'LUDWIG VON SARAJEVO'
- Directed by Reshad Strik -
An old man goes to the cemetery to visit the grave of his son, killed in the battles of 1992 from Sarajevo, Bosnia. On his way, he remembers the day when his child left home. Before reaching the grave of his relative, the old man meets the ghost of a young soldier of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, that died in Sarajevo 140 years before.
Their dialogue is a meditation on the inutility of war and the suffering of the oppressed, as they both recount armed conflicts from different eras. Taking into consideration the war haunted place where the action takes place, this conversation between a depressed father and the ghost of a soldier, between a victim from the present and an attacker from the past, is a simple, yet smart way to tackle the need for peaceful coexistence between people from different cultures, which is still something to be achieved in modern-day Bosnia.
The black-and-white dolly shots focus on the characters that talk about their past and their sufferings, while the soundtrack illustrates the moments they portray or suggest the inner state of the characters. Ludwig’s memories are accompanied by a waltz, Hamid’s memories by piano – the music gives rhythm to the words, exposing the nature of each character. The meeting is therapeutic for the old man, thus he doesn’t encounter his own son, he can relate to the young fighter that understands the tragedy of war.
There is one character that intrudes their encounter, a young thief that tries to cut the iron fence. This is a symbol to show the degradation of the humans after the long-time suffering, the young disrespectful people that have little education. But is also an overused way of showing low-class people from the Balkans, a stereotype. What is more, the way the ghost helps the old man get rid of the thief is a strange insertion in this story that happened in such a natural way and it seems more of failed try to introduce some action, to artificially build a climax.
However, we appreciate the work to research such a team, that explores the identity of a nation recounting sufferings of the past, using a resourceful imaginary situation.