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Croatian film

Pula '98

A Superior Film Decathlete

Exceptionally honored during his extensive career as a cinematographer, director and pedagogue, Nikola Tanhofer united, in his personality, multiple talents and a multi-faceted film professionalism. He maintained a lasting intellectual curiosity toward film, which drove him to solve technical and other hidden secrets of the medium. Led by his passion for exploring the technical possibilities of the medium, he, for the first time in Croatian film, used rear projection (Sinji Galeb, B. Bauer, 1953), special effects photography of models to simulate a bus and truck collision in his film H-8 (1958), and the process of flashing (The Key, Vrdoljak, 1965).

As one of the best Croatian cinematographers, Tanhofer showed a tendency toward a modern lapidary expression in his camera and directorial work, as well as a desire for a rhythmically expressive series of lively shots and sequences. He began working as a cinematographer in 1949 (The Flag, B. Marjanović, for which he received the People’s Republic of Croatia Award), and continued to work as a director of photography in several other memorable films: Blue 9 (K. Golik 1950), Sinji Galeb (B. Bauer, 1953), Ciguli Miguli (1952), and The Siege (B. Marjanović 1956). After these films he tried his hand at directing with It Was Not in Vain (1957), Klempo (1958), H-8 (1958), The Eighth Door (1959), Happiness Comes at Nine (1961), Double Ring (1963), The Dawning (1964), and Indian Summer (1970).

Among these films, H-8 is looked upon with particular distinction as a result of the positive shock it gave audiences at the Pula Film Festival (it received every important festival award) since it signified a true turning point as a film with a modern theme realized at the level of the best European films of that time before the appearance of the New Wave.

However, the most valuable legacy left by Tanhofer to Croatian film is the result of his extensive teaching work. From the inception of the cinematography department at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1969, Tanhofer has, over the course of almost three decades, educated over one hundred cinematographers, who have contributed to the visual essence of Croatian film (and television). Another part of his pedagogical work is his comprehensive book Film Photography (1977), which has achieved cult status as a fundamental text for anyone who wishes to think in or express themselves in moving images.

Ivo Škrabalo

Filmography of Nikola Tanhofer 1947.-1981.

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