Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pun mesec nad Beogradom – review

Director: Dragan Kresoja

Release date: 1993

Contains spoilers

The title translates to Full Moon Over Belgrade and this was a film produced in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as was. It certainly is a rarity and is an example of a vampire being used allegorically as the film is (not subtly) an anti-war film and one wonders if the vampires are real or, indeed, who the true vampires are.

The film begins with bums in a night time street, walking past whores. A Rolls Royce pulls up a woman looks at the men. It seems she selects them all and takes them all with her but it is just the fantasy of one of them. Eventually they come to a club where a band plays. As we look at the band we realise that the bums are all band members and they watch themselves. This was actually the Serbian band Piloti and cut is called on a video. Aleksa (Dragan Bjelogrlic) was watching the shoot and leaves. One of the bums offers him a drink that he refuses. The fact that the bums watch themselves perform on a stage, the bums part of the video and yet somehow separate to the band, underlines the surreality of the film and the concept that nothing is what it seems.

Djordje and Aleksa
Aleksa works on an occult/new age type magazine but he is aiming to get a scholarship and move to England. He and his friend Djordje (Nebojsa Bakocevic) attend the funeral of Milorad (Slobodan Ninkovic), a young man who had worked on the magazine with them until he was drafted into the army. It is a military funeral though it is said that Milorad had no blood left in him. Djordje suggests that Aleksa asks for a transfer to the night shift as he is more likely to be picked up by the military as a draftee if he works days. He asks for the transfer.

in the library
The first night he is working with Djordje and a woman called Madam Kosara (Ruzica Sokic). She is an eccentric who only works nights. It is suggested that Djordje has been working on the voncimer, her library, cataloguing the books therein. When Aleksa’s father is made redundant Aleksa goes to see his girlfriend, whom he hasn’t visited for a month, as his father has signed Aleksa’s draft papers. He asks her for a place to stay but she has a new boyfriend. At work he discovers that Djordje has been mobilised – in other words taken by the military police. He is enticed to stay with Kosara by being shown a supposedly missing book that forms part of her library.

in a tine coffin
Of course, things get weirder and weirder. He starts to see Milorad who tells him to run away from Kosara. Milorad states that he is a vampire now but can only come to Aleksa in his dreams as he was buried in a tin coffin – something that prevents him physically rising. Later Djordje is brought back for buriel. He is in a tin coffin also, and the view-plate lets us see that he has fang marks on his neck. He too starts to visit Aleksa’s dreams.

a light nibble
Ultimately the vampires (as well as Kosara there is her husband Alimpije (Rade Markovic)) are representative of the state, forcing young men to spill their blood on the battlefield, destroying dreams through wars. The ending of the film is incredibly dour but getting there is a surreal journey that includes a party of the dead and Kosara selling off goods to survive.

On odd film, but fascinating – offering a glimpse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through the eyes of protest. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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