Thursday, March 5, 2015

Farewell until the Next War

Nasvidenje v naslednji vojni; war/ drama, Slovenia, 1980; D: Živojin Pavlović, S: Metod Pevec, Boris Juh, Hans Christian Blech, Milan Puzić, Tanja Poberžnik

While on vacation in a Spanish city, an old Yugoslav, Berk, watches a bullfight: the wounded bull triggers memories of a wounded soldier in World War II. Berk meets a German gentleman, Bitter, and finds out they fought on the opposite sides in Yugoslavia during World War II. Berk remembers that time: he was a young student of medicine, and enlisted into Partisans to fight against the Totalitarian Nazi occupation. His best friend there was Anton, who fought in the Spanish civil war. However, Berk was suspicious of the Communist movement, as well, and lamented about them frequently. He witnessed death, pain and how Partisans shoot their own members for rebelling. After the war ended, Anton was killed by accident when Partisans cheered and shot randomly around them.

Sometimes mentioned as one the best films of Slovenian cinema of the 20th century, "Farewell until the Next War" is rather one of the most untypical Partisan films of the Yugoslav cinema, ostensibly a film about a young lad in a Partisan unit fighting in World War II, but who is in reality cynically mocking and criticizing the (pseudo)Communist party throughout the entire film, which is quite remarkable, thereby announcing the loosening of Yugoslav film censors. Directed by a Serb director, Zivojin Pavlovic - since it was a common practice in Yugoslavia that directors make films in different Republics - this is a quality, ambitious war film with quite an impressive level of production, noticeable in the impressive battle sequences, yet the unorthodox, "blasphemous" details for that genre stand out the most and break several cliches. For instance, protagonist Berk speaks with a fellow Partisan in a wan about this: "I am against Hitler and Mussolini, but I don't like that Stalin guy, either. I don't like the notion of a one-party system, in general." While several Partisans are celebrating, one of them has this exchange with Berk: "You know, this is a revolution! From now on, people will finally take destiny into their own hands! This is the birth of a new man!" - "Funny. I don't see any new men, just old ones." Anton and Berk also frequently joke in other areas: "I would rather be a bull than one of us. Because a bull at least has that one goal in life. And what goal do we have?" Several other details stand out, as well, such as one of the Partisan protagonists has sex with a local woman and is then later on seen unzipping his pants and rubbing his penis with water from a creek. Still, the film is too long by at least half an hour and drags heavily because we get the point fairly quickly, yet it goes on and on with just repetitive events, and the confusing ending does not help, either, which restrains the enjoyment value somewhat.


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