clichés of partisan epics. One famous director of the genre—Veljko Bulajić—even “recognized” himself in the role of the film director played by Dragan Nikolić, and threatened to sue Kusturica and his collaborators, thus confirming the factual nature of the fictional allusions.32

18Underground completed the rethinking of the first years of the country’s disintegration and escalating nationalism. Its success coincided with a turning point in the Yugoslav understanding of war: the signing of the Dayton agreement. From the pre-Dayton perspective, Serbia was not at war. The wars fought by Serbian diasporas in other republics were seen by Belgrade as justifiable crusades for their Yugoslav heritage, national dignity and self-protection. An even stronger attitude of total denial of the war characterized the post-Dayton period. As a consequence of the latter, Milošević’s official politics began to clearly separate “Serbian Serbs” from Serbs who lived on the other side of the river Drina, and to distance one group from the other. Instead of being presented as a war which had been fought for nationalist reasons, it simultaneously appeared as a conflict orchestrated by metaphysical powers beyond human control and as the inevitable gloomy Balkan destiny, the work of corrupt politicians.

  • 33 An extensive recapitulation of the polemic is given in Dina Iordanova’s book Cinema of Flames (Lon (...)

19In Underground, Kusturica thus manages to embrace both a nationalist interpretation of the war, as best understood by a local audience, and the concept of a doomed Balkan/Yugoslav destiny, which would be understood by an international audience. But international audiences and critics all too easily overlook the explanatory concepts that he provided (intended in any case for the national audience) and which triggered heated debates about whose side Kusturica was on.33 Some critics read the film as pro-Serbian and symptomatic of Yugo-nostalgia; others, particularly in Slovenia, regarded it as a shameless manipulation of history. While the story’s mythical concept to some extent indeed neutralizes the nationalist explanation of the war, the centrality of the friends/rivals contrast—at least for the local audience—clearly challenges interpretations of the film as a “Serbian ego trip” and “propaganda for Milošević.” Despite being best friends, which in Serbia means more than being blood brothers, the heroes turn against each other in immoral and evil ways just as civil war is generated by a split within one nation (the Serbian) and not mainly between nations (of ex-Yugoslavia).

  • 34 Even Stojan Cerović labels them as Serb and Montenegrin (Iordanova, Cinema of Flames, 116).

20In spite of the heroes’ bitter acknowledgment that “there is no war till brother turns against brother,” the audience—especially the international—may fail to notice the fact that both characters are Serbs.34 Through the names of Popara (Lazar Ristovski), a peasant dish, and Dren, a hard and durable kind of wood, nicknames (Blacky as the mysterious, dangerous conspirator, and comrade Marko as the political opportunist, pillar of the Communist Party), make-up (Popara with a stiff Balkan moustache and Marko with a fancy Hollywood one) and characterization (the populist rural guerrilla leader and the urban career politician), the director is clearly signaling that one is a “Serbian Serb” while the other is a Serb from outside Serbia. In the context of the 1940s, within which the narrative unfolds, these characters personify opposing types of revolutionaries; in the 1990s they turn the film into a treatise on post-Dayton political instrumentalization.

  • 35 Dudley, Mists of Regret, 294.

21Underground, with its generic hybridization and referentiality, reveals the dark side of history, rewriting and ironizing “History with a capital H” as “fabricated by historians.”35 Kusturica questions every myth and the very existence of truth, taking everything to the point of annihilation and overwhelming skepticism. The film text searches for meaning and struggles to reread the history that the nation would remember.

DUAL REVISIONISM: HISTORY AND CINEMATIC HISTORY

22In Underground, metafiction is subsumed in, and made to serve, the construction of the historiographic layer. However, a comparison of Underground, Dust and The Marathon Family reveals and maps the fine gradation in the relationship between the two layers. In the latter cases the metafictional (and eventually metacinematic) layer gradually strengthens until it becomes of equal importance with the historiographic one.

23Milčo Mančevski’s most recent film Dust widens the rethinking of Balkan history (the historiographic strand) by rewriting it in terms of a western (the metafictional strand). The partisan epics, with their lavish production, their clear moral polarization, their mythologization of national history and their reliance upon the genre formula were alternatively labeled “Red westerns.” Dust straightforwardly uses the formula and the authentic components of the genre and can only be regarded as a variation of it. A real cowboy comes to the Wild East, and the local history turns into a multicultural and intercultural version of the authentic American film genre. A system of intertextual and multimedial references knits together the historical explorations of the western with cinematic imaginings and representations of the Balkans and Balkan history.

  • 36 Answering questions about the past and remembrance, the film provides a complex storytelling intro (...)

24Dust has a two–layered narrative. One narrative is set in present-day New York and the other in pastoral Macedonia at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the contemporary beginning, a young African-American named Edge (Adrian Lester) robs an apartment in New York. Angela (Rosemary Murphy), the old lady who owns the apartment, unexpectedly wakes up. But instead of calling the police, she begins to tell Edge her life story, holding him at gunpoint. When she ends up in hospital, Edge keeps visiting her and the storytelling continues. Angela dies and Edge carries on telling her story. In the “Wild, Wild West” in the very last years of the century, two brothers, Luke and Elijah (Joseph Fiennes) fall in love with the same woman, Lilith (Anne Brochet). The Cainesque Luke runs away from the family ménage à trois and ends up in Macedonia, becoming a bounty hunter, but instead of hunting for rebels and money, he joins the Macedonian freedom fighters in their struggle against the Turks. Elijah, the “Abel,” follows Luke in search of revenge. Luke dies saving the rebels, while Elijah takes the Macedonian baby girl with him to New York. The baby is Angela, the storyteller. Back in the present, Edge finishes telling the story and finds himself inserted into the same ongoing process of remembering.36

  • 37 Mančevski’s concept of time in Before the Rain (Pred dozhdot, 1994) is already circular, “The circ (...)

