Golik’s opus spans from the very beginnings of professional and continuous Croatian cinema, from mid-1940’s all the way to the 1990’s, when he directed the TV series Dirigenti i mužikaši (1991), which makes him the only active author of Croatian film who began his career during socialism and the first five years after the WW II
The name Krešo Golik is one of those names that even the less informed viewers of Croatian films will recognize immediately. He is well known as the director of the film I Have Two Mothers and Two Fathers and the TV series Gruntovčani. Very few Croatian directors, except maybe Ante Babaja thanks to his film Breza or Antun Vrdoljak thanks to Glembajevi, are so well-known. However, while many important Croatian directors remained directors with merely one or two really important films (from Belan and Tanhofer to Babaja and Berković) and in spite of the danger of remembering Golik for only one film and one excellent and probably most important Croatian TV series of all time, there is an indisputable fact that Golik’s opus is quite extensive. While other fruitful Croatian directors of feature films remained synonymous with the periods in which they were active and finished their careers prematurely (for example Branko Bauer, Fadil Hadžić and Vatroslav Mimica), Krešo Golik remains a unique director whose career, during which he directed ten feature films, two TV dramas and three TV series, spanned through five decades and endured through many stylistic changes and production eras of Croatian film. In addition, he had experience in different media, simultaneously working both on film and television, as he gladly accepted the possibility to devote a large part of his opus to production of TV feature films and series (other directors who were famous for their TV work mainly directed documentaries and reportages, such as Petar Krelja and Bauer). Namely, Golik’s opus spans from the very beginnings of professional and continuous Croatian cinema in mid-1940's all the way to 1990’s when he directed the TV series Dirigenti i mužikaši (1991). This made him the only active author of Croatian film who began his career during socialism and the first five years after the WW II.
Golik began to work on film in the second half of the 1940’s as an editor of film journals. His first two feature films, Plavi 9 (1950) and Djevojka i hrast (1955), provided key attempts to implement social realism into domestic cinema. Neither of those films is a master piece and the aforementioned attempts were disrupted by the emergence of three exquisite Croatian films in the 1950’s – Belan’s Koncert, Bauer’s Ne okreći se sine and Tanhofer’s H-8. However, Vatroslav Mimica, who went on to become one of the pioneers of Croatian film modernism, had a similar experience with his two debut films, U oluji and Jubilej gospodina Ikla. Therefore, one should not worry about that fact too much. At the time, Croatian cinema was still at an early stage and its protagonists who were making their debut feature films (Plavi 9 is actually the third feature film made in post-WW II Croatia) were just beginning to learn how to cope with problems connected to industrial, production, narrative, acting, directing, artistic and many other issues. Moreover, they had to endure unthinkable ideological pressures of the new social and cultural revolution. In truth, film was expected to be “the most important of all arts” (Lenin), as it was the only new art without a bourgeois history in Yugoslavia. And that is how the film makers felt – privileged. After all, the entire crew of the State Institute of Pictography became part of Jadran film, without anyone blinking an eye. Thus Golik, at least not yet, had no problems with his “pre-revolutionary” past. However, what is more important – and can be concluded only from today’s perspective and a certain distance – post-war Croatian (centralized, governmental, administrative) cinema started to standardize the film production and build its own film art at the very moment when the classic film practice as well as the system of studios started to collapse. Consequently in late 1950’s, it transformed into the new wave and modernism. It is a paradox that in our country the implementation of the classic style and practice of a centralized, integrated studio production took place during the early phase of emergence of the modernist film art ideology but it also explains a lot. Such as the fact that the first top-rate Croatian feature film was made at the moment when the new wave was already in the making as well as the fact that Golik or Mimica will identify and accomplish their sensibility only later, within the author film practice.
It is quite interesting that both of these directors, in the 1950’s overshadowed by the great master of the classic style Bauer, took a break of almost ten years between directing their next feature films. Mimica proceeded to direct cartoons and Golik spent that period as assistant director on some of the greatest classic Croatian films – such as some of the best films by Bauer during his transitory phase and including the masterpiece of classical Croatian studio cinema, Martin u oblacima from 1961. Golik’s experience working as an assistant director is very important for the development of his personal directing as well as stylistic habitus, which, even in the later framework of author cinema primarily remained populistically oriented (and that makes him the closest to Bauer and Hadžić from all Croatian directors). He worked on Bauer’s underestimated film Četvrti suputnik from 1967, Vrdoljak’s successful Kad čuješ zvona from 1968 and Berković’s Rondo from 1966, which are all films characterized by a classic narrative structure that to the so-called discrete modernism, which is close to modernism itself and the author cinema style. Golik’s most famous films are I Have Two Mothers and Two Fathers from 1968 and Tko pjeva zlo ne misli from 1970. Even though they were modernist in style and pioneering films of the new author cinema (characterized by a personal and subjective style of making films, so-called “writing with film”, as the Parisian new wave authors used to describe it), their skeleton had a classic narrative and their fictional stories were populistic, concerned with youthful, new wave phenomena and marital issues reminiscent of the spirit of the French film moralism (I Have Two Mothers and Two Fathers). These characteristics made them close to Truffaut and Godard’s obsession with moral, sex and changes floating in the air. In addition, they toyed with genres and quotations, thus continuing the dialogue about civic and marital morality (Tko pjeva zlo ne misli). In the next ten years, during the 1970’s and beginning with the aforementioned two films, Golik started to build his well-rounded film opus, no matter how quiet he might have seemed. The next film from that time is the third part of his modernist tryptic, Živjeti od ljubavi, which marked not just his own but also Croatian film’s biggest breakthrough into the modernist narrative procedure (characterized by the interplay of the experiential and narrative time i.e. at one point in the film future and past trade places). In addition, it ended Golik’s interest for the issues of marital morality and young protagonists and continued to further investigate his “female topics”. Afterwards, Golik began to develop his specific form of moderate modernism by combining a sort of a late-classic or post-classic linear narration with the naturalist and somewhat veristic visual and directing style (Razmeđa and Pucanj). He often used television-style directing procedures such as “coveriage” and collective pan-around across the scene, which he fully developed in combination with naturalism, in the pinnacle of his opus the TV series Gruntovčani from 1975. Golik was not afraid of television as a medium nor possible contamination of his directing procedures of films with procedures used on television. On the contrary, his feature films in the 1970’s were often made for TV (hence maybe their naturalistic style). He never hesitated to transfer his interests as an author to television – after TV films and Gruntovčani, he directed TV dramas and two extensive TV series Inspektor Vinko in mid-1970’s and Dirigenti i mužikaši in early 1990’s. At that point, television was a place that provided Golik with what was most important to him – an interested audience as well as a medium that preferred his narrative style and his interests as an author. It is therefore indicative, as well as a sort of a confirmation, that his first feature film after ten years, as well as his last in general, Vila orhideja from 1988, was a characteristic example of what was then already referred to as arthouse film, a certain kind of escape into imaginary worlds that we got to know in Croatian esthetics of the fin de siècle. Two years later we encountered a similar world in the film by Bruno Gamulin Ljeto za sjećanje, inspired by Matoš. (Tomislav Šakić)