Jovan Jovanovic – Mlad i zdrav kao ruza aka Young and healthy as a rose (1971)


A director with a very distinctive style, Jovan Jovanovic has filmed in 1971 one of the most significant works in the history of contemporary Serbian film. “Young and Healthy Like a Rose” is a strong visionary achievement that still looks topical today as back in the times when it was filmed and banned by the then communist censorship. A story about a young delinquent, who evolves from typical outsider to mafia boss of Belgrade seemed shocking back then; today, it is the cruel reality of our times. With incredible foresight of things to come, Jovanovic’s leading character says: “I am your future”. More poetical than Hollywood movies, much more realistic than “Trainspotting”. An exciting story about crime, drugs and the deadly grip of the secret police in Serbia. The best role of Dragan Nikolic, one of the rare ones he presented himself as a tough guy and the authentic sex symbol from this region. A slap in the face of film and other convention. A must see!


Mlad i zdrav kao ruža (Young and Healthy as a Rose, 1971) was the first feature film of a young Serbian film director, Jovan Jovanović (1940). Jovanović was considered to be one of the up and coming mavericks of the new Yugoslav cinema, having enjoyed a degree of international success with his previous two documentaries. By analyzing the „punk“ aesthetics of his feature debut before the punk movement was even born, the text emphasizes the prophetic side of the film and some of the reasons why the reactions to it at the time of its realease were unfavorable. Few critics were praising the energy of the film yet the media at large and the organisations of the socialist society were attacking it as reactionary, insulting to the socialist values and politically unacceptable. There was no official ban of the film, but it was never seen again in theatres or on television until 2006. Jovanović’s film is a chaotic pre-punk rock, pre-Dogme 95 avant-garde cinema, with shaky camera, improvised dialogue and ecstatic disregard for causality. It references American and European leftist cinema while at the same time satirising the socialist values, consumer mentality, youth rebellion, secret services and organized crime. Its energy is captivating even as its narrative and images spiral into barely controlled chaos, but its most enduring quality is how accurately it managed to foresee the degenerative developments over the following three decades in Yugoslavia and make fun of them in advance.
Author: Uroš Smiljanić (novikadrovi net)


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