Makavejev's third film, an entrancing collage using excerpts from the first Serbian talkie, a hilariously naïve melodrama made in occupied Belgrade in 1942 with film stock stolen from the Germans. Bad as the film was, it was apparently a huge success, mainly because audiences delighted in flouting German movies to wallow in its pouting heroine's adventures as she is saved from a wicked stepmother and a leering lecher by a strong man with the heart of a lion (played by a real life Charles Atlas-cum-Houdini type). Innocence, though, is preserved in more ways than one, for Makavejev reassembled the surviving members of cast and crew, older, greyer and sadder. The strong man demonstrates that he can still manage some of his milder tricks (and defends himself against a charge of wartime collaboration); the stepmother wistfully recalls that she once won a competition for the most beautiful legs in Belgrade (and does a song-and-dance to prove it); and as they exchange memories of the old days, Makavejev cuts in newsreel shots of the Occupation so that one begins to see the hoary old melodrama with the eyes of 1942. The film, the people, their youth and their dreams, hover before us as miraculously preserved as flies in amber.
Cast and crew