25The tangled narrative unravels as the road veers from New York—the “Wild West”—across the Atlantic to Macedonia—the “Wild East.” In temporal terms, it leaves the present and goes back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ending in the realm of myth.37 In terms of genre, it weaves together the road movie and the western. Dust features the “West of the East,” presenting the Balkans as the genre’s last frontier. The rearticulated and restructured collective memory is punctuated by archive shots that provide temporal and spatial points of reference. Arriving in Paris, Luke goes to the cinema and watches newsreels. The part about exotic countries and people includes the short film The Visit of Sultan Rašid V to Kumanovo and Skopje (Poseta Sultana Rašida V Kumanovu i Skoplju, 1905) about the visit of the Ottoman Emperor to the “colonial” Balkans. Made by the Manaki brothers, the Greek–Macedonian cinema pioneers, it is one of the earliest films preserved from their legacy—the same legacy that Harvey Keitel tries to locate in Ulysses’ Gaze (To Vlemma tou Odyssea, 1995). The narrative relocation in the twentieth century is underlined as the hero encounters historical figures. The insertion of fictional characters into a verified historical context is done in an elegant way, similar to Zelig (1983), Forrest Gump (1994) or Underground. On the ocean liner, in pseudo–authentic footage which is made to resemble old black-and-white newsreel, Luke meets Freud and Einstein. Upon arriving in Paris, he sees Picasso. A while later, the audience sees photos of Angela with Tito.

  • 38 Mette Hjort, “Themes of Nation” in Mette Hjort, Scott MacKenzie (eds.), Cinema and Nation (London— (...)
  • 39 Post-revisionist westerns (Dance with Wolves, 1990, Silverado and The Ballad of Little Joe, 1993) (...)

26In the revised western Dust, the borrowed and reworked elements are subsumed into the rewriting of national history. The inserted documentary material enhances the credibility and verisimilitude of the restaged and reinterpreted past. The rediscovered Balkan past is made into a “perennial” phenomenon that “resonates across borders and cultures,”38 combining tropes of rebellion against colonizers and the postcolonial gaze on the Other. Guerrilla freedom-fighting in South-Eastern Europe resembles the Third World independence movements and is also recognized as being close to the struggle of Native American tribes for liberation as shown in Indianer films and post-revisionist westerns.39 In Dust documentary fiction is employed to create a new version of history: ideological recontextualization for the creation of a self-referential genre text. The Balkan past is revised according to the command from another great western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): “when history becomes myth, print the myth!”

27The mythologizing perspective, typical of westerns, is ensured by Luke’s bewildered gaze and identifies the Balkan skirmishes and battles in terms of the Armageddon between good and evil. The director reframes this from the perspectives of Marxist class-revolution, colonial rebellion or endless Balkan freedom fighting (for the common holy cause), into the ethically less clear distinction between good guys and bad guys of late American westerns. Macedonian heroes are heroes on the ethical borderline, driven by ambivalent personal codes and eager to repent (Shane, 1953; The Magnificent Seven, 1960 or The Wild Bunch, 1969). They are painfully aware that their time is inevitably passing as they sink into despair and melancholy. Balkan warriors are equally driven by the lust for gold (Duck, You Sucker!/Giu la testa, 1971) and prone to violence without firm principles or codes, as they are zealous freedom fighters (Viva Zapata!, 1952). Arriving in Macedonia, Luke sides with the rebels and their nominal moral imperative “do not kill for gold, but kill for ideals,” while Angela proudly claims that “Luke never killed a man without good reason.” The revision of genre history helps the ideological reworking of history.

28The next case study allows the concern with genre history to change into a broader rethinking of the history of national and also world cinema as well as of the history of film technique (the change from silent to sound cinema). Director Slobodan Šijan is a great connoisseur of national and world film history and his films engage in double revisionism: of political history and the national past as well as of national cinema history. The film texts thus acquire a complex self-conscious, metacinematic dimension. The film The Marathon Family, based on the eponymous play by Dušan Kovačević, is the bizarre story of a family of funeral parlor owners and gravediggers in provincial 1930s Serbia. The family’s (hi)story, concerning their fight over jobs and inheritance, parallels the country’s social and historical turmoil, underlined by the approaching shadows of World War II and the Third Reich. The youngest member of the family, Mirko (Bogdan Diklić), is in love with Kristina (Jelisaveta Sabljić), the daughter of the family’s enemy and rival. She is in love with the traveling projectionist and cinema owner Djenka (Bora Todorović). The plot develops as an absurd comedy, ending in the final duel, death and destruction, including the burning of the film in the projector. An ingenious excuse for inserting all sorts of original film material is provided by making the character of Djenka into a traveling projectionist (in the play he is simply an adventurer). Thus the film contains film ads, scenes from Machati’s 1929 Erotikon (first as the film shown in Djenka’s cinema and later parodied when Djenka shoots his film with Kristina swimming in the lake), and Yugoslav feature and documentary films.

