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Underground


Another rant on an overrated serbian film? You bet.

Underground


There are two archetypes which together form my opinion on Underground: Owen Benjamin's ''wizard'' and the Balkans' ''gypsy''. if you don't know what I'm talking about, a wizard (in Owen's lingo) is someone who sells you an idea by manipulating your emotions, while a gypsy (as stereotyped by the Balkans) is vulgar, smelly and has no interests outside of satisfying his primal urges. Examples of the wizard include Edward Bernays, John Lennon and Steven Spielberg, while examples of the gypsy include Benito Mussolini and Lil' Wayne.

Emir Kusturica is, well, a gypsy trying to be a wizard. Let me explain.

Underground follows a family over the span of 50 years, kicking off at World War 2 and ending at the Yugoslav Wars. While there's plenty of characters to keep up with, only three are really important - the protagonist, his poet friend, and a retard who's supposed to be a Forrest Gump-esque moral crutch. For the duration of the film, set during the cold war, the poet keeps the protagonist and his family locked up in an underground asylum, producing weapons, convincing them that the war against nazis is still in full swing. The plot consists of the three gradually falling out. Let's not beat around the bush any further and acknowledge the fact that the three characters are supposed to represent Croatia (the poet), Serbia (the protagonist) and Bosnia (the retard). Kusturica's message is neither that of a typical četnik, or a typical yugo-nostalgic, but a mixture of the two. I.e. ''Yugoslavia was awesome, but it fell apart. It's those poopyhead Croats' fault!''. It's blatant propaganda, but not the skilled, rousing, Sergei Eisenstein kind. This is the Steven Spielberg kind, but even sappier. The dialogue and acting is like something you'd see in a parody. Yelling, hand-waving, bawling, and lines that sound like ''Oh dear brother mine, for why hast thou forsaken me?''. The poet's decision to deceive the protagonist is so baseless, and he himself is portrayed as so irrationally evil, you'd think Kusturica has nightmares about Ante Pavelić coming to eat him. The movie's calling me a rat to my face, and I'd even get mad if it wasn't so pathetic.

And here's the real kicker: I respect the poet more than the protagonist. You know why? Because, while Kusturica tries his best to portray the protagonist as virtuous, he still comes across as a worthless baboon. The poet may be irrationally evil, but he's the only one who actually keeps things organized. Honestly, the protagonist seemed to be right in his place when producing those guns. His family was also really well-off, all things considered. All because of a strong leader. Remove the black-and-white propagandist morality and what you're left with is one character who builds empires, and another who sits around and masturbates. This film is so bad it portrays its own country like A. Wyatt Mann portrays black people, and thinks it's a compliment.

Just ignore the allegory and enjoy the story
That's exactly the problem. You can't ignore the allegory when the story is completely built around it.

But at least the film is technically sound
Nah. Kusturica's style is all about levity. His only good movies, Time of the Gypsies, Life is a Miracle and Black Cat White Cat, were the ones that were satisfied with just being entertainment with no grand political statement. All the booze, dancing and trumpets fall flat when you put them in the context of previously-stated bull****.

If you're talking about production values, than yeah, it has that, but that's no reason to praise a movie. It's not about how big of a budget you have, it's about how you handle the budget that you do have. Lord of the Rings cost a fortune, and it was amazing. H-8 cost peanuts, and it was also amazing. You can't buy talent, period.

So yeah, this is what happens when the archetypal gypsy tries to be a wizard. He makes the spell as loud as possible - not layered, or even intelligent - just loud, because his kind is all about following whoever has the biggest dick. Don't bother, unless you have empty bottles of Ožujsko lying around your house.