Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Around the World in 80 Movies - number 9

Country: Yugoslavia
Title: Do You Remember Dolly Bell?
Director: Emir Kusturica
Cast: Slavko Stimac, Slobodan Aligrudic, Ljiljana Blagojevic, Mira Banjac
Year: 1981
Running time: 107 minutes
Genre: Coming-of-age
Notable for:  Being Kusturica's feature length debut

Emir Kusturica burst onto the scene with his big screen debut, Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, which won four awards, including the Silver Lion, at the 1981 Venice Film Festival. A charming, bitter sweet tale set during the 'soft' Communism era of 60s Sarajevo, Dolly Bell? showcases many of the themes and idiosyncratic touches that have since become synonymous with Kusturica's films. Familial ties, generational divides, love and lust,death, man's relationship with the animal kingdom and nature, outsider/marginal communities, music, politics and crime all play a part in the story of Dino's (Slavko Stimac) transition from free-wheeling youth to adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it. A gentler, less frenetic film compared to Kusturica's later work, Dolly Bell? is populated by the unique blend of eccentric characters, replete with the surreal imagery and structured with the offbeat narrative rhythms and cadences of the two time Palme D'or winner's more Internationally celebrated films.

As with all truly memorable coming-of-age tales, the ups and downs, loves, losses and life lessons learnt may play out during a specific period, in this case drawn from the director's own memories of the period, but the themes and consequences are universal. Do You Remember Dolly Bell? also stands as a fictional document of life in the former Yugoslavia before the horrors of The Balkan Wars would forever change the physical and emotional landscapes of its inhabitants.

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