Zoran Tadić's Films about Revenge

All his life Zoran Tadić made crime films. In his crime opus there is a separate cycle of films devoted to revenge. Tadić’s films about revenge San o ruži (1986), Osuđeni (1987), The Man Who Loved Funerals (1989) and Eagle (1990) were made one after another and thus constitute a chronological cycle as well. The characters in these films want to get revenge for crimes that were committed against them, members of their families or friends. The motif of revenge is most pronounced in the films Osuđeni and The Man Who Loved Funerals in which avengers get even with people who completely ruined their own or their dearest ones’ lives by making false accusations and sending them to prison. In the film Eagle motif of revenge is less justifiable but the avengers are equally determined. They retaliate with people who, according to them, led their friend to commit suicide. In the film San o ruži motif of revenge is implicit but equally strong. The protagonist kills members of mafia, seemingly in self-defense, but in reality because he wants to get even with gangsters who have it all while he, an honest man, has nothing.

In Tadić’s films victims of revenge are all criminals and crooks. Therefore Tadić’s avengers believe that they are not committing vengeance but rather an act of justice. Film theoreticians always had a tendency to search for genre and social motives in Tadić’s films, but in their analysis they never went beyond the conclusion of Tadić’s avengers – that they are bitter fighters against injustice. Nevertheless, besides being a skillful genre director and social commentator, Tadić was also an excellent psychologist capable of penetrating and exposing the complex intimacy of his characters. Thus after a more detailed analysis one can note that the motif of revenge in Tadić’s films is not so simple.

Namely, all Tadić’s avengers are people who think their lives are unsuccessful, both when it comes to love or work. They are incapable of taking responsibility for their own failures, and find scapegoats in the aforementioned criminals. Their act of vengeance is in fact a transfer of guilt. In their eyes, these mean people are the reason for their own failure and therefore they deserve (justified) revenge. In the film Eagle the avengers actually hide something more behind their retaliation – their own responsibility for their friend’s death.

Naturally, their act of revenge does not succeed. After a short feeling of satisfaction, what follows is a final destruction of their lives. However, the end of the film Eagle offeres a different viewpoint. In it, with their dramatic act of vengeance the avengers implicitly admit their own responsibility for their friend’s death as well as their own failures in life. They are the only characters in Tadić’s films who find a path that could lead them to a better life and ultimately peace and relief. They show that Tadić’s author world, despite the usual opinion, is not reduced merely to pessimism and resignation.  (Juraj Kukoč)