Tottally Different from the Others

Even though he called everything that he saw, from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning, a movie, in film lover, director and performer Tomislav Gotovac’s life there were at least three kinds of films

The first kind of films consist of those that he passionately loved, the second those that he directed and third those in which he acted or appeared as himself, Tomislav Gotovac. Of course, those from the first group are the most numerous. If it were not so, he would never have resembled a walking film encyclopedia that included not just juicy stories from his adored filmmakers’ lives, but also detailed descriptions of scenes and sequences from thousands of classic Hollywood and European films. Some of them he knew by heart and retold with passion and seduction, and one of his all time favorites A Place in the Sun from 1951, a film in which the melodramatic interpretation, the directing bravado of George Stevens and the combination of two Hollywood icons, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, elevated Dreiser’s American Tragedy. “That film has everything…”, said Gotovac and dedicated one of his first avant-garde films Pravac (Stevens-Duke) to it – “totally different from the others”.

He paid tribute to his other favorite filmmakers, such as Hawks, Ford, Murnau, Dreyer, Godard, in a similar way through his own films. Even though they were envisioned as radically different, these non-narrative and methodologically strictly conceived documentary experiments always touched upon one of Gotovac’s classic idols. When he did not use the music of his favorite jazz musicians (Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, etc.), he used sound clips from his favorite films. In his manifest film of fixation Prije podne jednog fauna (1963) he used sound bytes from Godard’s Vivre sa vie and Pal’s The Time Machine ; in the hectic Plavom jahaču (Godard-Art, 1964) and in an homage to Art Blakey he added sounds from Bonanza; in the observational Osjećam se dobro from 1966 (dedicated to Hithcock’s Rear Window) he added sound from Shind’s Onibaba, while the camera’s circling around the gymnasium sports field in Glenn Miller I (1977) is accompanied by sounds from Ford’s My Darling Clementine.

In addition, in his peculiar experiments Gotovac dedicated what belonged to his intimate life – his mother, friends (T, 1969) or the area around his family home in Krajiška 19 (Osjećam se dobro, 1966, 29, 1967; Alamo, 1969). At the same time, because of his striking physique, undeniable photogenic quality and performing authenticity he was the subject of dedication as well – as an actor in his director friends’ films or as a documentary subject (Rubikon, Cesar Franck-Wolf Vostell, Od jutra do mraka, etc.). Thus the circle of the omnipresent movie, the one Gotovac (co)directed during his whole life with his body and view, was symbolically closed. (Diana Nenadić)