Director: Nikola Tanhofer

Country: Yugoslavia

Year: 1961

Duration: 101 min

Languages: Serbo-Croatian / subtitled in English

Original name: Sreća dolazi u 9

Category: , , ,

Nikola Tanhofer’s Happiness Comes at Nine o’Clock holds a unique place in Croatian film history as such, for it is commonly considered to be its first cinematic essay in fantasy – call it a philosophical fairy tale. Its basis is Hans Christian Andersen’s Lykkens Kalosker (1883), but Tanhofer and his screenwriter, famed Slovene modernist author Vitomil Zupan, took their liberties with the material. Two ladies clutching an umbrella, Happiness and Regret, float one evening down from the sky into the midst of ordinary life. With them they bring a magic piece of cloth that will make its owner’s most ardent wish come true. But as we all know: beware of getting what you want – as a few people are soon going to find out…

Tanhofer is a towering figure of Croatian cinema: first as a director of photography, then also as a director, and finally as a theoretician-teacher – plus, if we feel like it, we can also add early amateur digital artist. Tanhofer loved to try out techniques as well as genres, so every film had to be something different formally. What connects his comparatively small fiction feature œuvre is a sense of existential dread – of destiny playing games with us mere humans. In that regard, Happiness Comes at Nine o’Clock is the grand meta work of his career – his grand masterpiece.

Olaf Möller