“I know where you’re going. To see that whore!”
Today I would like to take you back in time. Back to 1995. That was when Emir Kusturica, the Bosnian director, released Underground
. The film tells the story of two friends-members of the Communist Party, Marko and Blacky, who spend their lives drinking, dancing and having fun in Belgrade of the 1940’s. The Nazi invasion of 1941 disrupts the lives of the two friends in a dramatic fashion. Blacky takes refuge in an underground bunker in order to continue the resistance during the German occupation, while Marko goes on to become one of the leaders of the Party and claim the woman they both loved, Natalja. This fits perfectly with Marko’s plans to dominate the Party and keep Natalja for himself, while his friend is locked up in a basement, making weapons ‘for the cause’ long after the war has ended. Fate makes it so that Blacky emerges from his hole in the 1990’s, during the war which tore Yugoslavia apart. And he wants revenge…
Kusturica tells the story of Yugoslavia like a modern combination of Homer and Dante. While the background of the story is unmistakably political, the foreground is dominated by people, their desires, their faults, their envies and weaknesses. This is all woven with the yarn of Goran Bregovic’s gypsy music (a dominant theme in many Kusturica films). In fact, the film soundtrack is a hit in its own right. Allegory is interchanged with harsh reality: dancing, singing, sex, love, hate, comedy and tragedy all become one; they become a force which tore the country to shreds. Kusturica’s Underground, is a film which combines light-hearted comedy with deep tragedy, an emotional rollercoaster which captures 1990’s Yugoslavia. The events of the past 60 years or so have become fertile ground for many ex-Yugoslav directors and artists. Out of the tragedy springs art.