The Wounds

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The Wounds
The Wounds.jpg
Directed by Srđan Dragojević
Produced by Dragan Bjelogrlić
Milko Josifov
Igor Živković
Written by Srđan Dragojević
Starring Dušan Pekić
Milan Marić
Dragan Bjelogrlić
Branka Katić
Vesna Trivalić
Music by Aleksandar Habić
Cinematography Dušan Joksimović
Edited by Petar Marković
Production
company
RTS
Cobra Films
Release date
15 May 1998 (FR Yugoslavia)
Running time
103 min.
Country FR Yugoslavia
Language Serbian
Budget $800,000[1]

The Wounds (Serbian: Ране, Rane) is a 1998 Serbian drama film written and directed by Srđan Dragojević.

It depicts the violent lives of two boys in Belgrade as they aspire to make names for themselves in the city's underworld. The story takes place throughout the 1990s, against the backdrop of Yugoslav Wars and growing ethnic hatred.

The film won a Bronze Horse at the Stockholm International Film Festival and a FIPRESCI Prize at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, "For its powerful, dramatic depiction of the brutal reality and complexity of life in the Balkans today."[2]

Plot[edit]

Rane's opening sequence announces it as being "dedicated to the generations born after Tito". The film follows the fate of two boys, Pinki and Švaba, growing up in Novi Beograd during the Yugoslav Wars period (1991–96).

Pinki was born on 4 May 1980, the day Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito died, and was given his unusual name by his father Stojan Mučibabić, an idealistic, impulsive, and patriotic officer of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) who is deeply devoted to communist ideals and Marshal Tito. Father's first choice for his firstborn's name was actually Tito, but the officials at the municipal office thought it provocative and inappropriate in the time of grieving so he eventually settled on Pinki after local communist Partisan fighter. Meanwhile, Pinki's best friend Švaba is raised and cared for only by his grandmother, a Croatian Serb who fled to Serbia during World War II after persecution from the Croatian fascist movement Ustaše.

Living in the block of apartment buildings in Novi Beograd's neighbourhood of Paviljoni, both kids are extremely juvenile, though Pinki is a bit more thoughtful and articulate while Švaba is moody, impulsive, and prone to anger outbursts. The duo also has another friend in the neighbourhood — Dijabola, an eager, geeky, and bespectacled outsider whose sexy and aloof mother Lidija is a well-known television host. Though they hang out with him, Pinki and Švaba mostly treat Dijabola badly. He is constantly the butt of their insults and occasionally even gets beaten up by them.

The story begins in the late summer of 1991 as the kids watch Serbian troops (regular JNA troops and various volunteer militias) going off to war in neighbouring Croatia where the Battle of Vukovar is raging. Pinki's father Stojan is extremely frustrated about being forced into early retirement by the JNA army and thus missing the chance to go to war. He spends his days glued to the television set, watching news reports from Vukovar and cheering on the JNA. By now he has transformed into a nationalist and has become extremely irritable, getting into petty quarrels with neighbours and venting his anger along the ethnic and political lines. He has also found a new idol - instead of Tito he's now a huge supporter of Slobodan Milošević. Pinki, for his part, is mostly oblivious to the events around him as he spends most of his time compulsively masturbating.

By 1992 and 1993, Serbia is under a UN trade embargo, and the war has spread from Croatia to Bosnia as well. Entering their early teens, Pinki, Švaba and Dijabola begin their fascination with a neighbour across the street Kure who drives a nice car, makes regular robbing excursions to Germany while dating a trashy kafana singer. They're deeply impressed with his swagger and lifestyle and are ecstatic one day when he invites them to unload his car that's full of stuff he brought over from Germany. In fact, he sends Dijabola away and picks only Švaba, but then upon Švaba's suggestion tells Pinki to come along as well.