29The opening consists of sequences from the documentary film about the assassination of the Yugoslav King Alexander in Marseilles in 1934, his funeral in Serbia at Oplenac and the national mourning. The images of the Marseilles shooting are organically associated with the family’s business. Furthermore, they symbolically paint Serbian/Yugoslav history as a procession of deaths and wars that rhythmically mark tumultuous centuries. They prepare the key line of the film, “In Serbia, death is the job that pays,” that articulates the film’s thematic nexus of death, funeral rituals and funeral processions.

  • 40 The wider claim about Serbian history as a chain of deaths and assassinations is supported by the (...)

30Many varieties of death appear in The Marathon Family: the death of the country, the individual, the family, the way of life, the whole era, or natural death, political assassination, crime of passion, cold-blooded murder, and finally the death of the silent cinema. The ending of the film as a whole closes both the revised national history and the story of the silent cinema by inevitable death (the ruined film in the projector) and disappearance (the projection of the first talkies). The deadly history of the country is emphasized by three symbols of destruction: the parallel history of the silent cinema which is bound to vanish, the film which is bound to be destroyed, and the family which is doomed to face death.40

  • 41 Stam, Flitterman Lewis, Burgoyn, New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics, 16.

31In terms of Jakobson’s communication paradigm, the opening performs three functions: phatic, referential and poetic. The phatic function “corresponds to the contact or the channel” and “is specially geared to establishing an initial connection and ensuring a continuous and attentive reception.”41 In this case the very beginning of the film’s opening (the intertitle “1934” and “Balkan Film presents”) signals two connections: to the film The Marathon Family (whose story begins in 1934 and could also be understood to be presented by “Balkan film”) and to the possible film-within-a-film (the documentary shown in the cinema that depicts a 1934 event and is presented by the same company). Performing a referential function—oriented toward the context—it informs us about the historical and social context of the narrative and its diegesis. The introduction of the multi-level diegetic space framed as the space of cinematic projection itself is made possible by Šijan’s textual structuring. The first intertitle, “1934,” refers both to the main story and to the documentary shots. It is designed in the typography of an obituary, on a black background with a recognizable frame. It is followed by the logo “Balkan film presents,” naming the producer of the documentary shots, but possibly also of the main film.

  • 42 Ibid., 16.
  • 43 As the film develops, after a long time Djenka comes to the town. Kristina—who also plays the pian (...)

32The title The Marathon Family, in the same obituary-style typeface, appears over the shot of a hearse. The documentary shots continue but do not retain their original ending. The whole opening sequence ends with the censer “burning” the opening of the black-and-white film straight into the color that we recognize as the cinematic reality of the main diegesis. Seen over these “reality” shots, the intertitle “six months later, a provincial town in Serbia” rounds off the information about the chronotope of this new diegetic layer. The ending of the whole film is positioned symmetrically to the ending of the documentary prologue with the burning censer. The shot preceding the end credits is the ruined film in the projector signaling the end of the showing of the possible film-within-a-film and of the film projection as the diegesis. But it is only the closing credits, again in obituary format, that mark the end for the extradiegetic audience. The third function in Jakobson’s paradigm is the poetic function which “focus[es] on the message for its own sake; art as (…) defined by its selfreferentiality.”42 Šijan’s film begins with a quote and develops into the metacinematic story. The Marathon Family is above all a metacinematic work; it is about cinema in Serbia, traveling cinematographers, their repertoire, and the moment of the “death” of silent and the arrival of sound cinema.43

IN SEARCH OF PROUST AND NOSTALGIA

  • 44 Jameson, Postmodernism, 168–70.

33Apart from being employed for the revision of the public past, the amalgam of documentary and fiction also serves a Proustian attempt at the search for lost time, evoked through pop-cultural idioms. The intimate, emotional use of documentary shots in a largely politically and ideologically neutral context leads to the manifold changes—of their identification as such (they are no longer documents of public but of personal lives); of the performed effects; and eventually into the emphasis of the similarities of different social and temporal contexts. Frederick Jameson defines such an attempt in the cinema as a “nostalgia genre” that “consists of the films about the past and about specific generational moments of that past.”44

  • 45 Ibid., 170.
  • 46 Ibid., 170.
  • 47 Jameson describes the case of Body Heat (1981) where “nostalgia works as a narrative set in some i (...)
  • 48 Jameson, Postmodernism, 166–7.

34Nevertheless, nostalgia films differ from broadly defined historical films in that they do not “reinvent a picture of the past in its lived totality”; they do not reconstruct the past but rather invent “the feel and shape of characteristics of art objects” in order to evoke feelings of the past.45 The textual elements and mise-en-scène “reawaken a sense of the past associated with those objects”46 which work, among other things, through metonymy, pastiche and parody. Metonymy and pastiche refer to the “crystallized image” of the past that contains factual errors (some details, including music and other elements, do not correspond to the reality of the evoked past).47 Among a number of definitions of pastiche, which is inseparable from mode retro, Jameson opts for the following: “pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique style, the wearing of a stylistic mask (…) but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry (…) pastiche is blank parody.”48 It further implies imitation through patched hybridized quotations, homage, references, and styles which are all typical of popular rather than high culture. In return, the fiction(s) of popular culture and its signifiers, apart from being sources of citations and imitations, are seen as new kinds of documents of the past. Documents are not only documentary films but documentary fiction in films, music, fashion, and even literary quotes. The various documents are a set of signifiers emptied of the real references to the actual past and filled with references to a specific media past and mediated history.

