#10 The Other Shore
- 01 Sava kod Zagreb 514 / Sava near Zagreb 514
- 02 Ekvilibrij / Equilibrium
- 03 Seisana
- 04 Rođendan stalagmita / Stalagmite's Birthday
- 05 Post sezona / Postseason
- 06 Putnici Eldorado Expressa / Passengers of Eldorado Express
- 07 Jesenice-Stuttgart itd... / Jesenice-Stuttgart etc...
1970, 5' 48''
- 08 Intermezzo
- 09 In continuo
- 10 Druga obala / The Other Shore
- 11 Ljetni dan / A Summer Day
1974, 7' 21''
- 12 Circulus
Film restoration: Nikola Bišćan, Zlatko Domić, Ivica Drnić, Ernest Gregl, Hrvoje Sarić
Sound restoration: Boris Vagner
MIROSLAV MIKULJAN’S AUTHORIAL PRESEASON
Miroslav Mikuljan’s non-professional authorial work created in his parent Cine-club Zagreb before the study of editing at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, is yet another strong argument in favor of the statement that in historical revaluations of short films Croatian amateur production should not be separated from professional. Moreover, when we take a look at Mikuljan’s non-professional films made in the 1960s and 1970s, we are getting a clearer picture not just of him as film author, but also of the roots of certain phenomena in Croatian cinema, whose authorship is unfairly, and sometimes even arrogantly, assumed by the mainstreamprofessionals.
This primarily refers to the little known documentary part of his non-professional work, dealing with themes increasingly topical both in social and cinematic context at the time of Mikuljan’s initiation as filmmaker, such as the wave of emigration from Croatian underdeveloped regions to Germany of people looking for work. This fact was by no means flattering to the “socialism” aspiring to be a society fit for everyone, but it attracted documentarians, Mikuljan included, who then shot first Croatian films about foreign workers. His films talk about different phases of the emigration process: Putnici Eldorado Expressa / Passengers of Eldorado Express (1970) depicts a long and humiliating wait in the visas line at the embassy of former West Germany, while Jesenice-Stuttgart (1970) describes chaotic boarding of fully packed “special” trains with tragicomic effects. Still, these films are similar in a certain way. Both persistently observe the scenes from aside, but also comment them in a certain manner – by sounds or music – achieving an impressive audio-visual counterpoint, which might evoke some other “great transports” linked to Germany, especially in the second film where boarding is accompanied by instructions to passengers pouring from train station loudspeakers.
Although Mikuljan was particularly, in documentary-manner sensitive to social phenomena, in this early phase his themes were also provided by the raging nature. For example, in documentary Sava kod Zagreba / Sava near Zagreb 514 (1964) he recorded the consequences of the flood in Zagreb and how its citizens coped with the onslaught of water. Even when he could not find extraordinary phenomena or situations from nature and society, he would focus on the routine, everyday living, abundant with symptomatic contradictions. Thus in Druga obala / The Other Shore (1972) people on the street find themselves on two different shores. The “other” shore from the title inhabit paupers crunched on street edges, from where they observe the “first” ones, so close to them in reality, but so far in status terms. Observation method applied in this film is prominent feature of Mikuljan’s documentary work from his very Cine-club beginnings. Thus, Intermezzo (1971) is focused on passers-by, or to be more precise, female passers-by caught by camera in the heart of Zagreb: on female bodies, mostly “stalked” from behind and the side while they stride or simply wonder through the scattered mass of people at the Ban Jelačić Square and the surrounding streets. One might say that Mikuljan, here focused on legs barren by the fashion imperative of short skirts, is no more than a typical male voyeur with “impure” thoughts. However, Post sezona / Postseason (1970) corrects us mildly: here the models were somewhat older and corpulent bathers at the city beach, a bit less pleasant to the eye, so we might rightfully ask ourselves was the author with the title Postseason (ironically) making an allusion to the whistled season of youth and dilapidation of all physical.
Of course, some of this engrossment with the body (even musclebound male bodies as early as in Ekvilibrij / Equilibrium in 1964) was pertaining to the times when Mikuljan was starting to work on film. Late sixties, libertines and radical, echo in his early experimental works not just in notes of soundtracks with contemporary hits, but also in the freedom of the body and psychedelic obsession with nudity. Still, it is more interesting when Mikuljan, otherwise prone to reduction, turns physical, figurative sign into an abstract graphic inscription as, for example, in Seisana (1970), than when he takes it literally, if only as element in graphic choreography (In continuo, 1971).
Young Mikuljan, in the mood for experimentation, also tended to be allegorically subversive, most imaginatively in Rođendan stalagmita / Stalagmite’s Birthday (1970) which evokes individualism, suppressed at the time, symbolized here by a lonely figure of a man standing out from the crowd by the fact that, while everyone is walking backwards, he is going forward. This lonely, estranged position appears up to a certain degree in his other, more feebly articulated, but amazing feature films from the amateur phase (for example, Nadgradnja / Superstructure, 1965; Arijadna, 1970), where it became the image and witness of the (spirit of) time. These works were a useful exploratory prelude to entering professional cinema circles at the beginning of 1970s, when it could already have been discerned that documentary instincts would prevail over fictional in Mikuljan’s future opus making him a respectable documentarian.
||#10 THE OTHER SHORE
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