Like many of their peers, Pinki and Švaba enter the world of crime at fourteen years of age in an ex-communist community that is in hyper-transition, which, because of war and sanctions, reminds the two friends of a theater of the absurd. The idols of the main characters are famous Belgrade gangsters and a TV show called Puls Asfalta (Pulse of the Asphalt) which features criminals and turns them into media stars. Pinki and Švaba fantasize of being on the show one day and they attempt to be noticed by its producers by committing crimes. After they succeed in establishing themselves as influential criminals and drug dealers, their uprising in the world of crime is cut by mutual conflict as both start having sex with Lidija. Švaba shoots Pinki five times in the same places that Jesus was wounded two thousand years ago. Pinki manages to survive and after some time he escapes from the hospital, and calls his friend to make peace. The truce is more than terrible, as the wounded boy has, after an unwritten rule, to inflict five identical wounds to his friend, so the friendship can be rebuilt. After shooting Švaba three times, he considers wounding him one more time instead of the required two. They are suddenly interrupted by a furious Dijabola who shoots at them, especially Švaba, for killing his mother. A shootout occurs and Švaba and Dijabola are killed. In the end, Pinki, who is wounded and is lying on the ground, laughs at the audience by claiming that he "made out better than you."

Cast[edit]

. .

Production[edit]

Following the success of his previous film Lepa sela lepo gore, Dragojević signed with the William Morris Agency and was in advanced talks throughout late summer and early fall 1996 about moving to Hollywood. Meanwhile, back home in Serbia he had two film ideas in the early stages of development — the epic World War I story St. George Slays the Dragon and a smaller film based on the television news report about two teenage criminals in contemporary Belgrade — both of which his Serbian producers, Cobra Film owned by the Bjelogrlić brothers (Goran and Dragan), wanted him to do before potentially going to America. In the end, after going through several Hollywood meetings during which he reportedly got offered scripts that he found "execrable",[3] Dragojević decided not to move to America, choosing instead to do the smaller of the two films in Serbia.

The story is built around a real-life occurrence depicted in a 1994 episode of Tragač, television series hosted and produced by Predrag Jeremić that aired on RTV Studio B, about Mirko "Beša" Bešević and Marko "Kameni" Pejković — two criminally-involved Belgrade adolescents who started out as friends before turning on one another.[4] In a fit of anger one youth shot the other five times, but the wounded youth survived and recovered. Later, attempting to 'repair' their friendship, the shooter offered his recovered friend to shoot him five times in the exact body parts in order to get even. The recovered victim accepted the offer and shot his assailant back five times before they resumed their friendship.[5] Dragojević was reportedly told of this by friends and eventually decided to write a screenplay around it. He claims to have purposely avoided actually watching the TV report because he didn't want to have his writing, casting, and directorial decisions subconsciously influenced by images or language in it. After finally seeing the report upon film's completion, Dragojević said he was amazed with the visual and behavioural similarities between the two sets of teens.[5]

Dragojević cast Dušan Pekić for the lead role of Pinki, selecting him from 5,000 youths who auditioned for the role, noting that Pekić shared a similar background with character Pinki.[6] The film proved to be Pekić's first and only role, as he died in 2000.[7]

The filming began in fall 1997 and had 78 shooting days.[8]

The film's was funded in large part by the state institutions such as the state-run broadcaster RTS. Among its corporate sponsors, the movie's closing credits also list the McDonald's Corporation and Fruit of the Loom.

Release and reaction[edit]

As Rane was going into theatrical release, the film's director, Srđan Dragojević, put out an accompanying statement explaining his personal motivation to revisit the subject of Yugoslav Wars, this time from the perspective of those living behind the frontlines. In it he directly accused the Milošević administration of forcing the young people of Serbia to grow up in the country flooded by the wave of primitivism and nationalism where those who went through puberty while Vukovar and Sarajevo were being destroyed have been made the terrible victims whose wounds will never heal: "This is a story about young criminals whom I believe have a deep moral right to be violent, even to murder, despite the political unacceptability of this idea. An insensitive society and a totalitarian Serbian regime have made thousands of Serbian teenagers dangerous, senseless killing machines, ironically whose main victims are themselves".[9]

The film was released in FR Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in May 1998 where it became a cinema hit with 450,000 admission tickets sold[10] despite its promotional cycle in the country being severely impacted by the government's refusal to run the film's ads on state television RTS (then under general manager Dragoljub Milanović). The authorities had been dissatisfied with the country's bleak portrayal in the film.[11] Talking to the Serbian edition of Playboy in 2004, the movie's producer Dragan Bjelogrlić said the following:

In January 2014, as guest on Veče sa Ivanom Ivanovićem, Bjelogrlić expanded on the problem Rane had with Serbian authorities back in 1998.

