Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Scene of the Crash

Putovanje na mjesto nesreće; drama, Croatia, 1971; D: Zvonimir Berković, S: Ana Karić, Rade Šerbedžija, Emil Kutijaro, Nataša Maričić, Stevo Žigon

On his trip from Split to Zagreb, Vlatko encountered a car that stepped into his side of the road. In the ensuing chaos, the car crashed and fell to the beach. Luckily, the driver survived. Vlatko travels to Zagreb and meets the driver's wife, Jelena, but tells her that the driver does not want to see her in the hospital, because he has a mistress. Vlatko seduces the 10 years older Jelena, and she falls for him, until she seeks out her husband's mistress - and finds out that Vlatko tried to seduce her, as well, using Jelena's money. She breaks up with Vlatko who returns to driving his car.

"The Scene of the Crash" is an overall successful attempt at an early modern film in the Yugoslav cinema of the 70s: the opening scenes of the main protagonist (very good Rade Serbedzija) driving in his cabriolet along the highway on the Dalmatian coast is very 'cool' and reminiscent of Italian existential films from that era; the visual style is excellent, using a dynamic, movable camera that gives even ordinary scenes a sense for the aesthetic (old people sit at the table at the retirement home, and then the camera "flies" above them; the long intro where the camera follows Vlatko climbing up the stairs in the apartment block; the meadow scene, where the camera descends from a tree...) and reminds a lot of the style of director Parajanov whereas the "plot twist" near the end gives the storyline a different perspective and plays with the contemporary themes of an antihero, far from the simple love stories from the 50s. The first third is excellent, but unfortunately, director Zvonimir Berkovic does not know how to handle the remaining two thirds of the films, which are filled with monotone, long monologues, melodramatic scenes and too much empty walk, whereas the visual style cannot carry it all the time (despite a great little scene where Vlatko and Jelena are talking near the bank of the Sava, while a purple fog, floating above the river, is illuminated at nigh). It seems Berkovic did not know what he wanted to say at the (inconclusive) end, leaving the impression that the film would have been better as a short.


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