Director: Zvonimir Berković

Country: Yugoslavia

Year: 1966

Duration: 94 min

Languages: Croatian / subtitled in English

Original name: Rondo

Category: , , ,

Zvonimir Berković is one of Croatia cinema’s strangest figures: He auteur’ed merely four fiction features, of which only the first: the highly stylised, cerebral anti-melodrama Roundabout, remains truly widely remembered and celebrated. But Berković wore many hats, one of which was screenwriter, his function (in tandem with Tomislav Butorac) on Nikola Tanhofer’s H-8 (1958), a study of an accident and the people involved in it told in a fragmented manner. The latter, now, was voted in a 2020 poll among Croatian critics and historians the most important work of their film culture – with Roundabout taking second place. Read: Berković is the key to Croatian cinema’s more formalistically inclined modernism.

While the film’s main metaphor is that of chess, with its story of an affair unfolding in a series of games, the title offers the key to the work’s structure: that of a returning theme contrasted by anecdotes and digressions. Which comes naturally to Berković, whose origins as an artist lie in music: he’s a violinist by training. Roundabout would also be a good description for his directorial output in general, as essentially all of his films circle around affairs, the changing geometries of relationships, but also the economy of feelings – what you can get out of love and passions in more material means. With his last film Countess Dora (1993), he addresses cinema itself, and what it costs to make films. And thus, all was said, it seems, and Berković, ever restless, could focus on yet another field of expression…

Olaf Möller