Battle Of Sutjeska
, 130min, eF
Following KOZARA (1962) and BITKA NA NERETVI (1969), SUTJESKA was the last of the three Yugoslavian official (i.e. state-commissioned & strictly supervised) partisan super-productions, and despite the fact that it never quite reached the popularity (or notoriety) of the first ones, it remains – in genre terms – by far the leanest and meanest example of a spectacular partisan narrative. The plot is a by-the-numbers rehash of the previous two epics. Once again, there is a group of vastly outnumbered, outgunned, and starved partisans, again led directly by Marshal Tito. Again, they are hiding across the mountainous wilds of occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, attempting to break out of the Axis siege. Again, they do not win, but instead suffer incredible losses running into the thousands, while managing to preserve their headquarters and finally escape. What separates SUTJESKA from the previous two films is the prevailing, suffocating atmosphere of gloom and doom. While the surviving partisans in KOZARA and BITKA NA NEREVI merrily march into future victories while singing at the end of each film, they silently drag their feet into an uncertain future here, devastated by their losses. Also of note is the brilliant widescreen cinematography by the finest Yugoslavian cinematographer Tomislav Pinter, the ominous score by Mikis Theodorakis, and the memorable appearance of Richard Burton as Tito.