CROATIAN CINEMA’S CLASSICS
Genre and ideology in the film Don’t turn around, Son
Jurica Pavičić’s essay is a worthwhile contribution to (r)evaluation of Croatian film Don’t turn around, Son (Branko Bauer, 1956), shot in the context of mostly ideologically coloured cinema of former Yugoslavia and Croatian culture under communist rule. Having analysed generic determinants, directorial style (classical narrative), and ambiental and iconographic constituents of Bauer’s war thriller, Pavičić shows why this film was an exception in (predominantly socialist-realist) production of the period, while at the same time it attracted no attention from contemporary critics, who neither loved it, nor understood it. The generation of critics that sprang from the magazine Film recovered the reputation that the film acquired in the late 1950s.
Apart from the influence of foreign models (especially Carol Reed), the uniqueness of Bauer’s film resides in its generic orientation (film is a mixture of thriller and melodrama), directorial minimalism and functionality, and in addition, his disregard for ideology and ideological treatment of characters, the choice of urban (city) ambient, and focussing on members of the middle class. Moreover, it is more than obvious that bourgeois ethics, rules of the old school and good family upbringing motivate almost all of Bauer’s important heroes. Thus, Don’t Turn around, Son functions as an ode to bourgeoisie and bourgeois ethics in the heart of communist hagiographic discourse. Precisely for this tribute to bourgeois morals, Don’t Turn Around, Son is a unique example of communist war film, and a unique product in the context of Croatian civic culture. Bauer’s attachment to western models surpasses simple production standards and aesthetic ideology. Film’s strongest link with foreign models is its ideology.