Balkan Cinema

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Does the Emir Kusturica’s Underground (1995) represent historical allegory or a political propaganda?

The movie Underground (1995) directed and produced by the well-known Bosnian/Serbian director Emir Kusturica is one of the most famous Serbian movies internationally. It was nominated for a number of Best Foreign Film Awards as one of the most notable ones is the Golden Palm award at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1995. The script of the movie was developed from a play by Dushan Kovachevich. Unfortunately, since the time it was released, the movie has been the spotlight of a lot of criticism. Especially, the articles posted from Alain Finkielkraut, who has not even seen the movie when typing his article, in a French newspaper Le Monte, made Emir Kuturica to quit the cinema for a year. Many of the critics have seen the film as political propaganda of ethnic nationalism and glorification of the Serbian nation. However, I believe that their views towards the film are quite wrong. In my paper I will be defending the point that, actually, the movie Underground is not a political propaganda rather it is a reflection of the nostalgia that Kostunica feels for a country that does not exist anymore. This nostalgia is even apparent from the very title of the first part of the movie “Once upon a time there was a country”. Emir Kusturica is born in Sarajevo in 1954. He was raised in a Muslim family but he prefers to identify himself neither as a Muslim or a Serb. In an interview given to IMDb he states “My father was an atheist and he always described himself as a Serb. OK, maybe we were Muslim for 250 years, but we were Orthodox before that and deep down we were always Serbs, religion cannot change that. We only became Muslims to survive the Turks”. He studied in the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1978 and has won many awards for his great performance in producing short movies. His most notable movies are Time of the Gypsies, Arizona...
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