Review by Camden Ferrell
Dara of Jasenovac is Serbia’s official submission for the Best International Film category at this year’s Academy Awards. This movie comes from veteran director Predrag Antonijevic. Covering an often overlooked and horrific aspect of the Holocaust era, this movie succeeds in telling the story of a young girl’s perseverance through tragedy.
In the 1940’s, Dara is a young girl who experiences the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand when her family is taken to a concentration camp. This camp is not run by Germans, but it is run by the Ustase, a fascist Croatian group. Dara must protect her infant brother from the horrors that surround her, and she must find the courage and strength to endure a series of unspeakable tragedies.
The film works significantly because it tells a story that doesn’t get told very often. Many Holocaust films concern Nazi concentration camps, and there aren’t many that cover the other inhumane camps that were run elsewhere. It’s a really fascinating premise that is very educational especially to those not familiar with Eastern Europe in this era.
The film is led by a young but remarkably talented Biljana Cekic. The subject matter is extremely intense, but she handles it miraculously. It’s impressive to see her slowly portray the mental exhaustion and anguish of her character with such power. The other highlight of this film is Zlatan Vidovic who plays Dara’s father in a separate subplot. He also does a great job of presenting the pain and longing that many people suffered during this time when they were separated from their families.
Antonijevic’s direction is very confident and refined. He executes his scenes well, and he usually maintains a steady pace. The film can feel a little slow in certain sections, but this compensated by some truly horrific yet well done sequences.
The script, written by Natasa Drakulic, is rather reserved. Dialogue isn’t too prevalent, but this works in the film’s favor. It seems as if the script prefers to revel in speechless horror that aims to transcend the screen. While the writing is strong, there are moments that don’t flow very well and can sometimes drag certain scenes and moments down.
Despite its few flaws, this film is a brutal watch. It features many gut-wrenching and tragic moments that highlight how horrific these camps truly were. This violence and inhumanity is not gratuitous as its integral in telling this story and portraying this part of history that is often overlooked.
Dara of Jasenovac is a great Holocaust movie with strong themes and great performances. It has some amazing and disturbing sequences that really elevate it. Despite its occasionally sluggish pace, it is a film worth checking out this February.
Dara of Jasenovac is in select theaters February 5.
2/3/2021 03:38:27 pm
Will go as well in Zagreb as "Behind Enemy Lines" did in Belgrade.
2/8/2021 04:59:12 am
Funny how you mention "Behind Enemy Lines": that film borrowed a scene from "Savior" (1998) where Ustashe were also shown committing a heinous mass murder, but cut it up so as to fit its the "Serbs bad" narrative. Incidentally, "Savior" was also directed by Peter Antonijević, just like "Dara of Jasenovac".
2/7/2021 03:53:17 pm
Unfortunately this real and very sad, sad story was not allowed to be seen in the time of Tito’s regime. The reason : “Brotherhood and Equality, by that regime, spreading the lies that the talk about this atrocity would “Insult the main perpetrators Ustase Group (from republic of Croatia as part of Yugoslavia, but now is independent country.
2/20/2021 06:27:37 pm
That's a patent lie. Since the memorial park was established in 1960 each and every year until 1990, 3rd grade high school excursions included visiting Jasenovac memorial complex. That means that you have visited it in 1966 or 1967. My father was there in 1964, my mother in 1976. It was part of their history curriculum and mine too in the '90s, both for the 8th grade of elementary school and 3rd grade high school. Stop inventing communist suppression because you were an F grade student.
2/8/2021 04:19:46 pm
- Do you know that Serbia not want proposal to independent experts from all over the world, even from Serbia are investigate Jasenovac? It is easier to manipulate like this over media.
2/8/2021 08:01:10 pm
Cool. But current political affairs do not change the fact that Croats were nazis during wwII, and that they killed around 100k Serbs, Roma, and Jews. They also don't change the facts about war crimes Serbs committed in the 90s, nor the fact that Croats weren't so innocent either at that time. So you all can just continue pointing fingers at each other, measuring who's more guilty of what, or you can all learn not to trust the propaganda that is pitting you against each other. Learn about your past, don't repeat it, move on trying to heal. Your enemy are not the people of Serbian nationality, nor is their enemy Croats. Politicians and other people in power who are teaching you to hate and fight are the real enemy.
2/9/2021 03:10:56 am
This entire post is laughable. Going point by point:
2/23/2021 05:38:03 pm
Almost nothing of what you said is not true. Go read about Jasenovac from oficial Holocaust books...
2/20/2021 07:17:03 pm
I'm wondering have we watched the same movie?
2/22/2021 11:46:45 am
I think that is not true. The plot is very clear for me to say Dara and Budo are siblings. You don’t need to attach the etiquette to their foreheads to say “brother” and “sister”. But at least you realize that true the development. I guess it depends on conceptual understanding and how quickly the viewer can connect the dots, but certainly this movie has been marvellous and superb. Does it deserve 10*? No, but definite 8.5*.
2/23/2021 06:00:23 pm
I think you are not Milovan 🤣 Are you agree?
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