Don’t Look Back, My Son - a parenting thriller

This parenting thriller is probably Bauer’s best-known film, and the subtlest film of the partisan cycle. It takes place in Zagreb during World War II, in a town that seems to be living its ordinary routine: still, the mask hides a cruel threat. Bert Sotlar, member of the resistance sought by Gestapo arrives to town to play a deadly game. He is on a mission to save his son from the Ustasha boarding school. The son is morally and politically shaped into a young nazi soldier so that the father has to assume the role of an exemplary fascist in order to reach him. If the father is to be unmasked before he tricks his son into leaving the town, he faces destiny worse than death, the loss of his son who will remain trapped forever within the enemy lines in the limbo of crazed ideology. The action of the film is as exciting as the author’s toying with the Oedipus’ merry-go-round of identity. The film bitterly climaxes in one of the most masculine melodramatic scenes in the history of film. Bauer and the scriptwriter Arsen Diklić spectacularly reversed the stereotype of the generation gap: father anti-fascist has a nazi son. In the fifties this might have seemed bizarre, but from the contemporary perspective it appears quite visionary. (Hrvoje Hribar)