Director: Veljko Bulajić

Country: Yugoslavia

Year: 1959

Duration: 120 min

Languages: Serbo-Croatian / subtitled in English

Original name: Vlak bez voznog reda

Category: , , ,

No SFR Yugoslav director had as often seen a film of his submitted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as Veljko Bulajić – which says something. But what? Most people would cynically say that he was quite simply Tito’s almost personal auteur, which made whatever he did a quasi-official matter of state; and that’s not completely wrong. Yet we should not forget that druže Tito had damn good taste in all matters of life, movies included; for Bulajić is an extraordinary filmmaker, one of the very few who knows how to use the biggest of canvases, fill them with life, ideas, thoughts, make even a barely visible extra shine as if for a split second everything here revolves around her or him – in short: spectacle as meaning.

His debut feature Train without a Timetable, a story of building up the country after WWII crystallised in one town’s tale, is not yet as big as his legendary war epics Kozara (1962) or Battle of Neretva (1969), but it already shows his extraordinary talent for narrating mass scenes – and making the collective the star. Rarely mentioned, though, are the Centro sperimentale alumnus’s debts to neorealismo in general and Cesare Zavattini in particular, which is especially noticeable here.

Olaf Möller