Partisan film (Serbo-Croatian: Partizanski film) is the name for a subgenre of war films, made in FPR/SFR Yugoslavia during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In the broadest sense, main characteristics of partisan films are that they are set in Yugoslavia during World War II and have Yugoslav Partisans as main protagonists, while antagonists are Axis forces and their collaborators.
Definition and scope
There are disagreements, even among the film critics, about the exact definition of the genre. Partisan films are often equated solely with the populist, entertainment-oriented branch of the genre, characterized by epic scope, ensemble casts, expensive production, and emotionally intense scenes, all introduced into Yugoslav war films by Veljko Bulajić's Kozara (1962). The other branch – much less interesting to the Communist establishment – was represented by modernist films, ranging from the poetic naturalism of the Yugoslav Black Wave to experimental stream-of-consciousness films.
By the 1980s, economic hardship in the country, as well as change in the ideological landscape, particularly with the younger Yugoslav generation, caused a waning of interest in the genre, and the critical and commercial failure of Bulajić's Great Transport (1983) is usually seen as a symbolic end of the partisan film era.
- Focus on crucial, well-known, "textbook" examples of Partisan struggle, such as major battles and operations, which are then given an officially sanctioned interpretation.
- Absence of authentic, high-profile figures of Partisan struggle, with the exception of Josip Broz Tito. In Pavičić's view, the rationale for this was to avoid threatening Tito's cult of personality.
- Mosaic structure in which sometimes dozens of characters take part, and their fate is followed throughout the film. These characters represent different classes or walks of life (intellectuals, peasants), or different ethnicities.
- Mixing of the comic with the tragic.
- The presence of foreign (non-Yugoslav) characters as arbiters. Their role is to witness and verify the martyrdom and heroism of Yugoslav peoples as Partisan films depict them, sending a symbolical message ("There it is, the world acknowledges us as we are").
- The characteristic treatment of the Germans: although they are portrayed as villains, and are demonized in various ways, they are also shown to be superior in power and discipline, and are depicted as an efficient, sophisticated, even glamorous adversary.
- Deus ex machina endings, in which the Partisans break out of seemingly hopeless situations.
Pavičić's analysis was criticized for not being universally applicable to Partisan films, and a number of notable exceptions to the above formula were provided.
- Kozara (1962, directed by Veljko Bulajić)
- The Raid on Drvar (1963, directed by Fadil Hadžić)
- Nikoletina Bursać (1964, directed by Branko Bauer)
- Eagles Fly Early (1966, directed by Soja Jovanović)
- The Demolition Squad (Diverzanti) (1967, directed by Hajrudin Krvavac)
- Operation Belgrade (1968, directed by Žika Mitrović)
- Battle of Neretva (1969, directed by Veljko Bulajić, nominated for Oscar) - starring Yul Brynner
- The Bridge (Most) (1969, directed by Hajrudin Krvavac)
- When You Hear the Bells (1969, directed by Antun Vrdoljak)
- The Pine Tree in the Mountain (1971, directed by Antun Vrdoljak)
- Walter Defends Sarajevo (1972, directed by Hajrudin Krvavac)
- The Battle of Sutjeska (1973, directed by Stipe Delić) - starring Richard Burton
- Bombaši (1973, directed by Predrag Golubović)
- Guns of War (1974, directed by Žika Mitrović)
- Crveni udar (1974, directed by Predrag Golubović)
- Doktor Mladen (1975, directed by Midhat Mutapdžić)
- The Peaks of Zelengora (1976, directed by Zdravko Velimirović)
- Maiden Bridge (1976, directed by Miomir Stamenković)
- Battle for the Railway (1978, directed by Zdravko Velimirović)
- Boško Buha (1978, directed by Branko Bauer)
- The Partisan Squadron or Battle of Eagles (1979, directed by Hajrudin Krvavac)
- 13th of July (1982, directed by Radomir Saranović)
- Great Transport (1983, directed by Veljko Bulajić)
- The Igman March (1983, directed by Zdravko Šotra)
Notable television series
- Cabric, Nemanja (10 August 2012). "Documentary Tells Story of the 'Walter Myth'". balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Premec, Tina (8 February 2011). "Kultni film 'Valter brani Sarajevo' dobiva remake u seriji od 30 nastavaka". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Pavičić, Jurica (11 November 2009). "Vrdoljak je radio najbolje partizanske filmove". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- "Kozara". Baza HR kinematografije (in Croatian). Croatian Film Association. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
- Šakić, Tomislav (2010). "Opsada, Branko Marjanović, 1956". subversivefilmfestival.com (in Croatian). Subversive Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Pavičić 2016, pp. 61–62.
- Pavičić 2003, pp. 13–14
- Jovanović 2011, pp. 51–54
- Jugoslavenski špageti-vesterni: propaganda i nostalgija (in Croatian)
- Partizanski film je naša kulturna baština (in Serbian)
- Partizanski film i strip...ili priča o sađenju limuna u Sibiru (in Croatian)
- Pavičić, Jurica (June 2003). "Igrani filmovi Fadila Hadžića" (PDF). Hrvatski filmski ljetopis (in Croatian) (34): 3–38. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- Pavičić, Jurica (2016). "Titoist Cathedrals: The Rise and Fall of Partisan Film". In Ognjenović, Gorana; Jozelić, Jasna (eds.). Titoism, Self-Determination, Nationalism, Cultural Memory: Volume Two, Tito's Yugoslavia, Stories Untold (1st ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/978-1137597472. ISBN 978-1137597458.
- Jovanović, Nebojša (2011). "Fadil Hadžić u optici totalitarne paradigme". Hrvatski filmski ljetopis (in Croatian) (65–66): 47–59. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- Trifković, Gaj (2011). "In a Search for a Good German". Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies. 5 (1): 77–86.
- Jakiša, Miranda; Gilić, Nikica, eds. (2015). Partisans in Yugoslavia: Literature, Film and Visual Culture. Transcript Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8376-2522-6.
- Miranda Jakiša i Nikica Gilić: Partizanska umjetnost samooslobođenja (in Croatian)
- Nikica Gilić: Hrvatski film je raskinuo s partizanskim (in Croatian)