Battle of Neretva (film)

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Battle of Neretva
Battle of Neretva poster.jpg
US film poster
Directed byVeljko Bulajić
Screenplay byRatko Djurović
Stevan Bulajić
Veljko Bulajić
Ugo Pirro
English Version:
Alfred Hayes
Story byStevan Bulajic
Ratko Djurovic
Produced bySteve Previn
StarringYul Brynner
Sergei Bondarchuk
Curd Jürgens
Sylva Koscina
Hardy Krüger
Franco Nero
Orson Welles
CinematographyTomislav Pinter
Edited byVojislav Bjenjas
Music byVladimir Kraus-Rajteric
English Version:
Bernard Herrmann
Color processTechnicolor
Bosna Film
Jadran Film
Kinema Sarajevo
Radna Zajednica Filma
Igor Film
Commonwealth United Entertainment
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures (US)
Release date
  • 7 October 1969 (1969-10-07)
Running time
175 minutes
126 minutes (English Version)
West Germany
United States[1]
Budget$12 million

Battle of Neretva (Serbo-Croatian: Bitka na Neretvi, Битка на Неретви) is a 1969 Yugoslavian epic partisan film. Written by Stevan Bulajić and Veljko Bulajić, and directed by Veljko Bulajić, it is based on the true events of World War II. The Battle of the Neretva was due to a strategic plan for a combined Axis powers attack in 1943 against the Yugoslav Partisans. The plan was also known as the Fourth Enemy Offensive and occurred in the area of the Neretva river in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Battle of Neretva is the most expensive motion picture made in the SFR Yugoslavia.[2] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film,[3] the year after Sergei Bondarchuk (playing the role of Martin in Neretva) won the honour for War and Peace. The score for the English-speaking versions was composed by Bernard Herrmann. Its soundtrack was released by Entr'acte Recording Society in 1974. It was re-released on Southern Cross Records on CD.

One of the original posters for the English version of the movie was made by Pablo Picasso, which, according to Bulajić, the famous painter agreed to do without monetary payment, only requesting a case of the best Yugoslav wines.[4]



Bridge on the Neretva river, built and twice-destroyed during the shooting of the film.

Battle of Neretva was the first of a series of huge state-sponsored World War II film productions. It had a staggering budget approved by Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. Different sources put it anywhere between $4.5 million and $12 million. Global stars such as Sergei Bondarchuk, Yul Brynner, Franco Nero, Orson Welles, etc. flocked to communist Yugoslavia attracted by the huge sums of money being offered.

Shot over 16 months with funds put up in largest part by over 58 self-managed companies in Yugoslavia, the movie featured a combined battalion of 10,000 Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) soldiers. Four villages and a fortress were constructed for the film and destroyed. Several JNA-inventory Soviet T-34 tanks, touched up to look like German Panzers, met the same fate. Even used several Yugoslavian planes Soko 522 like germans luftwaffe planes with Balkenkreuz on the wings.

A railway bridge over the Neretva in Jablanica was destroyed. Director Bulajić's justification for demolishing the bridge rather than getting the shots in studio was that it would become a tourist attraction. The bridge was thus blown but because none of the footage was usable due to the billowing smoke that made it impossible to see anything, it was decided that the bridge should be repaired and destroyed again. The problem with the excessive smoke occurred again and the scenes of the bridge being blown up in the film were shot using a table-size replica at a sound stage in Prague.[4] The Yugoslav public was updated on the shooting progress via pieces in the country's print media.[5][6]


Sergei Bondarchuk and Orson Welles at the premiere in Sarajevo on 29 November 1969.

In 1999, a poll of Croatian film fans found it to be one of the best Yugoslavian films ever made.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hughes, Howard (30 April 2011). Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857730442. Retrieved 9 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Bitka na Neretvi (in Croatian)
  3. ^ "The 42nd Academy Awards (1970) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  4. ^ a b Robna kuća: Bitka na Neretvi on YouTube[dead link]
  5. ^ Glumci na služenju vojske!;Plavi vjesnik, July 1968
  6. ^ Najveći honorari Bati i Ljubiši!;Plavi vjesnik, July 1968
  7. ^ ""Tko pjeva, zlo ne misli" najbolji hrvatski film svih vremena!". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 1999-11-28. Retrieved 2013-02-08.

External links[edit]