Production year: 1969
Duration: 175 minuta (izvorna verzija; njemačka, talijanska i verzija za englesko govorno područje skraćivane su u minutažom različite inačice)
At the beginning of 1943, German forces and their support, Italians, Ustashas and Chetniks, under the command of general Lohring, undertake a massive offensive against the Partisans and the National Liberation Army in Western Bosnia. The Partisans fight back heroically, advancing towards the bridge across river Neretva, which will take them to free territory. When the chief officer of the Supreme Command decided to demolish the bridge, everyone was shocked. However, it is not an act of madness. It is a canny scheme to fool the enemy forces on the opposite side of the river…
Ljubiša Samardžić (Novak), Silva Košćina (Danica), Lojze Rozman (Ivan), Boris Dvornik (Stipe), Sergej Bondarčuk (Martin), Franco Nero (captain Riva), Yul Brynner (Vlado), Curd Jürgens (general Lohring), Hardy Krüger (colonel Kränzer), Anthony Dawson (general Morelli), Velimir Bata Živojinović (Stole), Oleg Vidov (Nikola), Milena Dravić (Nada), Orson Welles (Chetnik senator), Fabijan Šovagović (crazy Boško), Pavle Vuisić (Jordan), Kole Angelovski (Žika), Špela Rozin (Vlado’s assistant), Charles Millot (Ðuka), Dragomir Felba (father), Stole Aranđelović (partisan without legs), etc.
Country of production:
Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia/Federative Republic of Germany (West Germany)/Italy
Ratko Ðurović, Stevan Bulajić, Veljko Bulajić, Ugo Pirro
Vladimir Kraus-Rajterić (za englesko govorno područje Bernard Herrmann)
Vojislav Bjenjaš, Roberto Perpignani
Dušan Jeričević, Vladimir Tadej
This is the most important film of a specific Yugoslav genre, the so-called partisan spectacles. Moreover, Bitka na Neretvi is the most expensive and best-selling film ever produced in the former Yugoslavia. Veljko Bulajić, the pioneer of this genre, managed to gather an impressive international cast and crew that, along with some favorable circumstances and Bulajić’s undeniable sense for marketing, played a major role in securing this film’s Oscar nomination in the category of Best Foreign Film. At the Pula film festival, Bitka na Neretvi was not part of the official program, which was left for the “mere mortals”, but, as an idealistic super-production, was instead shown as a special presentation. This is a panoramic film of the so-called “mosaic structure”, whose execution is quite chaotic. The events are laid out in an unclear manner, the characters are stereotypical (on the other hand, thanks to a cast of full-blooded actors they became more realistic), and the dialogue’s riddles in phraseology. The film’s function is to glorify the fighting and sacrifices of the Partisans, and in terms of meaningfulness, it remains very limited. However, the motifs of male comradeship (the pairs Martin - Riva, Kränzer - lieutenant Horst, Novak - Stipe) and heterosexual love (Ivan - Danica, Nikola - Nada) offer possibilities for intriguing interpretation (for example latent homosexuality or necrophilia, considering that all the above mentioned pairs have a tragic lethal note. Of course it is equally, if not more, possible that the author had a powerful understanding of the sublime tension that resides between the bright sense of hope offered by love, be it romantic or platonic, and the bleak sense of futility promised by a tragic death).
Other awards: Nis 1970 - Grand prix to Ljubisa Samardzic, Audiences’ award
Distributors’ Golden Screen (for 4,100,000 viewers in the film theatres)
Screening permit: from October 7, 1969
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