  • 49 Jacqueline Simon, La “felure” dans le cinema romanesque americain des annees 40 et 50 (Paris: Mass (...)
  • 50 This eternal longing and similar temporal regimes emphasize the similarities of nostalgia films an (...)
  • 51 In Casablanca (1943), one of the greatest melodramas of all times, the main musical theme is “As T (...)
  • 52 Jameson, Postmodernism, 173.

35More importantly, the uses of documentaries both in historiographic metafiction and nostalgia films relate to the past and describe human attitudes toward and relations with the past. Nostalgia as an elusive sentiment includes the Fitzgeraldian fêlure: an eternal open wound, pain over a desire that cannot be fulfilled or realized.49 The desire is related to the past in diverse ways—it is for the object from the past; for (re)living another time; for paradise lost.50 The fulfillment of desire is relegated to the past or is obstructed during the narrative by the merciless flow of time, which becomes the universal obstacle. The heroes (like the audience) cannot stop or reverse the flow of time or alter the past events and thus have to face the lack of fulfilled desires from/of/for the past. Nostalgia is nurtured by the sense of irrecoverable loss that is experienced as time goes by51 and that makes us constantly run away from the present into the past, as Jameson elaborates: “The very style of nostalgia films [is] invading and colonizing even those movies today which have contemporary settings: as though, for some reason, we were unable to focus on our own present, as though we have become incapable of achieving aesthetic representations of our own current experiences.”52 The escape into the past further legitimizes the use of documentaries, both real and fictional.

  • 53 Simon, La “felure,” 21–2. She claims that the nostalgia for the past as relived through texts of p (...)

36The revival of the past—through narrative (flashback), style, documentary interventions—changes nostalgia. The nostalgic sentiment is intensified as the relived past forces us once again to (re)experience the loss.53 It is weakened, as the ability to relive golden moments partially redeems the emotion of loss. Finally, it is multiplied: nostalgia for the past is complemented by nostalgia for the created memories of that past, as experienced and “relived” through the “original” and its “representation” in a process which erases the differences between (real) memories of the past, fictional memories and memories of the fiction.

37The ten episodes of what has become a cult TV series, Unpicked Strawberries (1974), narrate the growing up of Bane Bumbar (Branko Cvejić) and his friends in 1960s Belgrade. The series follows them from their formative, late teens until the full maturity of twenty-something. It forms a paradigmatic Belgrade middle-class family chronicle, and depicts the Oedipal trajectory of acquiring social and emotional identity. The scenario—written by Srđan Karanović and Rajko Grlić—is based on the personal memories of the actors and members of their families. In a few cases the names of the characters are actually the real names of the actors. Another layer of the film is the shared social history which became part of the collective memory of generations of Belgrade’s spectators. The nostalgic mood of the series is created by carefully placed flashbacks, a multilayered narrative structure and the intermingling of documentary and fiction segments that develop in a complex temporal regime.

  • 54 The documentary/authentic elements of background and setting, the still existing city topography a (...)

38Every episode is structured according to the same pattern of intertwined past and present segments. The credits—immediately conveying the themes of the past and remembrance—appear after sepia images in a blurred, hectic motion that matches the musical rhythm. The opening credits in the present are followed by the past story—introductory biopics of family members, friends and finally Bane himself—mimicking old newsreels and home movies. Blending documentary shots with fictional parts stylized in black and white to fit in with the epoch, the segment fully corresponds to the “faction” form. The ensuing comments from “nowadays” switch the narrative to the present, only to relapse again into the past in the main segment. The epilogue, beginning with Bane’s comments on the story, ends with a short edited documentary sequence of the events that marked that year. The past is shown in black-and-white, while the main body of the story (the “historic present”) is in color. The pattern of switches is supported by the diegetic/mimetic alternation. The recounted past is given in diegetic voiceover while its disappearance signals the change to mimetic mode. Dedicated to the visualization and imagining of the individual and collective memories (the autobiography of a generation) the text is saturated with the most important pop-cultural experiences of the era (the first jeans, open-air dancing on Kalemegdan, escape over the border and so on).54

39The series also uses the style of old movies of the 1940s and 1950s to awaken the emotions associated with watching these films. The personal past is narrated in the mode, visual style, fashion of the era when it really happened (mode retro). This induces the audience’s nostalgia and regret for the past, which is often remembered through movies. Offered as a pastiche of music, iconography, jargon and films, the hybridized memories resurrect the bitter-sweet taste of the past in its full richness, while the versatile constituents of media memory impose a widening of the notion of documents and facts. The objects, real persons, authentic still-existing scenery, quoted films, books and music become the factual material holders of the past. They appropriately signify the emotional hybridity as sadness and misfortune. A “happy unhappiness” or “pleasurable unhappiness” is more persuasive, engaging and impressive than a happiness without shadow. In the series a certain je ne sais quoi, something elusive, inexplicably and destructively sad, is inscribed in and emanates from the visual softness of the memories of youth, the languid sounds of musical memory, the hazy point of view from the present and the documentary ending that puts the final touch to the “mists of regret.”

  • 55 David Albahari, “Paket aranžman” [Package arrangement], Vreme 537 (3 May 2001), 27.

