Oh my God, you haven’t seen it? – don’t you just hate hearing that? It happens to me from time to time, especially when someone mentions a Hollywood blockbuster everybody’s making a big fuss about. I remember that in 1998 Armageddon came on screen and I promised myself that I would watch it when people stop jabbering about the ‘Don’t wanna miss a thing’ song. To be honest, I don’t think I have seen the entire movie to this day. But recently I have mentioned Emir Kusturica’s Black cat, white cat (released in the same year as Armageddon!) to my boyfriend and, to my suprise, he had no idea what I was talking about. And since he’s very important to me and since he’s also a film person, I felt that I want this note to be partially my gift to him. I apologise in advance for those who have seen the movie, since my choice for this week’s note might seem pretty obvious. And for those people who haven’t seen it – see the opening question.
When I first saw Black cat, white cat, I decided very deeply that Emir Kusturica’s going to be my husband one day and we’ll have cute half- Serbian, half- Polish babies. Not being able to fulfill this dream means that I at least promised to be the most faithful fan of his cinematography; the kind of admirer that wants the music from his movies to be played on my funeral. Every film of his is an invitation to a crazy world of adventure, where sacrum is mixed with profanum and various genres blend, forming a galaxy of visual and emotional experiences.
Welcome to Emir Kusturica’s world!. If you want to reproduce the conditions at home, you’ll need:
– bodyguards with green hair,
– ‘Maradona’ yelp being used as a cheer,
– sinking washing machines,
– pigs that a ridden on,
– porn bits being animals copulating,
– cameras hidden in geraniums,
– the mafia boss who looks like a dummy,
– a beat-up jeep used as a wheelchair,
– money being used as a fan,
– geese that are more numerous than people.
Let’s not forget the dialogues with lines like: ‘If you can’t solve the problem with money, solve it with a lot of money’ or ‘What abour your soul? Our parents are watching from above. They can’t see anything, it’s clouded’. Black cat white cat is a tale about love and hate, brotherhood and lack of equality, about loveable characters living in absurd circumstances. There’s Zare (Florijan Ajdini) who’s in love with Ida (Branka Katić). He cannot marry her because his father Matko (Bajram Severdžan), being a lousy swindler who got cheated on by a big local scum Dadan (Srdjan Todorović), to pay off the debt promised his son to Dadan’s sister. Zare and his grandad (Zabit Memedov) search for a way out of this miserable situation. The older comes out with a wonderful idea – he’ll die just before the wedding. His passing starts a parade of unexpected events that result in Dadan’s unfortunate outhouse accident. The plot is fast- paced, surprising and filled with Balkan music that enhances the feeling of absurdity. That life needs to be celebrated and death is just a temporary inconvenience. This fresh approach to a comedy seen as taking the plot with a pinch of salt makes Black cat, white cat full of vibrancy and positive energy. Some say that the world presented in the film is the result of Kusturica’s vivid imagination. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work to the film’s advantage. This movie is not a character study that offers insight to the heart of the human nature. It’s a warm, colourful, musical break we can give our mind from broken washing machines, dying plants and other dumb parts of our lives that fill up our days to the overbrim.
I hope that next time I mention Black cat, White cat to someone, the reaction won’t include eyes- rolling and sarcastic comments about my cinematographic taste. I really hope someone will say: ‘you know, this comedy was so much better that all of Sandra Bullock movies’. Or, I mean, better that at least one of them.
You’ll enjoy this movie if:
- You’re looking for something funny, warm and light. Like you’re having a bad day and want to forget about what has happened at work or with your partner.
- You feel music as an important part of a film production and should be put on a pedestal.
- You like Monty Python’s sketches. Some of the scenes in Black cat, white cat remind me of a vibe in And now for something completely different.
Title: Black cat, white cat (Crna mačka, beli mačor)
Directed by: Emir Kusturica
Written by: Emir Kusturica, Gordan Mihić
Country: France, Germany, FR Yugoslavia