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Croatian film


Patriarchy in Zvonimir Berković’s movies

Croatian films have always consistently advertised patriarchy, that is to say, social situation in which men have predominance over women in all significant areas of social life, starting with family life, socio-economical and cultural life. However, in modern films, especially in the cases of Krešo Golik and Zvonimir Berković, who often deal with women’s roles, patriarchy appears in particularly interesting forms. In the films of Zvonimir Berković, female characters are some of the most subtle and most sophisticated dramatic characters in Croatian cinema. The author assigns them an important role in his philosophy of life: the mysterious female ingredient introduces unpredictability in male-female relations, often identifying itself with the principle of destiny on the Shakespearian battlefield of emotions and passion. Berković’s movies are also interesting because they are absorbed with the urban surrounding where patriarchy is harder to trace, that is to say, patriarchy appears in a distorted, interestingly hidden way.

This paper is trying to detect a patriarchal situation that in each of four Berković’s movies female characters solve in different ways. It strives to establish a common denominator that underlies life philosophies of women that resolve their positions in Berković’s movies. To sum up, we may say that movies in question are constructed in such a way that all relationships, stereotypes and actions of characters disintegrate at the very beginning, while the dramatic plot is revealed as one great subversion of meaningfulness of the principal problem. Every attempt to stand up to the norms of patriarchal society; to the norms that belittle women, ends in death or misfortune (The Journey, Countess Dora), and is accompanied by the inevitable feeling of guilt and neurosis, typical for those who refuse to ’stick to their place’. Every time a woman manages to adapt to the patriarchal model, she is rewarded at least by an illusion of gain (Rondo, Love Letters With Intent).

The stronger the pressure of the community and the resistance of woman, the smaller is the possibility of her favourably resolving her patriarchal situation. Woman approaches the patriarchal world attempting to archive ’all or nothing’, but that world is relativized, ruled by double morals: male irresponsibility is punished by social unease, while female irresponsibility is resolved by punishing mechanisms of ’destiny’. Act of accepting this situation reveals itself as pure cynicism — a woman needs to accept the fact that her identity is hidden in her femininity and sexual appurtenance, independent of her character and nature. This is the source of her personal capital, the ticket for her life show.

Sanja Kovačević

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