40In pre-1992 Yugoslavia, the series Unpicked Strawberries was a rare example of the nostalgia genre. It is oriented towards personal, intimate lives and the loci of nostalgia are the 1960s, which in Yugoslavia were the moment of the breakthrough of Western popular culture. Due to this coincidence, the series literary puts into practice the reliance of mode retro or nostalgia films upon pop cultural idioms. A different kind of nostalgia marks a number of films of the 1980s which are collectively identifiable as rock’n’roll films. Although Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Belgrade were equally important centers of the flourishing rock sound, the New Wave in music was followed by a cinematic New Wave only in Belgrade. Rock film as endemic for Belgrade was a unique token of a new urban sensibility; of a time when rock really became part of the culture. “In these parts of the world, rock confirmed, as its most important feature, the urban character.”55

  • 56 The rock album contained music of three bands: Idoli, Šarlo akrobata and Električni orgazam.
  • 57 Three Palms for Two Punks and a Babe (Tri palme ta dve bitange i ribicu, 1998), Thunderbirds (Munj (...)

41This wave of films begins with the symptomatic title The Fall of Rock’n’Roll (Kako je propao rok’n’rol, 1989) and ends somewhat symmetrically in 1995 with the Package Arrangement (Paket aranžman, 1995)—also made as a three-part omnibus and named after the 1980 rock album that marked the beginning of the New Wave in music.56 Loci of nostalgia in rock films are created as clusters of rock music—which appeared to be the authentic sound of the West in the 1960s—of Hollywood genre film references and of the urban atmosphere of the cosmopolitan, dynamic and open Belgrade of the 1980s. The nostalgic feeling is therefore related to the things that the generations always longed to possess and which are finally inscribed in the texts at the moment of realization. Nostalgia as longing is thus, paradoxically, about nostalgia experienced in or from the past. The film texts are the confirmation of the eventually fulfilled wish, full of the joie de vivre that is characteristic of both the urban and the rock atmosphere. The sealed bond between rock, urban and popular culture, given in the developing metacinematic structure and self-referentiality, reappears in the postmodern comedies of Srđan Dragojević or Raša Andrić57 in the 1990s. Dragojević’s We are no Angels (Mi nismo anđeli, 1992) is a paradigmatic text with its postmodernist preference for pastiche and light irony, its directors’ subscription to politique d’auteurs principles and adoration of Hollywood.

42It presents a wide array of quotations from teen comedy, Hawksian adventure story, musical, and action films. Non-cinematic references and allusions involve both high and low culture (Frank Zappa, Sam Peckinpah, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Mann, Barbara Sidney). Both Angels and Andrić’s subsequent films choose to ignore harsh reality; not to be concerned with war and social problems but rather to escape into the constructed world of popular culture, entertainment and Western-style images. But the very denial of and abstinence from comments upon reality is a powerful political (oppositional) stance. Withdrawal from reality into a dreamy world similar to the Yugoslav 1980s and regrets for the loss of a great and better past endow the nostalgia with a politicized tone. The generational nostalgia in post-Yugoslav and postmodern comedies is for Hollywood, for popular culture and the “glorious 1980s” of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that dwindled and finally vanished.

43The diversification of nostalgia films follows the dynamics of historical change. It is in turn politicized and depoliticized as its center moves between the 1960s and the 1980s or around Hollywood and the West. Regardless of its lost object or era it is consistently linked with the pop-cultural domain and self-referential texts—based on quotations from documentary fiction, that is fiction films, rather than documentaries. Documentary fiction is revealed to have a metacinematic dimension equal to that found in historiographic metafiction.

MISTS OF REMEMBRANCE

44The case studies analyzed above demonstrate that the role played by cinema—in the combination of documentary and fiction—in the representation and reconstruction of the (national and other) past and history is versatile and complex, both active and passive. On the one hand the films actively examine and (re)write the collective past or national history (Underground, Dust). On the other hand, they passively write out individual, private (hi)stories through the selection and combination of ready-made elements already codified through popular culture (Unpicked Strawberries). To borrow Naomi Greene’s powerful metaphor, cinema helps us to fill the “landscapes of loss” as well as to recreate the lost landscapes—collective, historical, individual, generational and emotional. The article focused on the landscapes of socialist Yugoslavia that are diversely shown and imagined in the films. The films are distinguishable according to their thematic concern with history and the public or private past, their modes of the representation ([meta]historical or metacinematic forms) and finally their genre models (historiographic metafiction, nostalgia film). Their orientation toward the examination of history resulted in the perfection of the model of historiographic metafiction (Underground or Dust). They deny the official version of history and of the past imposed by a dominant ideology striving for a (national) (hi)story that can only be told in images. As early as in The Marathon Family the interest in film history equals the interest in public history, paving the way for the full self-referentiality and postmodernism of the 1990s. The interest in private remembrances resulted in nostalgia films that try to recover the private past.

45The dialectical relation of remembrance and nostalgia explains their interdependence and the role played by documentaries. The past is evoked through the use of documentaries. In the rearticulation of history their role could also be described as metahistorical, since the historical documents of one era are used to explain another history. In Underground, documentaries from World War II explain the wars of the 1990s. Documentary fiction is used to evoke the history of fiction and representation (genre history in Dust) and eventually to evoke and comment upon the history of cinema (The Marathon Family). In nostalgia films documents of history parallel and enrich the private (hi)stories.

  • 58 Thomas Elsaesser and Warren Buckland, Studying Contemporary American Film: A Guide to Movie Analys (...)

