A lot of movies were filmed in Zagreb, but only a few relay the spirit of the city and people who inhabit it like these five do. Some may not paint the prettiest picture of it, some may criticise it, one outright distorts it into fantasy, but the presence of Zagreb is felt in all of them, almost being a character in its own right. These are the top five films with Zagreb state of mind.
5. Zagreb tales (Zagrebacke price, r: omnibus, 2009.)
Nine directors tacle small scale stories about people who live in Zagreb. They approach their themes and characters in different ways and stories vastly differ in tone which makes the film lag at times, but overall its good sides outweigh the bad. From old couples who can’t catch up with modern times and gypsies trying to make a buck to love deprived football fans on the outskirts of the city and students addicted to gaming, the film deals with everyday social problems of people living in Zagreb.
The idea of the production team was to create holdings of Zagreb based stories on film and promote filmmaking and auteurs in the city. Two more volumes have been filmed since, second one dealing with the theme of Love, and the third one, still in production, will deal with the theme of holidays.
4. Metastasis (Metastaze r: Branko Schmidt 2009.)
The film deals with the darker side of life in Zagreb, as we watch a story of four friends, hood dwellers with no perspective, ambition or interest that reaches beyond drugs, alcohol and football. It’s raw, the slang authentic and filled with curse words, it’s characters flawed, each in he’s own way, and for the most part unlikable. The story deals with drug addiction, PTSD, hooliganism and other ills of modern society, all underlined with dark humour.
It doesn’t paint a postcard perfect picture of Zagreb, it often exaggerates, cherry picking the bad fruit, but it’s a good movie with real characters that were formed by the undertow of the city they live in.
3. The Rat Savior (Izbavitelj r: Krsto Papic 1976.)
One of the rare noir fantasy films made in Croatia, The Rat Savior deals with themes of good and evil, the essence of fascism and political oppression in a stylised and atmospheric way, using elements of horror to bring its points across.
The film uses elements from a novella by Alexander Grin and even thought the name of the city where the story unfolds is never mentioned, Zagreb plays an important role in establishing the dark tone of the film.
A young writer unintentionally discovers the existence of a secret elite, a society of mutated rat people who control every aspect of the city. With his girlfriend and a ‘mad’ professor he will try to stop the rat people and their evil plans…
2. Get it, pal o’mine? (Kuzis stari moj? r: Vanca Kljakovic 1973)
Glista (Worm) is a young man living on the outskirts of the rapidly urbanising Zagreb with his father, a reseller of old iron, who is trying to find his way in a post war communism urban society. We get to have a look at a few days in his life, trying to get his hands on easy money, women and pleasures. With sharp observations about societal problems, religion, relationships, changes and the human condition delivered fully in an authentic slang. The film takes its viewer to a time long gone by but still seems fresh in its approach to the downtrodden.
Some scenes may seem highly inappropriate for this day and age (underage children smoking and singing sexual innuendos), but the humor and themes still feel fresh and true in a different political systems.
1. One song a day takes mischief away (Tko pjeva, zlo ne misli r:Kreso Golik 1970)
What to say about this charming film that would truly convay how great it is? The clumsy translation of the title gives it no justice (More appropriate would be ‘He who sings means no evil’). Everybody in Zagreb loves and quotes this film. Set in the mid 30′, the story is told trough the eyes of six years old Perica as he watches everyday life of his family and neighbours unfold. The routine is broken when a dandy, Mr. Fulir, sets his eyes on Perica’s mother. Completely oblivious to the affair in the making, Perica’s father constructs a plan to hook Mr. Fulir up with his wife’s spinster sister…
The film overwhelms it’s viewers with a sense nostalgia, setting picturesque scenes of life in Zagreb in the 30′ filled with humorous dialog and music. Considered one of the best films ever made in Croatia, this is the one you just have to watch.