Scen.: Zora Dirnbach. F.: Ivan Marinček. M.: Lida Braniš. Scgf.: Želimir Zagotta. Mus.: Branimir Sakač. Int.: Dušica Žegarac (Ruth Alkalaj), Boris Dvornik (Ivo Vojnović), Branko Tatic (padre di Ivo), Ervina Dragman (madre di Ivo), Mihajlo Kostić (Mladen), Desanka Lončar (Magda), Dragan Milivojević (Zvonko). Prod.: Stipe Gurdulić per Jadran film. DCP. D.: 97’. Bn.
When it came to dealing with recent history, Yugoslav filmmakers often had surprising angles that defied expectations. This poignant seventh feature by France Štiglic – known as the director of the first Slovenian feature made after the Second World War – deals with the subject of the Holocaust through direct representation of concentration camps for the first time in Yugoslav cinema. But somewhat uncharacteristically it does so by focusing on the psychological and psychosexual tensions that beleaguer the film’s young heroes. There are almost no images of wartime atrocities, except for the ghost-like female prisoners seen digging in the mud, shrouded in a thick fog that hides more than it reveals. The film instead internalises the images of mass suffering and heinous crimes and feeds this legacy into the melodramatic side of the story. Architecture student Ivo (Boris Dvornik) agrees to marry Ruth (Dušica Žegarac), the Jewish daughter of a family friend, to save her life under the Nazi-collaborationist regime. This marriage of convenience is the beginning of a new hell for the couple, who soon find themselves estranged. The film gradually shifts into a semi-hallucinatory and expressionistic mode, especially in a breathtakingly shot sequence in Zagreb (the work of cinematographer Ivan Marinček, who shot ten more films for Štiglic), in which every piece of cobblestone shines with a doomed prophecy. After Ruth is taken away to a concentration camp Ivo, who once enjoyed spending time with his male friends and a girlfriend, is awakened to reality, as well his love for Ruth. The neatly lit, geometrical shots of the first half of the film collapse along with the young man’s world. This collaboration between Yugoslav republics (Croatian production, Slovenian director, Croatian and Serbian actors) was an international success. Deveti krug screened at Cannes, and became the first film directed by a Yugoslav director to be nominated for the Oscar. However, it was released internationally only in abridged versions. This fine new restoration, using the original camera negative, offers the complete version of a true gem of Yugoslav cinema.