Ivo Skoric on Sun, 21 Apr 2002 12:39:02 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re-watching old movies

Re-watching old movies

Sjecas li se Doli Bel?
(Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, by Emir Kusturica, 1981, Venice 
film festival Golden Lion award winner)

Yesterday I watched again Kusturica’s first movie. Now, twenty 
years later, looking at it from far and beyond, it is really just a 
beautiful small dark comedy. There is humor in almost every scene 
of this film in which everybody smokes or is encouraged and 
prodded to smoke cigarettes - even in the scene of dying (of lung 
cancer?). That humor is neatly summarized in the film’s thematic 
slogan: “every day in every way we get better and better.” Kusturica 
earns merits for making fun of the ironies of life in the so-called 
communist society. The humor seems to be absent only from a 
very, very realistic scene of violence, in which Dolly Bell’s pimp 
beats up the main character.

Casual domestic violence is satirized. ‘Pater familias’ is portrayed 
as jovial, intelligent, street-smart old gent, and his slapping kids 
and shutting-up women around him is presented in a humorous 
way and with no trace of critique of the domestic violence issue. 
Violence in general is viewed fatalistic - as an inevitable and 
unchangeable fact of life. So, why don’t we just make fun of it and 
get on with our lives? 

Now, keeping in mind that ten years after that film was produced, 
the generation, that grew up watching it, got involved in some of the 
worst violence in the century, one cannot avoid asking whether 
such approach to the issue of violence in this and, perhaps, other 
films of that era, could contribute to the later popular acceptance of 
the concepts for violent social change in the region, or is that the 
same type of argument like saying that Hollywood films like The 
Fight Club cause the actual violence in the US society?


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