Starting in April 1999, the film began a theatrical distribution in Croatia thus becoming the first Serbian film in the post-Yugoslav Wars era to have distribution in that country. Another curiosity of its release in Croatia was the fact that it was subtitled. Even its title was translated from Rane to Ozljede, all of which became subject of much outrage[15] and ridicule.[16][17] It became a hit in the cinemas regardless, selling more than 40,000 admission tickets (~42,000) in Croatia.

Looking back on his acting career, in February 2012, Bjelogrlić brought up the role of Čika Kure as being one of the dearest to him, but also revealed a later personal realization that he "could've done a much better job portraying it".[18]

Critical reception[edit]

United States[edit]

Amy Taubin of The Village Voice finds Rane's pace to be erratic and frequently frantic, seeing its final scene as having "a relentless, demented logic of its own" while noting "there's nothing gratuitous about the violence of Dragojević's cinematic language". She further remarks that the movie's imagery is "a bit too invested in martyrdom" representing "a politicized and catholicized version of live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse" before she detects "a touch of Holden Caulfield in Pinki's voiceover narration", while noting "the film plays like a cross between Los Olvidados and Dead Presidents".[6]

The New York Times' Janet Maslin brings up Emir Kusturica's Underground as having "demonstrated the anguish in the Balkans may be better conveyed through raucous, stinging satire than by more conventionally compassionate means" and notes that Dragojević employed the same tonal approach, which "helped him define a new generation of thugs who arouse both horror and pity". She concludes that the movie is "filmed with enough stylistic bravado and sardonic narration to recall Trainspotting, seeing it best appreciated as an answer to the question Švaba poses late in the movie (in response to Pinki's statement "You've got to care about something") — "What if you can't find anything?"[19]

Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club sees Rane as being "modeled in many respects after GoodFellas" while "Dragojević's decision to let lost youth tell its own story reinforces the power of his forceful narrative and visual style, as Pinki's nihilistic musings reveal a character for whom hope has never been an option". Phipps also picks up on Dragojević's statement about Rane being a very cruel and shocking film that makes A Clockwork Orange seem like a Disney production by saying that "Dragojević's post-Tito kids live in a world that Burgess and Kubrick could only have imagined; where Clockwork carried a heavy allegorical weight, Rane has the disturbing feel of reportage".[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yugoslav Filmmakers Fight A Different War: Speaking with Goran Paskaljevic and Srdjan Dragojevic;indieWIRE, 27 July 1999
  2. ^ Rane (1998) - Awards
  3. ^ Pretty Village, Pretty Flame:Gerald Peary, April 1998
  4. ^ PK, E (21 November 2016). "EVO KAKO JE POGINUO PRAVI ŠVABA IZ RANA: Pucao je na Interventnu, a kada su uzvratili...". Kurir. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Rane: film o filmu on YouTube
  6. ^ a b The Village Voice - Blast to the Past
  7. ^ Dusan Pekic on Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Nancy Ramsey (22 August 1999). "Growing Up in Belgrade With Suitably Black Humor". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Director's statement
  10. ^ Cobra Film Archived July 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Joan Dupont (24 September 1998). "Dark Balkan Comedy and Black-Sheep Directors". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  12. ^ INTERVJU;Playboy, 2004
  13. ^ Veče sa Ivanom Ivanovićem;1Prva, January 2014
  14. ^ Bjelogrlić: Režimu smo podvalili lažni scenario za "Rane";Blic, 24 January 2014
  15. ^ Teofil Pančić (27 March 1999). "Srpsko-hrvatski apsurdi: Titlovanje i tiltovanje". Vreme. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Uzalud vam trud, lingvisti;h-alter.org, 24 August 2009
  17. ^ Miljenko Jergović (5 April 1999). "Marš u sporni organ". Feral Tribune. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Dragan Bjelogrlić: Baš mi je bio gušt da izađem s Anđelinine premijere;Blic Puls, 17 February 2012
  19. ^ Janet Maslin (1 April 1999). "Horror and Pity at Young Serbian Thugs". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Keith Phipps (29 March 2002). "The Wounds". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 

External links[edit]