46A feeling of nostalgia accompanies every remembrance of the past, regardless of whether it is history or private past, or of how traumatic that past might be. The most private remembrances presented through pop cultural references—including documentary fiction—inevitably tackle national or public history, acquiring political references and a critical edge. The documentary footage, regardless of its brutality, is softened and nostalgically intoned by fiction. Documentaries veil the naturalistic representation of the past with “mists of regret.” Linking past and present, this inevitable nostalgia confirms the Žižekian need “to dream the past in order to remember the future.”58

FILMOGRAPHY

47A Throatful of Strawberries (Jagode u grlu, Srđan Karanović, SFRY, 1984)

48American Graffiti (George Lucas, USA, 1973)

49Balkan Express (Branko Baletić, SFRY, 1982)

50Balkan Rules (Balkanska pravila, Darko Bajić, FRY, 1997)

51Bathing Beauty (George Sidney, USA, 1944)

52Battle on the Neretva (Bitka na Neretvi, Veljko Bulajić, SFRY, 1969)

53Before the Rain (Pred dozhdot, Milčo Mančevski, Republic of Macedonia/France/UK, 1994)

54Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan, USA, 1981)

55Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, USA, 1943)

56Catch–22 (Mike Nichols, USA, 1970)

57Country of Truth, Love and Freedom (Zemlja istine, ljubavi i slobode, Milutin Petrović, FRY, 2000)

58Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, USA, 1964)

59Duck, You Sucker! (Giu la testa, Sergio Leone, Italy, 1971)

60Dust (Milčo Mančevski, UK/Germany/Italy/Republic of Macedonia, 2001)

61Erotikon (Gustav Machati, Czechoslovakia, 1929)

62Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, USA, 1994)

63General della Rovere (Il Generale della Rovere, Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1959)

64Gorilla Bathes at Noon (Gorila se kupa u podne, Dušan Makavejev, Germany/FRY, 1993)

65Hey Babu Riba (Bal na vodi, Jovan Aćin, SFRY, 1986)

66Innocence Unprotected (Nevinost bez zaštite, Dušan Makavejev, SFRY, 1968)

67Lili Marleen (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany, 1981)

68Love Affair, or the Tragedy of a Switchboard Operator (Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice PTTa, Dušan Makavejev, SFRY, 1967)

69M*A*S*H* (Robert Altman, USA, 1970)

70Mysteries of the Organism (WR: misterije organizma, Dusan Makavejev, SFRY, 1971)

71One Summer of Happiness (Hon dansade en sommar, Arne Mattsson, Sweden, 1951)

72Package Arrangement (Paket aranžman, Srđan Golubović, Ivan Stefanović, Dejan Zečević, FRY, 1995)

73Premeditated Murder (Ubistvo s predumišljajem, Gorčin Stojanović, FRY, 1996)

74Pretty Village Pretty Flame (Lepa sela, lepo gore, Srđan Dragojević, FRY, 1996)

75Professional (Profesionalac, Dušan Kovačević, Serbia and Montenegro, 2003)

76Shane (George Stevens, USA, 1953)

77Star Wars (George Lucas, USA, 1977)

78Story of One Day or the Unfinished Symphony of One Town (Priča jednog dana ili Nedovrsena simfonija jednog grada, Maks Kalmič, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1941)

79Sutjeska (Stipe Delić, SFRY, 1973)

80The Fall of Rock’n’Roll (Kako je propao rok’n’rol, Vladimir Slavica, Goran Gajić, Zoran Pezo, SFRY, 1989)

81The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges, USA, 1960)

82The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, USA, 1962)

83The Marathon Family also known as The Marathon Lap of Honor (Maratonci trče počasni krug, Slobodan Šijan, SFRY, 1982)

84The Visit of Sultan Rashid V to Kumanovo and Skopje (Poseta Sultana Rašida V Kumanovu i Skoplju, Brothers Manaki, Macedonia, 1905)

85The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, USA, 1969)

86Three Palms for Two Punks and a Babe (Tri palme ta dve bitange i ribicu, Raša Anrić, FRY, 1998)

87Thunderbirds (Munje, Raša Andić, FRY, 2001)

88Tito and I (Tito i ja, Goran Marković, SFRY, 1992)

89To Be or Not to Be (Alan Johnson, USA, 1973)

90To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, USA, 1942)

91Ulysses’ Gaze (To Vlemma tou Odyssea, Theo Angelopoulos, Greece, 1995)

92Underground (Emir Kusturica, France/FRY, 1995)

93Unpicked Strawberries (Grlom u jagode, Srđan Karanović, SFRY, 1974)

94Viva Zapata! (Elia Kazan, USA, 1952)

95We are no Angels (Mi nismo anđeli, Srđan Dragojević, FRY, 1992)

96When I Grow Up I will Be a Kangaroo (Kad porastem biću kengur, Raša Andrić, FRY, 2004)

97Who Sings Over There? (Ko to tamo peva?, Slobodan Šijan, SFRY, 1980) Zelig (Woody Allen, USA, 1983)

Notes

1 Marc Ferro quoted in Naomi Greene, Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in Postwar French Cinema (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999),

2 The term “documentary” will be interchangeably used with “docu,” “documentary material,” “documentary (sometimes archive) footage,” implying the quality of being true to reality, authentic, being based upon true events or things. It also refers to the facts in the sense of information about a particular subject, about something actual as opposed to invented. The notion of “faction” colloquially signifies work that is an amalgamation of fiction and documentary: it is thus a convenient term for the whole group of works explored in this essay.

3 The term “interventions” broadly refers to the presence and work of documentary material in the fictional structure and is close to the notions of insertion, combination, amalgam, intrusion or even contamination and the resulting effects.

4 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 5.

5 Andrew Dudley uses the term optique, which “suggests the ocular and ideological mechanisms of perspective.” Andrew Dudley, Mists of Regret: Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Cinema (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 19. The mode of fiction/docu intertwining might be seen as the optique/mechanism of perspective for memories and the past in general.

