Monday, May 12, 2008

We've finally watched Emir Kusturica's Zavet tonight. Although I prefer those of his films that make me both laugh and cry - Time of the Gypsies, Underground, Life Is a Miracle - I really enjoyed this one as well. It's funny in a silly way, perhaps somewhat sillier than his previous "funny" films. But what's really pleasing to realize is that Kusturica has managed to remain a prankster and a jester despite his involvement in the all-too-serious Serbian politics.

I keep thinking of Kusturica's friendship with Nikita Mikhalkov and keep comparing them: Kusturica shows up at the Moscow International Film Festival dressed like a bum, forcing Mikhalkov to run and get him a more presentable suit; judging by Kusturica's films (and his son's role in Zavet), he's not suffering from Mikahlkov's superiority complex; Kusturica has created what looks like a wonderful ethnic village, K├╝stendorf, while Mikhalkov has gotten himself a heavily guarded mansion with a budget-funded road leading up to it. All in all, I like Kusturica better. I wish we had someone like him in Ukraine.

Two Russia-related episodes in Zavet that I've found amusing and perplexing, considering the stance of the political force that Kusturica supports in Serbia:

In the first episode, the old man is watching an awards ceremony of some sports event, during which the Russian/Soviet anthem is playing. The old man is moved to tears - while his grandson is shown spying on the gorgeous tits of his teacher who is bathing outside. Multiple close-ups of the tits - and the anthem (to which Mikhalkov's father has composed the words, by the way, and not just once, but twice) as the accompaniment. Weird.

In the second episode, there's a brief sighting of a Lukoil gas station, followed by a mildly Tarantinoesque scene, in which one of the evil guys gets his balls chopped off by the old man's grandson. Too wild to be a product placement type of thing, I guess.


  1. I love Kusturica's movies! Black Cat, White Cat is one of my favorite movies ever and the only movie I ever went to watch at the movie theater twice. A while ago, Zavet was shown in Yerevan, but I found out only too late. I'll have to hunt the dvd down, I suppose.

  2. Thank you Neeka to remind me of Kusturica! In fact, I know only Black Cat, White Cat (unforgettable : especially the grand-dad's customized car and the look-out in the forest), and Arizona Dream. I never felt like watching Underground, I tend to retrieve back from such delirium about blackness and violence. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe combined with Kusturica's vitality and irony (and what we call in French "truculence"), violence is not even painful.
    And what about the Bregovich soundtrack? He is a star here.

    (I think I will hire a DVD during my next holiday! Why not Zavet?)