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Croatian film


In search of personal expression

Some aspects of Croatian feature film modernism.

For the purpose of defining modernist stylistic formation, the author draws out some postulates of mannerism from the theory of literature (Ernst Robert Curtius i Gustav René Hocke) and applies them to film (modernism as ’anticlassical tendencies’ that are not limited to time of prevalence of the modernist style, but are experienced as ’constant’ and ’particular way of expression’). Modernist restructuring of classical narrative postulates can be observed in orientation on non-storytelling aspects of a scene and towards the narratively non-functional modes of presentation (those that attract attention to themselves, and not the event presented), in other words, in focussing on the presentation of the ’state’ (psychological, relations between people, state of the society, etc.). Pinpointing modernist influences in our 1960s feature film production, the author makes a distinction between reflexive (critical/problematic attitude toward social reality) and formal modernism (explicit expression of form, innovations on the level of structure). While on one hand, we are witnessing a higher degree of criticism in presentation of social problems (affirmation of social criticism), a more complex debating and consideration of social and human relations, and a preference for presentation of what goes on in the soul of the character (introspection, subjectivization and psychological analysis), on the other hand those films are formally (as far as their form is concerned) directed to individual expressiveness (film being means of expression): they refrain from strictly storytelling form and classical dramaturgy of story development (tendency towards the dramaturgy of the rondo), disregard classical composition patterns, abandon narrative procedures in scene construction (elliptic editing, evocativeness, contrast, discontinued scene organization), etc. Special attention in the text is given to expressive direction of Vatroslav Mimica, who in his three (consecutive) films Prometheus from the island of Viševica (1964), Monday or Tuesday (1966), and I’ll kill you, Kaja (1967), created the first transparent modernist formation (stressed aestheticism, formal experimentation) in Croatian cinema. Explicitly insisting on expression (opposing strict functionality of classical narrative style), Mimica presents the most radical case in Croatian 1960s feature film production; namely, Mimica visual style(ization) as a world(view) task (as a sign of personal modernism), makes him display his casual approach to tradition with open thematization of style (expressiveness a priori).

Miroslav Sikavica

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