Five Movies of Ivo Bresan to See

Yesterday was a sad day for Croatian cultural life. One of the country’s greatest pen wielders, Ivo Bresan, has passed away. The influential playwright and screenplay writer, he was known for his satirical wit and bravery to touch sensitive topics. His works often reflected on contemporary problems of Croatia, but also the universal values and cravings of human kind.

In addition to numerous novels, Bresan was a remarkable screenplay writer. His filmic tales have greatly influenced the seventh art in Croatia. Here is a selection of five movies of Ivo Bresan, some of which are available in English.


Acting Hamlet in the Village of Mrdusa Donja

Directed by Krsto Papic in 1973, this Yugoslav movie was based on the play of Ivo Bresan, with the main role being played by Rade Serbedija. The story follows the happenings in a remote village, which celebrates the election of a new peasant cooperative president. The event includes a staged performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, played by local actors. But as the time passes, it is revealed that Danish court has a lot of in common with the village community.


The Rat Savior

One of the best Croatian films ever made, The Rat Savior is another work of director Krsto Papic. Released in 1976, the eerie movie tells the story of a man who discovers an intelligent race of rats, capable of taking human shape. Living in secret, these vampire-like beings have hidden agendas, none of which seem plausible to humans at all.


The Secret of Nikola Tesla

Premiered in 1980, this long-feature movie follows the life story of Nikola Tesla. The highly popular scientist, whose inventions have largely changed the 20th century, was born in Croatian village of Smiljan. Bresan explored the life of Tesla, investigating whether his greatest technical contribution was kept in secret by his investors.  The movie was another work of director Krsto Papic.


Marshal Tito’s Spirit

Bresan’s first work with his son, director Vinko Bresan, was a very successful comedy How the War Started on My Island.   Their co-operation continued on, the result being a rather controversial film about the supposed appearance of Josip Broz Tito’s ghost in a remote Dalmatian village. The leader of communist rebellion has always been a problematic subject in Ex-Yugoslavian region, as some regard him as a hero while the others perceive him as a totalitarian tyrant.  Many local movie makes would avoid such topic in a film, but not the Bresans.

Dubrovnik receiving Air Bridges before Christmas


The historical spectacle which was directed by Veljko Bulajic follows the life of Marin Drzic, a very important playwright of Dubrovnik State. Not much precise details are known about this historical person, but the adventure told through Ivo Bresan’s pen is well worth of your time next to your home theater.

Croatia has lost a champion of its literate word, yet Ivo’s mark in the country’s culture will stay for a long time. Be introduced to the works of this Croatian film maker and playwright, and find inspiration in all the messages he left for the following generations.

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