6 Dušan Bjelić, Obrad Savić (eds.), Balkan as Metaphor: Between Globalisation and Fragmentation (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2002); Ivo Banac, Eastern Europe in Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992); David Norris, In the Wake of the Balkan Myth: Questions of Identity and Modernity (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999).

7 The hybridity of documentary fiction is partially expressed by the term faction as the text intermingling facts and fiction, in which fictional material takes on the function of, and is treated as, documentary or archival footage.

8 The sequel, entitled A Throatful of Strawberries (Jagode u grlu, 1984), will be barely mentioned since it does not contain any documentary footage.

9 However if the beginning of the disintegration is set right after Tito’s death in 1980 then even these films belong to the post-Yugoslav era.

10 The analysis of cinema as a nostalgic mode is based upon the theories of Vladimir Jankelevitch and Frederick Jameson. Vladimir Jankelevitch, L’Irreversible et la Nostalgie (Paris: Flammarion, 1973); Frederick Jameson, Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993).

11 Pierre Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de memoire, vols. 1–3. (Paris: Gallimard, 1984–1992). Greene quotes the definition of “lieu de memoire” as a “significant entity, whether material or nonmaterial in kind, that has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of a given community, as a result of human will or work of time.” Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 4.

12 Linda Hutcheon claims that “[t]he past is something which we must come to terms with and as such a confrontation involves an acknowledgment of limitation as well as power.” Linda Hutcheon, “Telling Stories: Fiction and History” in Peter Brooker (ed.), Modernism/Postmodernism (Harlow: Longman, 1992), 239.

13 Ginette Vincendeau (ed.), Encyclopedia of European Cinema (London: Cassell—BFI, 1999), 457 states that the term refers to “radical Yugoslav films of the late 1960s/1970s,” directed by Želimir Žilnik, Živojin Pavlović, Dušan Makavejev and Aleksandar Petrović. The films were critical of Yugoslav society and criticized many of its problems, such as corruption, hypocrisy, state bureaucracy and the communist ruling class.

14 Daniel J. Goulding, Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945–2001 (Bloomington—Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002), 124.

15 Ibid., 124.

16 Jacques Le Goff quoted in Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 19.

17 Hutcheon, “Telling Stories,” 233.

18 A point-of-view shot anchors “the image in the vision and perspective of one or another character” and is “marked by greater or lesser degrees of subjective distortion.” Robert Stam, Sandy Flitterman Lewis, Robert Burgoyn, New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics (London: Routledge, 1992), 167.

19 The archive documentary material is taken from the well-known state-produced newsreels called Filmske novosti—the same ones as Dragojević paraphrases at the beginning of Pretty Village Pretty Flame (Lepa sela, lepo gore, 1996)—a Serbian version of the March of Time.

20 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 3.

21 Nevena Daković, “Remembrance of the Things Past” in Guido Rings, Morgan Rikki (eds.), European Cinema: Inside-Out. Images of the Self and the Other in Postcolonial European Film (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag, 2003), 243–59.

22 The emphasis placed on past-present-future relations determines the complex temporal regime of the narratives. From Underground to films such as Pretty Village Pretty Flame, Premeditated Murder and Balkan Rules (Balkanska pravila, 1997), the authors elaborate past/present relations through visibly maintained constant and ironic dialogue, conditioning even the narrative organization. See, for example, the three parts of Underground, the four narrative strands in Pretty Village or the prolaptic construction of Balkan Rules.

23 The web of underground tunnels which connect European capitals and are full of armies, victims and refugees is regarded as the work of international communist or orthodox alliances. Tony Rayns, “Underground,” Sight and Sound 6 (1996): 54; Misha Glenny, “If You Are Not For Us,” Sight and Sound 6 (1996): 13.

24 An atypical and amusing revolutionary image equally evolves from filmic prototypes such as General della Rovere (Il Generale della Rovere, 1959) or Balkan Express (1982), with brigands and hoodlums as accidental war heroes.

25 In this sense, Natalija (Mirjana Joković), who belongs to one man above ground and to another underground, could be regarded as a contemporary Persephone.

26 Lili Marleen provides the connection with real history since the song was broadcast for the first time by Radio Belgrade on April 11, 1941. Rainer Werner Fassbinder replays this event in his film Lili Marleen (1981), while Hark Bohm, who plays the song’s composer in Fassbinder’s work, appears at the end of Underground as a hospital doctor.

27 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.” Rayns, “Underground,” 53.

28 Greene, Landscapes of Loss, 240.

29 The documentary fiction also includes quotations from other forms of art and culture. There are allusions to the Bible (the cellar as Noah’s ark of salvation), painting (Gericault’s or Breughel’s compositions), comics and literature.

30 The generic model is provided by a series of partisan films, “celluloid monuments” to the war and revolution in former Yugoslavia, culminating in the expensive ecstatic spectacles Battle on the Neretva (Bitka na Neretvi, 1969) and Sutjeska (1973). From the 1960s onwards their aesthetic simplicity, total ideological loyalty, psychological and emotional schematism, political homogeneity and increasing budget were aimed both at glorifying the socialist revolution and at silencing the uproar of social criticism.

