About us
Croatian film


Artificial inputs: Croatian film and literary generic criticism

It is easy to discern that cultural public is not satisfied with Croatian film criticism, and even more so with literary criticism. Film-makers, film theoreticians, public figures in cultural life often complain that domestic film criticism is anti-intellectual, Hollywood crazed, lacking sense of tradition, pandering to populist tastes and is deracinated from the cultural tradition on the whole. Reproaches at the expense of literary criticism are completely contradictory: common accusations are that it is limited to academic circles, uses obscure, expert meta language, that it is self-sufficient and has deficient communication with the reading public in addition to holding the status of an extension of academic philology.

Film criticism is often reproached that it writes about and elevates only those movies that are widely watched, while it fails to deal with those that are not already under the viewers’ noses: art-film, experimental film, independent film, European and Asian film. On the other, hand, literary criticism is reproached for not writing about the books that are read anyhow. These two sharply opposed blindness’ largely account for the relationship of the two critic’s tribes towards genre. Croatian film criticism lives in a state of permanent elabration of generic criticism. There is already the fourth generation of critics (First Hitchcockians, then critic’s circles behind the magazines ’Film’ and ’Kinoteka’) rediscovers and reacknowledges generic values and generic authors. At the same time, genre and the approach to genre present a difficult methodological problem for Croatian literary criticism. When they write about genre books, Croatian literary critics resort to the ’discourse of surpassing’.

This can be observed from the fact that the value of a book is acknowledged ’despite’ the fact that it is a generic work. In such cases, critics usually use rhetorical rituals represented by phrases such as: ’the author has surpassed pure generic waste’, ’the work is more than a mere detective novel’, and ’the work avoids generic stereotypes’. Croatian literary criticism, as a rule, places any sort of generic literature under a common denominator of ’trivial literature’, which says enough about its narrow mindedness. Film lovers, cineasts and film critics developed an awareness of the importance, potential aesthetic value and research attraction of genre although this development was empirically conditioned and formed itself in close connection with viewers’ affinities. Perception of genre and its possible implications — psychoanalytic, politic, religious, and moral — came later on, in the steps of pleasure and meditation on pleasure. Literary academic community acquired an awareness of genre and its value from another source: theory. It started off with the structuralist movement, its literature, and its method, which spread in the academic and critical circles in the mid 60s.

This view was potentially dangerous since theory infected criticism; in other words, structuralism was interested in genre only because of its triviality. Engrossment in genre that drew its roots from structuralist theory was disastrous for critics since it acknowledged general, repetitive, and unspecific elements, while disregarding those that were specific and particular. Both approaches were handicapped in the same manner: neither Croatian film, nor Croatian novel have any sort of generic tradition. In Croatia, a perception of genre remains marked by mirrored blindness. Finally achieving generic consciousness with the postmodernist movement, literary criticism sought in genre means of literary self-consciousness even when dealing with traditional writers and novels.

Film criticism, on the other hand, in its effort to sustain a national mainstream and satisfy the need for real, large-scale production of narrative classic, was inclined to view these new modernist generic authors as a replacement–continuance of the classical stream. Literary criticism stemmed from theory only to end up raping the production, while film criticism did the same, only it’s source was a craving after nonexistent viewers’ generic experience in Croatian films.

Jurica Pavičić

Classical musical
Genres in film postmodernism
Mannerist westerns of Sergio Leone

View other articles in this edition...


new edition

Web Statistics