Branko Bauer

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Branko Bauer
Branko bauer.jpg
Born (1921-02-18)18 February 1921
Dubrovnik, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Died 11 April 2002(2002-04-11) (aged 81)
Zagreb, Croatia
Occupation Director, screenwriter
Years active 1953–1978

Branko Bauer (18 February 1921 – 11 April 2002[1]) was a Croatian film director. He is considered to be the leading figure of classical narrative cinema in Croatian and Yugoslav cinema of the 1950s.

Early life[edit]

Bauer became interested in cinema as a school boy. During World War Two he attended local cinemas in Zagreb, which were very popular during the Nazi occupation. His father Čedomir Bauer and he hide their Jewish tenant Ljerka Freiberger from the Ustashi police in 1942. As a result of these actions, Yad Vashem honored both of them as Righteous among the Nations in 1992.

In 1949, Branko began working in the Zagreb-based Jadran Film studio as a documentary filmmaker.[1] His feature debut was the 1953 children's adventure film The Blue Seagull (Sinji galeb) which distinguished his work from then-native Yugoslav productions through vivid visual style and natural acting.

Selected works[edit]

Don't Look Back, My Son[edit]

Bauer became one of the most respected directors in Yugoslavia after his third film, the 1956 war thriller Don't Look Back, My Son (Ne okreći se sine; released as Don't Turn Around, Son in the US). The film tells a story about a World War II resistance fighter who escapes a train en route to the Jasenovac concentration camp and returns to Zagreb in an attempt to find his son and join the partisans in the Croatian hinterland. However, he realises that his son is in an Ustaša boarding school and has been brainwashed. The hero manages to escapes the city with his son but throughout their journey he is forced to lie to his son about their actions. The film was loosely based on Carol Reed's thriller Odd Man Out, and its last scene - which inspired the title of the film - was inspired by Disney's film Bambi.

Three Girls Named Anna[edit]

Bauer's next film was the 1957 feature Only People (Samo ljudi), a melodrama influenced by films of Douglas Sirk. The film was a critical flop, mainly because melodrama was not considered a serious genre in 1950s communist Yugoslavia. After that film, Bauer worked for a Macedonian production company and made Three Girls Named Anna (Tri Ane; 1959), a film which is often compared to Umberto D. by Vittorio de Sica. Three Girls Named Anna tells a story of an old man who lives alone believing that his daughter was killed in World War II as a child. Suddenly the man receives information that she could have had survived and is now probably living as an adult in a foster family. The film was not successful at the time, but it is today often considered Bauer's best film. Bauer's next two films were more commercially successful - the 1961 comedy Martin in the Clouds (Martin u oblacima); and the 1962 film Superfluous (Prekobrojna, 1962), which introduced Milena Dravić as a future Yugoslav superstar.

Face to Face[edit]

Probably the best known of Bauer's films is the 1963 feature Face to Face (Licem u lice), a film which is considered to be the first Yugoslav political film. It tells a story about a rebel worker who challenges a manager during a communist party meeting in a huge construction company. Although it was initially seen as controversial due to its political content, the film eventually received support by communist officials, which was understood among filmmakers as a green light for more overt depictions of socially controversial topics. Serbian director Živojin Pavlović wrote in the early 1960s that Face to Face had been "the most important film ever shot in Yugoslavia".[citation needed]

Late career[edit]

During the 1960s, Yugoslav films shifted to modernism, and Bauer couldn't accommodate to an auteur cinema. In the 1960s he made two unsuccessful modernist films, and finally shifted to television directing. During the 1970s, he directed the TV series Salaš u malom ritu (1976), a war drama set in Vojvodina, one of the most memorable works of Yugoslav television.

Critical reception[edit]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Bauer was regarded as a master of Yugoslav cinema and commanded respect from the government and his colleagues alike. Although his films never questioned the regime, the dominant set of values in these films was described as "old-fashioned" and "bourgeois": instead of the usual glorification of youth and revolution his films often praised the decent, old, middle-class type of families. Bauer's typical heroes made the right moral choices not inspired by ideology but driven by a sense of honor instead. Contemporary Croatian filmmaker Hrvoje Hribar once wrote that "Bauer found himself in a blind spot of communism, a place where ideology was as close as possible, but therefore least influential." However, by the late 1960s and 1970s Bauer was almost forgotten.

In the late 1970s his works were rediscovered by young critics as a kind of a Yugoslav version of old Hollywood masters. Slovenian film historian Stojan Pelko wrote in the British Film Institute's Encyclopedia of Russian and Eastern European Cinema that "Bauer was for Yugoslav critics what Hawks and Ford were for French New Wave critics". A substantial critical reevaluation of Bauer's work took place since the mid-1980s. In a late 1990s critics' poll of all-time greatest Croatian film directors, Bauer took second place, behind Krešo Golik.[2]

Filmography (as director)[edit]


  1. ^ a b Branko Bauer profile at
  2. ^ Kragić 2007, p. 531


External links[edit]