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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.

Damir Radić

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