have chosen to watch and report on the film “Black Cat, White Cat” by Emir Custurica for several reasons. Firstly, Custurica is a globally famous filmmaker, known in the US for his “Arizona Dream”. Secondly, Custurica does pay much attention to matters of culture in his films, so his works are very informative. Thirdly the characters of “Black Cat, White Cat” belong to different peoples and cultures, including Serbians, Gypsies and Bulgarians. So the film tells enough about cultural and cross-cultural communications.
Produced in 1998, the film is a kind of romantic comedy telling a story of several young people in search of their love in the world of gangsters and smugglers. One of those smugglers named Matko Destanov owes money to a gangster named Dadan. Dadan is eager to find a husband for Afrodita – his midget sister and he proposes to settle the debt by marriage of Matko’s son Zare with his sister. However, Zare is in love with another girl named Ida, and Afrodita dreams o another man. After numerous funny and dangerous adventures all of the young people find their happiness, and Dadan finds himself in manure both in metaphorical and ordinary sense.
The film is very ironic and easy to watch as a family comedy. As I have already noticed, the film tells much about cultural communications. Firstly these are family and friendship. The characters seem to be very family-oriented and “beautiful friendship” is one of the core motifs of the story. Young people dream of a family and stable relationships, older people desire to make their children happy as Zare’s grandfather and even such a savage man as Dadan wishes to do the will of his parents even though through violence. Personal relations are basic forces driving the characters in life, business and even crime.
They rely upon help of their pals and relatives in virtually every action they take, thusly playing a tricky party game – each for own purposes but considering the will of the others. This can be illustrated by relations of Zare with his grandfather. Zare loves his grandfather and helps him to escape from hospital to return to his bacchanalian lifestyle, and the thankful grandfather gives all his money to Zare. Such approach to personal relations is full of traditionalism and is pretty different from the present situation in this country.
Another cultural aspect, which might seem rather evil in this country is attitude of characters towards law. Throughout the film it may seem that there is no law and legal formalities at all. Customers are easily bribed, medical personnel is unable to control the patients, gangsters behave as actual rulers and an official solemnizing a marriages passively does everything what he is ordered to do, even knowing that marriage between Zare and Afrodita is forcible. However, the characters actually do not feel any discomfort from absence of formalities.
Law is replaced by aforementioned personal relations, and perhaps they would feel unhappy from presence of legal obligations rather from absence of such obligations. There are many interesting minor cultural details in the film such as marriage customs, costumes, language features and other which, being combined together, create a fascinating impression of involvement in other culture. Films like “Black Cat, White Cat” cause spectators to become interested in strange lifestyles and habits forming an idea of global cultural diversity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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