Wildes, schönes Land
The Balkans in concentrated form
Killing a wolf poses no problem for Veljko Bojović. And his twelve-yearold grandson is keen to pose for the camera with his rifle. Life in the Montenegrin mountains is rougher than elsewhere. Here, for example, goats are dragged across foggy mountain pastures before having their throats cut. Bojović follows in the footsteps of his ancestors and talks about how the Serbians’ ability to come to an agreement has always been the only thing that saved them. In the mountains, people cherish their myths, such as stories of war, triumph and despair. These people draw up family trees that go back to the fifteenth century. This may all sound like a cliché but if you were to look for more examples of the wild beautiful Crna Gora you would probably find them in abundance. Montenegro is home to all religions and all ethnic groups of the region – alongside Orthodox Montenegrins and Serbs there are Muslim Bosniaks and Albanians, Catholic Albanians and Croats. Yet the biggest difference is actually probably between the people who live in the mountains and those who live on the coast.
The sea, you see, is not rough at all, but bright, gentle and warm, boasting a coast of such beauty that it attracts a million tourists every year. In proportion to the number of inhabitants, this figure matches that of people who travel to France. Of course, it would be easy for Return to Europe to concentrate solely on the beauties of the nature here but instead it aims to get viewers thinking by showing the dark side of the region’s recent past. For example, the bombing of Dubrovnik by Montenegrin forces, the negative sides of the tourism boom, the patriarchal structures and the attempts of this very small yet very diverse country to find a common identity. The camera’s focus shifts back to the mountains, which are not the colour their name Crna Gora (black mountains) would suggest, but are grey and white. The camera seems to have fallen in love with these mountains, with their sloping layers of rock lying on top of each other, as if someone had tipped a slice of cake and you were able to count the layers of chocolate and cream. The camera has also taken a fancy to the river Tara, and anybody watching the film will inevitably fall for the Tara River Gorge, the world’s second longest canyon after the Grand Canyon. And, alongside the mountain folk and the coastal folk, the film introduces us to the Montenegrin river people, for whom the Tara is like the blood running through their veins.
The documentary gains political interest from an interview with Milo Djukanovic, who has been pulling the administrative strings of the country for years. He tells of the Milošević years, of his break with the Serbian president, of Milošević’s attempt to topple him using the army. He speaks of the dangerous balancing act in the country – in Montenegro there are many people who identify them selves as Serbian. Montenegro is a highly concentrated dose of the Balkans, and Return to Europe will get you hooked on this remarkable country. (Adelheid Wölfl)
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