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A Portrait of the Artist as a Political Dissident

The Life and Work of Aleksandar Petrovic

In the liberal West as in socialist Yugoslavia, the films of Aleksandar Petrovic dramatize how enforced dogmatism can corrode any political system. A case study of the oft-overlooked Yugoslav director’s colorful and eventful career, A Portrait of the Artist as a Political Dissident explores how Petrovic developed specific political and social themes in his films. A response to the political vagaries of his time, these anti-dogmatic views were later to become a trademark of his work. Although interest in socialist Yugoslavia and its legacy has risen steadily since the 1990s, the history of Yugoslav cinema has been scarcely covered, and this book marks a fresh contribution to a burgeoning area of interest.

366 pages | 10 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2013

Film Studies

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"Vlastimir Sudar’s study of the films of the late Serbian film director Aleksandar Petrovic is a valuable addition to the still relatively small amount of information in English about this award-winning filmmaker’s career and his place as a prominent figure, both in the history of the cinema of the former Yugoslavia and in international cinema of the 1960s and ’70s. Though Sudar rightly concentrates on Petrovic’s films of this period, he provides detailed information about the director’s life and overall career, together with careful analysis of his major films. His book should take its place beside Daniel Goulding’s Liberated Cinema as an indispensable contribution to the history of East and Central European cinema."

Graham Petrie, McMaster University

"Vlastimir Sudar’s book is the most ambitious and comprehensive attempt thus far to bring into bold relief Aleksandar Petrovic’s role as a world-class film artist, political dissident, and a major figure in bringing about the Yugoslav new film or black film period of the 1960s and early ’70s. Using an innovative and updated version of auteur theory as a major strategy of film analysis, Sudar discovers and persuasively articulates four basic thematic political paradigms that cut across all of Petrovic’s major films. His analysis is further deepened by a remarkable variety and scope of relevant source materials—historical, biographical, cultural, and political—that he critically brings to bear to substantiate and provide a context for his film analysis."

Daniel J. Goulding, Oberlin College

"Sudar’s prose is unencumbered, his accounts of social mores containing sufficient detail to introduce a novice to the complexity of the issue, while his film analyses are competent and even include details about production costs and other minutiae."

Slavic Review

“Sudar’s analyses of Petrović’s films are mostly quite detailed and insightful. They distinguish layered formal and thematic approaches in the director’s effort to construct and articulate his critique of different elements of socialist society. . . . The book’s primary aim is to recognize Petrović as a significant figure of European modernist cinema and introduce him to Anglophone film studies. By trying to elucidate how the dominant political tendencies of socialist Yugoslavia informed Petrović’s filmmaking and the trajectory of his career, it succeeds in it.”

Canadian-American Slavic Studies

Table of Contents

Notes on Language

Chapter 1: Beginnings
    1.1 The State
    1.2 The Artist
    1.3 The State and the Artist
Chapter 2: Shoulder to Shoulder
    2.1 An Invitation from Vicko Raspor
    2.2 Raspor and Petrović: Rise and Fall
    2.3 Reclaiming the Experience
    2.4 First Films, First Problems
Chapter 3: Art as an Inquiry
    3.1 Two New Documentaries
    3.2 Three: Things “Invisible” in the War
Chapter 4: The Artist as a Feather Collector
    4.1 The New Direction
    4.2 International Recognition
Chapter 5: The Artist as an Agent Provocateur
    5.1 The Benefits of International Recognition
    5.2 Limelight as Light as Feathers
Chapter 6: The Artist as Master
    6.1 Aleksandar Petrović as the Master
    6.2 The Master and his Student
Chapter 7: The Artist in Exile
    7.1 Exile
Chapter 8: The Artist, Migrations, and the Last Days
    8.1 The Return
    8.2 Migrations and the Slow Processes of Rehabilitation
    8.3 The Lessons of Migrations and the Last Days


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