HRVOJE TURKOVIĆ: CONTEMPORARY FILM
For many people, the film criticism of
film theoretician Hrvoje Turković published between 1993
and 1995 in the weekly Vijenac, and now published
in a separate book was their first contact with Turković
as a critic. Turković, with his systematic critic’s approach
to the field of film criticism, has made an unavoidable
and thoroughly singular name for himself in Croatia.
Turković’s criticism reveals him to be an author who nurtures the type of essayistic
or wide ranging criticism in which, through the analysis of a particular film
in a broader context (for the most part based on genre, genealogy, film history,
reception and culture, rather than on the authorial aspects), he demonstrates,
with often fascinating lucidity, the extent of the specific and the general.
That which sets Hrvoje Turković apart from other contemporary
Croatian critics is his self-assured insistence on the
impression a film makes on him as the primary and indubitably
certain foundation for every qualitative evaluation.
Consequently, he does not divide films a priori according
to procedure, but rather according to the utmost level
of competence in the chosen film making method of operation
in which there is no principle qualitative procedural difference.
However this is only in principle, since, some readily
prove to be more beneficial. And it is precisely these
that Turković considers more subtle, these are films by
the »master carvers« rather than by »master carpenters
or master lumberjacks«.
Turković believes the epitome of
film art to be the Hollywood film that usually fits into
a given genre or stylistic formula, and he believes it
is precisely through this that they demonstrate their superiority
in conveying the highest qualities within a given (typical)
formula. Of course, he also values the »highly artistic
line« of modernistic films, and considers them to be a
worthy alternative, but not superior to the Hollywood film.
He respects modernistic poetry when it is spontaneous,
when it bears witness to the personal worldview of the
author. However, in the end, Turković gives precedence
to the Hollywood film which is dominated by a high degree
of subtle »carving«, while the alternative modernistic
film, generally speaking, is under the dominant influence
of the rough master »carpenters« and »lumberjacks«.
One can find fault with Turković’s stance in his noncriticality
toward the average Hollywood film, i.e. his neglect of
the modern and postmodern tendencies which he treats
like a current fad. Nevertheless, whether you agree with
Hrvoje Turković’s impressions and opinions, it is impossible
to deny that his views are often intriguing and, even
more often, analytically lucid and precisely argued. Contemporary
Film, along Vladimir Vuković’s An Imitation of Life and
Dražen Movre’s From
the Seventh Row Left, is the third exceptionally
important collection of film criticism to published
in Croatia during this decade. This collection, with
a different, »more scientific« approach than the prior
collections, will demand a more educated readership,
and I believe that it will have a significant influence
on future film writers.