31 The well-known story of Underground is about a group of people led by Popara who are kept in an underground cellar for many years after the end of World War II. Their imprisonment is orchestrated by Popara’s comrade Marko, who has become a prosperous politician in a high position. For his personal profit he makes the group believe that the war is still in progress. At one point Popara and his son break out of the cellar. Coming to the surface they run into the shooting of a film version of Marko’s war memoirs. The film set confirms the illusion of continuing devastation that Marko created for them. Film and reality conveniently intertwine, as Popara and his son take the cinematic illusion to be reality.

32 The segment is both film as history and history made as film-within-a-film, supported by the combination of extradiegetically/intradiegetically framed narrations.

33 An extensive recapitulation of the polemic is given in Dina Iordanova’s book Cinema of Flames (London: BFI, 2001), 111–36.

34 Even Stojan Cerović labels them as Serb and Montenegrin (Iordanova, Cinema of Flames, 116).

35 Dudley, Mists of Regret, 294.

36 Answering questions about the past and remembrance, the film provides a complex storytelling introduced by the motto: “Where does your voice go when you are no more? What do we leave behind? Is it the story of our lives? Is it how others remember us? Is it the children we leave behind? Or the material records such as movies and photographs? Is it only the ashes in the urn? Is it the Dust?” (Dust).

37 Mančevski’s concept of time in Before the Rain (Pred dozhdot, 1994) is already circular, “The circle is not round, time never dies.” In Dust, it is explained: “The centuries do not follow each other but coexist like parallel universes.” Linear time bends and buckles into a circle. Its trajectory is paved by the repetition of the déjà vu events and rituals in different contexts.

38 Mette Hjort, “Themes of Nation” in Mette Hjort, Scott MacKenzie (eds.), Cinema and Nation (London—New York: Routledge, 2000), 106.

39 Post-revisionist westerns (Dance with Wolves, 1990, Silverado and The Ballad of Little Joe, 1993) “have sought to modify the ways in which some of these dimensions have been handled.” See Steve Neale, Genre and Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2000), 142.

40 The wider claim about Serbian history as a chain of deaths and assassinations is supported by the totality of the oeuvre of Dušan Kovačević. Every film chapter of the spontaneous chronicle of Serbian and Yugoslav history in his oeuvre ends with death, assassination and devastation.

41 Stam, Flitterman Lewis, Burgoyn, New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics, 16.

42 Ibid., 16.

43 As the film develops, after a long time Djenka comes to the town. Kristina—who also plays the piano for silent film shows—is eagerly waiting for him to continue their clandestine affair. Djenka simply wants to show the first talky. Announcing the first talky he publicly renounces silent cinema and his relationship with, and love for, Kristina. Both love and passion are relegated to the past. The film chosen for the gala screening is the Story of One Day or the Unfinished Symphony of One Town (Priča jednog dana ili Nedovršena simfonija jednog grada, 1941) produced by Balkan film, whose logo we have already seen.

44 Jameson, Postmodernism, 168–70.

45 Ibid., 170.

46 Ibid., 170.

47 Jameson describes the case of Body Heat (1981) where “nostalgia works as a narrative set in some indefinable nostalgic past, as eternal 1930s, say, beyond history.” In ex-Yugoslav cinema a great example is Hey Babu Riba (Bal na vodi, 1986), where the fragments from Bathing Beauty (1944) and One Summer of Happiness (Hon dansade en sommar, 1951) are used to create the effect of the eternal late 1940s of the nostalgic narrative.

48 Jameson, Postmodernism, 166–7.

49 Jacqueline Simon, La “felure” dans le cinema romanesque americain des annees 40 et 50 (Paris: Masson, 1989).

50 This eternal longing and similar temporal regimes emphasize the similarities of nostalgia films and melodrama as having a certain romantic quality. Melodrama revolves around emotional frustration and whether or not there is a happy ending, the very presence of longing, desire or memories entails sweet nostalgia. For more about melodrama, see Nevena Daković, Melodrama nije žanr [Melodrama is not a Genre] (Belgrade and Novi Sad: Prometej, 1995).

51 In Casablanca (1943), one of the greatest melodramas of all times, the main musical theme is “As Time Goes By.” In the Koran it is written that time is the only true witness to the fact that we are all eternal losers.

52 Jameson, Postmodernism, 173.

53 Simon, La “felure,” 21–2. She claims that the nostalgia for the past as relived through texts of popular culture (and constructed memories) is a secondary feeling which is not the same as the primary experience. The second time round one feels something one knew the first time and now recognizes and the second experience leaves a feeling of déjà vu. The partially recognized and satisfied desire generates further nostalgic longing.

54 The documentary/authentic elements of background and setting, the still existing city topography and recollections of the real popular figures of the 1960s who appear as themselves make it a successful example of constructed urban mythology.

55 David Albahari, “Paket aranžman” [Package arrangement], Vreme 537 (3 May 2001), 27.

56 The rock album contained music of three bands: Idoli, Šarlo akrobata and Električni orgazam.

57 Three Palms for Two Punks and a Babe (Tri palme ta dve bitange i ribicu, 1998), Thunderbirds (Munje, 2001) and When I grow up I will be a Kangoroo (Kad porastem biću kengur, 2004).

58 Thomas Elsaesser and Warren Buckland, Studying Contemporary American Film: A Guide to Movie Analysis (London: Arnold, 2002), 248.

Auteur

Nevena Daković (b. 1964) is associate professor of Film Theory and Film Studies in the Department of Theory and History at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. Her research focuses on representations of national and multicultural identity in cinema. She is the author of Melodrama is Not a Genre (1995) and Dictionary of Film Theoreticians (2002).

© Central European University Press, 2008

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