, 124min, skrOmeU
Croatian-Montenegrin Veljko Bulajić is the closest Yugoslavian cinema ever came to a court director, even though his diverse body of work is not in fact exclusively composed of state-sanctioned propaganda, and feels more affiliated to the critical intelligentsia behind the Yugoslavian New Wave of the 1960s today. KOZARA, his pioneering fourth feature, represents a complex and precise blueprint for the newly established genre of the official partisan epic spectacle that Bulajić would perfect seven years later with BITKA NA NERETVI. KOZARA claims to be an accurate depiction of the notorious and bloody Kozara offensive that pitted almost 40,000 well-armed soldiers of the Third Reich (Germans, Ustashe, Chetniks) against only 3,000 partisans, who were trapped on the mountain of Kozara along with some 60,000 local civilians whose villages had been razed to the ground by the Axis powers. The partisans need to break through the siege, while at the same time care for the refugees who seek their protection. Bulajić does a spectacular job in directing the movements of the masses – people, animals, and the machines of death –, and while the main protagonists of the film are clearly the suffering nation and the concept of martyrdom, he nevertheless manages to outline several individual characters and fates. The brave and fatal gesture of superstar Milena Dravić (“I am a communist”) is the Yugoslavian equivalent of the “I am Spartacus” moment, and KOZARA definitely deserved the Golden Arena for best film of 1962.