The old and the new
It is often said that the directors of the new Hollywood (Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Carpenter and others) differ from their predecessors in their wide film and general education. They showed their love of film through the restoration (or, stated more clearly, continuation) of tradition of American genre cinema. But they also enriched genre film with influences from European film and in general strong authorship. All this took place in the 1970s.
A bit later, during the 1980s, something similar happened in Croatian cinema. Four directors who were educated in film and loved film very much, made several genre films in which they not only adopted the genre’s characteristics but also played with them, abandoned them and enriched them with modernist influences. Those directors were the debutants Zoran Tadić, Živorad Tomić and Dejan Šorak as well as Branko Ivanda, who added a genre film to his already existing opus.
However, the traditional context in which they created their films differed significantly from the context in which their Hollywood colleagues worked. In Croatia there was no genre tradition on which their films could lean, not even war or partisan genre films. These directors had to create the genre tradition of Croatian cinema from scratch. At the same time they could not overlook the fact that the world of film had already had time to correct and destroy their genres. Moreover, they could not easily escape the strong European (and Croatian) tradition of author films. As a result we got, on one side adopted matrices from classic genres such as criminal films, thriller and melodrama, and on the other powerful destruction, transformation or at least enrichment of the same matrices.
All the Croatian genre directors, except Dejan Šorak, chose the criminal film and thriller as their basic genre model. However, only Živorad Tomić stuck to the assigned genre code. His debut Kraljeva završnica is a classic thriller set in a typically cramped space, and Diploma za smrt is a film noir about commercial crime in which the socially critical element becomes the necessary genre element. Zoran Tadić, on the other hand, enriched thrillers and criminal films with a dose of the fantastic (Ritam zločina) and horror (Treći ključ) or packaged them in a modernist structure (Eagle). Branko Ivanda, who has leaned towards the avant-garde since his amazing debut, took genre film the farthest in his film Zločin u školi. In this Lynch-like film none of the clues for solving a mysterious crime get explained. Viewers are instead left with a number of puzzling questions.
Dejan Šorak did not choose a particular genre but instead played with different basis for different genres. In Maloj pljački vlaka he makes fun of attempts to transfer the romantic ideals of Westerns to the Balkan’s ravines. In Krvopijcima he betrayed the genre rules of horror films. In Officer With a Rose he did not abandon the rules of melodramas but he used saccharine sentimentality as a counterpoint for the postwar obsession with ideology. (Juraj Kukoč, program’s selector)