Branko Bauer's Don't Look Back, Son: Style and Ideology of Wartime (Partisan) Melodrama
One of the most important Croatian and Yugoslav films of the 1950s, Branko Bauer’s Don’t Look Back, Son, is sometimes mentioned as an artistically successful partisan film, although it does not show actual partisans (as opposed to “real” partisan films directed by Veljko Bulajić, Stipe Delić, Žika Mitrović and other authors). But it is Bauer’s dexterity in using the classical narrative style – unobtrusively embedding ideology as well as characterization into an interesting and melodramatic action – that is intriguing here. The article discusses these strategies – for instance the visual criteria for selecting actors, the usage of diverse social setting and, perhaps most important of all, the toying with the viewers’ expectations. The characters are often not what they seem in Bauer’s classically narrated films, which makes the ideologically charged content of the film harder to notice and much easier to bear. It also important to understand how the essential conflict of the film is melodramatic, with the family love in the centre, the love between a father, who escapes the train to the death camp “Jasenovac”, and his son, raised by the fascist “Ustaše”. The ideology becomes part of that conflict as the father strives to re-educate his not very likeable
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