Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Magic Sword


Čudotvorni mač; Fantasy adventure, Serbia, 1950; D: Vojislav Nanović, S: Rade Marković, Vera Ilić-Đukić, Milivoje Živanović, Marko Ivanović, Mihajlo Bata Paskaljević, Pavle Vujisić

Middle Ages. Little boy Nebojša gets lost in the snowy forest while hunting with his grandfather Ivan. After entering a deserted castle, he gives water to a barrel after hearing a voice coming from it, and unwillingly unleashes the evil, invincible Baš Čelik from it. Over a decade later, Nebojša, now a young lad, marries his beloved Vida, but Baš Čelik shows up with his army, takes his bride away and puts him in the dungeon. After getting out, he goes on a quest to find a miraculous sword that can defeat the tyrant. Getting a horse from a witch, he wins the sword in a contest in some kingdom, returns back to his home, gathers an army, storms and kills Baš Čelik and frees Vida.

A Serbian version of "Excalibur", Vojislav Nanovic's sword and sorcery film "The Magic Sword" is one of those obscure movies that where lost in the sands of time, yet its competent tone and the fact that it is one of the rare examples of fantasy genre in the Yugoslav cinema, secured it cult status. Similarly like "Münchhausen", "Sword" uses a naive touch and manages to compensate its small budget through some neat tricks and improvisations (when a carp jumps out of the lake into Nebojša's hands, it is actually a reverse shot; a talking horse; the eponymous sword that can cut an anvil in half) but also relies on classic storytelling, achieved through inspiring acting, writing, 'good old school' directing and an occasional impressive camera take, like the opening sequence in the forest cowered by snow or the abandoned castle of the tyrant Bas Celik. One of the great little moments that engage the viewers is the one where Nebojsa is sitting with his girlfriend Vida on the meadow and she tells him about the tradition in her family - that when a girl turns 18, after the rooster crows three times, a wooer can ask the father for her daughter's hand in marriage - and then smiles and tells him: "I'm turning 18 tomorrow...Be at my place." All these little touches circle out a noble, elevated story about honor, love and courage.

Grade:+++

2 comments:

SIMERIJANAC said...

Where did you find this movie?
Can you please give me a link?

Marin Mandir said...

YouTube, of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjdMmpiOFyk