This is a film of some historical interest, as it was a patriotic film made for Croatians during the time of their conflicts with Serbia/Yugoslavia in the early '90s. It was so important to the war effort and the morale of the Croatian people that special screenings were arranged in underground shelter which were well-attended even while bombing was going on. Marja (Nada Gacesic-Livakovic) and her teenaged son Darko (Zvonimir Novosel) are forced to flee their home village when the Serbian Cetniks come in, and they settle into life in a town. Marja even finds a job at the hospital, and Darko embarks on his first romance with a girl who has been orphaned by the war. One evening Marja comes home to find that Darko is missing: he has joined the Croat resistance. Later, in a moving scene, she receives his body and travels with it by cart over the countryside to a burial spot. One further note of interest is that this film was directed by Oja Kodar, who was famed director Orson Welles' last companion and a colleage in his filmmaking efforts. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide
"Many lucrative international co-productions (Karl May Westerns or partisan films, above all "Sutjeska", 1972 with Richard Burton as Tito and Orson Welles in a supporting role) served to promote tourism as well as the ideological doctrines of the state. These times are long gone
Croatia has reasons to both welcome and fear co-productions. On the positive side, co-productions were once very lucrative business for Croatia. Western money poured into Yugoslavia through the once-respected Jadranfilm production company, with international producers taking advantage of good technical facilities at significantly lower costs. The international dialogue that occurred through such co-productions was fruitful in the creative sense as well as the financial one: it enabled Yugoslav actors to work with international directors and Western actors to bring their reputation to Yugoslav films (most famously Richard Burton playing the role of Tito and Orson Welles in Stipe Deli's Sutjeska/The Fifth Offensive, 1973).
War changed all that. Contacts were lost, and in the 1990s other formerly closed countries opened up to international production companies.
The danger with international co-productions is that, while directors may be sensitive to their own environment and the minutiae of behavioural details of the people within it, frequently they are insensitive to what makes people tick in other parts of the world and have no ear for the subtleties of how they speak there. Indeed, Eurimages co-productions have been criticised for producing exactly this kind of bland international hotchpotch, portraying a cross-cultural no man's land that doesn't correspond to any real time or place or how people acted in it.
WHELDON: Why did you shoot so much of the film in Yugoslavia?
WELLES: It seems to me that the story we're dealing with is said to take place "anywhere". But of course there is no "anywhere." When people say that this story can happen anywhere, you must know what part of the globe it really began in. Now Kafka is central European and so to find a middle Europe, some place that had inherited something of the Austro-Hungarian empire to which Kafka reacted, I went to Zagreb. I couldn't go to Czechoslovakia because his books aren't even printed there. His writing is still banished there.
WHELDON: Would you have gone to Czechoslovakia, were you able?
WELLES: Yes, I never stopped thinking that we were in Czechoslovakia. As in all of Kafka, it's supposed to be Czechoslovakia. The last shot was in Zagreb, which has old streets that look very much like Prague. But you see, capturing that flavor of a modern European city, yet with it's roots in the Austro-Hungarian empire wasn't the only reason why we shot in Yugoslavia. The other reason was that we had a big industrial fair to shoot in. We used enormous buildings, much bigger than any film studio. There was one scene in the film where we needed to fit fifteen hundred desks into a single building space and there was no film studio in France or Britain that could hold fifteen hundred desks. The big industrial fair grounds that we found in Zagreb made that possible. So we had both that rather sleazy modern, which is a part of the style of the film, and these curious decayed roots that ran right down into the dark heart of the 19th century.
Welles may have shot his scenes as Sir Winston Churchill for SUTJESKA but these probably ended up on the cutting room floor.
As it did with many men, Hayden's wartime experience changed his life in unforeseen ways. As a wartime gun-runner, he formed many friendships with the people of Yugoslavia and became sympathetic to the form of Communism they embraced. He attended some meetings after returning home, which flagged him for the special attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Hayden was was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee for investigation and, to his everlasting shame, he cooperated -- naming names. Here his life, as he knew it, begins to disintegrate.
After giving his testimony, Hayden found it impossible to forgive himself, just as many of his colleagues in the film business found it impossible to forgive him.
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