Sunday, January 3, 2010

"ST GEORGE SHOOTS THE DRAGON" SERBIAN CANDIDATE FOR 2010 OSCARS

"St. George Shoots the Dragon" is Serbia's official candidate for 82nd Academy Award's Foreign Language movie in 2010. This magnificent anti-war drama set in WW1, one of the most expensive Serbian films ever, describes Serbian mentality and history in a metaphorical way using complex sets, stunning landscapes, flawless costumes and make up, rich cinematography, emotional music scores, profound acting and a haunting conclusion at the end of the movie.
The movie starts with a battle against the Turks during the First Balkan War in 1912 and ends with the outbreak of WWI in 1914 and the crucial Battle of Cer, the first allied victory in WWI. It is largely set in and around a small village at Serbia's border with Austria-Hungary. The village is divided between able-bodied men that are potential army recruits and the many invalid veterans from the previous wars and there is bitter animosity between the two groups, which don't intermingle much with each other even though they live in the same village.

The central theme of the movie is a love triangle between the village gendarme Đorđe, his wife Katarina and the young war cripple Gavrilo who once had a love affair with Katarina before he went to war and lost his arm in battle. Even though Katarina married Đorđe in the meantime, she still has affection for Gavrilo, which is a source of friction between the two.

On the onset of World War I, all able-bodied men in the village are recruited for combat. Left in the village are only women, children and invalids from previous wars. Rumours start circulating that the invalids in the village are trying to take advantage of the situation by making their moves on the women in the village - the wives and sisters of the recruited men. These rumours reach the villagers at the frontlines, and in order to prevent mutiny the army staff decides to recruit the invalids as well and send them to the front line.

8 comments:

  1. I don't like war dramas, so I don't plan on seeing this one. I'm looking for entertainment in movies. I don't like to be depressed after seeing a fictional story. It feels stupid to me, to ruin my mood over something like that. There are plenty of chances for that in real life. I don't need any more on top of those.
    That said, this movie is probably done right in its genre.

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  2. I'm a bit sad, Belsy, again none of our American friends has decided to comment on a post about non-American movie :((( My mission to introduce them to Serbian movies proves unsuccessful again :(

    And now about the movie. I think you should give it a try, if nothing else it was the third most expensive Serbian movie ever, and Miljen Kreka Kljkaovic's sets and production design really are worth seeing (even though he abandoned the shooting because, according to rumors, he wasn't paid enough). Although I usually say that young Serbian actors are horrible and tragically non-talented, almost all performances in ST. GEORGE are amazing and deeply profound, even beautiful Natasa Janjic menages to bring a good role, not ruining the movie like Katarina Radivojevic did in TEARS FOR SALE or CARLSTON ZA OGNJENKU. Basically the only bad performance in ST. GEORGE is the one given by young Milutin Milosevic who plays the lead male role beside Laza Ristovski (who was good in the movie, although he could've been a bit better himself). Milutin's performance is stiff and superficial and quite amateurish, but when I come to think how hyper overrated Sergej Trifunovic was supposed to play the role originally, but he lost it somehow, I feel better :))
    Goran Jevtic brings a stunning and deeply haunting performance as always (even though his role is very very short). I think he's the best young actor in Serbia, his talent is deeply touching.
    Bels, you would like the sets, music, cinematography ....
    The main problem with the movie is that it's weaker in the first part (which, sadly, lasts almost 90 minutes) which describes the love triangle and the life in village, but the last 30 minutes of the movie are very rememberable and impressive, dealing with the war itself, the absurdity and bizarre chaos and mayhem of war and battles. That part ends with the most amazing movie finale with at least three profound dramatic twists which are really worth seeing, because you really don't see such things in Hollywood movies.
    Although I never liked the guy, Branislav Lecic gives the best performance of his career in those last scenes in the movie, as the general of the brave Serbian army.

    Now, it is true, that the movie got some lukewarm critics and reviews in Serbia, because we are simply sick of our nation being presented in such a dark way, and plus Srdjan Dragojevic, the director, had ginormous financial problems, so he didn't finish the project in the way he probably wanted to. But foreign critics are mostly amazed by the movie, and they gave splendid and excellent reviews to ST. GEORGE. If this movie had been shot in AMerica with some big actors, I can bet it would have received a huge amount of Oscars and it would have been proclaimed a movie of the decade.

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  3. I am sorry I am late to comment! I haven't been making the blog rounds daily. But I marked this post to come back to because it intrigued me. The trailer does appear dark, but I am intensely interested in Serbia's history. It looks very interesting and I wonder how it will do at the Oscars. I'm not sure what I think of the lead female, but the other roles seem worth watching. Thank you for showing me something new!

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  4. it is a dark movie, because as you know WW1 was the darkest possible event, and Serbia lost almost a quarter of its citizens in the war, mostly men and young people (after the war it was basically a land without men), but Serbia also stood up against Austria and Hungary and brought first victories in the WW1 to the allies. It took many many years for Serbia to recover after the war, only to be devastated again by WW2 which also put Serbia against Germany and Hungary, and brought millions of casualties. Beside talking about all those troubles, this movie also shows the main problem of Serbian mentality - the constant inner division.

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  5. I am more learned already. And Serbia is most interesting. What a conflicted time, place and people.

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  6. You are always lost in a conflicted time, place, dimension ... when you live in a country which represents a rampart between west and east, lost and torn for centuries between opposing cultures and religions, which is both its strength and weakness.

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  7. without further a do : I am going to watch this movie,the second i get the chance,i sympathize wwith all the former remarks,have my friends in Serbia and i dare to say,a fuller picture of the centuries mayhem for Serbian-history is never black and white,and i started to have an interest for the culture and history 15 years ago..and i have friends for life there now and it have grown into a more complete picture of this complex culture that i cherish so much :-)

    It is a bit American in its approach to movie making,and what works visually but so is every movie made today that isn´t low budget :-D Still..i am eager to see the movie..

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  8. thanks for your comment, LP! The film was actually one of the most expensive ones in Serbia's history, but the budget was extremely low for Western standards, which just proves how you can make epic films with almost no money too :)
    You should check out another two recent Serbian films, TEARS FOR SALE, one of our biggest blockbuster in recent decade and MONTE VIDEO GOD BLESS YOU, which is this year's Serbian candidate for Foreign Film Oscar.

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GIVE SOME LOVE TO YOUR DEZZY :)