Friday, December 4, 2009

Walter Defends Sarajevo

Valter brani Sarajevo; War action, BiH, 1972; D: Hajrudin Krvavac, S: Velimir ‘Bata’ Živojinović, Rade Marković, Ljubiša Samardžić, Neda Spasojević, Pavle Vujisić

World War II is looming its end. Faced with heavy defeats in the war, the army of the Third Reich plans to move from Sarajevo to Višegrad in order to pick up enough fuel for a retreat from the occupied Yugoslavia. But for quite some time a resistance fighter, known only as Valter, has been causing them headaches. In order to stop him from endangering their operation, the Third Reich sends a spy, Conrad, who will play the fake Valter, gather enough partisans and their trust and ultimately lead them into a trap. But the courageous Valter isn’t fooled that easily – he and his two pals disguise themselves as a German train conductors, and ruin their plan by stealing and destroying the train.

“Walter Defends Sarajevo” surprisingly became one of the most popular films from the former Yugoslavia thanks to the fact that it was hugely popular in China, where it was re-run dozens of times on national television. The legendary scene where one Nazi officer asks the other one to finally show him who the mysterious Walter is, and he shows him the whole city of Sarajevo from a hill and tells him: “This is Walter!” was turned into such a famous viral video that it was edited and modified numerous times during the elections in some countries of the former Yugoslavia. But other than that legendary scene, there is little else to be shown in the rest of the film. It’s a standard cheap partisan film, which means propaganda that offers some good parts at best. Velimir ‘Bata’ Živojinović is good as the title hero, yet the only clever moment that his role offered was the one where he disguises himself in a Nazi uniform to fool the Nazi spy into telling him secret information, while the rest is just your run-of-the-mill cheap action and fighting that seems as if came from Bollywood. The stale story still has to be congratulated, though, for avoiding the black and white cliches about Germans and actually showing them realistically rational and human. Humourless, campy, overlong and amateurish, with some blunders that are too obvious (in one scene, you can see a woman in a short skirt, even though the story is suppose to be set during World War II) and a dated Yugoslav ideology, “Walter” is non-the-less still a solid partisan film that has charm, even if it was just based on pure nostalgia values, and a sweet harmonic score which is why it enjoys cult status.


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