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Exuberantly entertaining
Howard Schumann13 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Many years ago I hitchhiked through Yugoslavia and found a diverse, down to earth people living in harmony. Many years later, after economic decline and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence and signaled the end of the country of Yugoslavia. Emir Kusturica's Underground is a bold recreation of the events that led to the breakup, spanning the years of the Nazi invasion of World War II to the present wars. The film has been called Serbian propaganda, self-indulgent, an anti-Communist tract, an anti-war tome, cynical, nihilistic, and it may be any or all of those, but primarily it is a work of art whose surreal vision and poetic language makes any search for a coherent message elusive.

Underground traces the lives of Marco (Miki Manojlovic) and Blacky (Lazar Ristovski), two charming but immoral black market profiteers who fight the Nazis while hiding in a massive cellar with friends and family where they produce and sell munitions. Marko and Blacky both compete for the attention of actress Natalija (Mirjana Jokovic) after Blacky's wife Vera (Mirjana Karanovic) dies in childbirth, but Natalija plays both of them off against the German soldier Franz ((Ernst Stotzner). After the war, perhaps as a metaphor for the constricting rule of President Tito, Marko fails to inform the underground community that the war has ended, keeping everyone in the dark so that he can support the Communist regime and make a profit selling arms to middlemen.

Natalija helps Marco keep up the charade when he makes Blacky into a venerated national hero even though he is still alive. The only innocent characters in the film are Marco's slow-witted brother Ivan (Slavko Stimac) and his pet monkey Sino who form a lifelong bond after German bombs destroy the zoo where he was working. It is only when Sino crawls into the barrel of a tank and fires its guns do the inhabitants of the cellar work their way toward freedom and, in the process of discovery, react like space travelers finding a new world. The new world, however, looks very much like the old and when brother turns against brother, the disintegration of Yugoslavia is complete.

Underground is an exuberantly entertaining three-hour carnival filled with wild characters, singing, drinking, and fighting and a brass band that keeps the energy high with Gypsy melodies. While it is a broad comedy that often descends into borderline lunacy, it is also a tragic vision of the betrayal of a people. Its final Felliniesque image of all the characters reunited on a piece of land drifting into the sea tells more than the obvious metaphor of a broken land and a broken people. It is a testament to the endurance, the acceptance of life, and the commitment to joy of the Yugoslav people and a passionate cry for their regeneration.
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Brilliant Cracking Thriller!!......
sebbastiann23 December 2004
Those who have seen "Underground" have probably noticed that we are not watching one film but a collection of at least 10 films in one single masterpiece!!

I watched with great enthusiasm the work of Kusturica after "Underground" in films like "Arizona Dream" or "Black Cat White Cat" films which prove to be more elaborate and "smoother" in terms of direction (brilliant works as well!!) but none of these films could ever equal the "nerve" and strength of a very young Kusturica at his best! One could see the passion and boldness that is at stake in this motion picture. It's as if he gambled his own life doing "Underground"

How else can you describe this work of art if not a mixture of devilish and holy images that take the shape of a flawless piece of theater-dance!!

The actors speak, dance and create (more than interpret) with a vigor rarely found outside the Balkan Circle!

In terms of theatrical aesthetics the film incorporates Stanislavski( realism at its best), Brecht (at certain points the actors step out of their roles and mock at themselves) and Artaud (they are flames more than humans)

Needless to say more!

Shocking, raw, heart-breaking!!

One of the most beautiful I have ever seen! 10/10
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Absolutely Brilliant Film
inframan18 July 1999
When I first saw this movie on the indie channel, I taped it. I immediately watched it again, totally stunned by the extent of energy, imagination, ideas, images with which I was being blasted. Talk about a universal masterpiece! This movie should be required viewing on every screen, large & small in the US. We Americans lead such narrow sheltered lives; we are so eager to see things in black & white, to have our opinions dictated by columnists & newscasters. This movie should take off a few blinders. On the other hand, people will still opt for easy cartoon ideologies over the indisputable truth about the ferocious & predatory predilections of all "sides" of humanity. Thank god for visionary humorists like Kusturica.
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ultimate film for YU-nostalgics
slkrucican19 February 2006
Kusturica believes (and so do I) that countries don't fall apart but are actively ripped apart. So if you want to see a short summary of Yugoslav history 1941-92 and an artist's view of why it fell apart, this movie will tell you more about it than many political books or articles. Almost everybody is portrayed with varying degrees of guilt: the communists for lying to the people, Germany for bombing Belgrade in 1941, Germany again for supplying the weapons in 1991, all nationalists... Please do not be surprised if you read negative reviews for Kusturica has stepped on many folks' feet. Invest some time, it's one of the best films in the past 15-20 years. BTW: The soundtrack is excellent, go listen.
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Challenging, beautiful, ridiculous, funny, deeply profound and stoically alive.
samferolfilms13 July 2010
Underground by Emir Kusturica is absolutely phenomenal. Blending 60 years of history, wars, politics, ideas, lies and tragedy into 170mins with, irony, vibrancy, music, life, poetry and beauty whilst still retaining a genuine optimism in the face of it all.

Effortlessly. An entertaining dark comedy that weaves how generations of people get screwed over by the corruption of their politicians and their own friends out for selfish gain. So much density of politics and history compressed into such a personal story expressed through actual war footage, real political figures, self reflexivity, theatricality, music and a totally relentless narrative that isn't afraid to switch up from comedy to tragedy from one scene to the next without pandering to formulaic structure in an effort to satisfy an audience.
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For Eternity
ycornu-131 January 2005
Underground is The Film, my favorite... And nobody hasn't written any greeting comments in 2005. So, I'm happy to be the first and I wish the best year 2005 to all the Underground's fans. If you never had this chance to see the long version (5 hours) of the film, give your priority, this year, to watch it. After this, the Palme d'Or version will feel you so short!!! If you live in Paris, I can help you to discover the complete Chef d'Oeuvre.

Therefore, I understand that the film could be criticized on the political depths. But it is so easy to make movies without any involvement. Kusturica worked for 3 years on the film and involved himself on the content. But the film treatment is not only about Balkans war, but mainly about human ferocity and betrayment. Speaking Cinema, there is no film controlling so well aestheticism, scenario, actors, music and creativity. Emir did it and I am sorry that some arrogant journalists killed the film, getting it off the Cinema theaters without the popular success that Underground deserved.
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pickle-724 February 1999
I rarely weep during movies. At the end of this film, however, I began to weep bitterly--not because I was saddened by the story (although it is sad), but because I knew that I could never hope to create anything as beautiful as the movie I had just watched. It is this sort of film that both inspires and frightens aspiring film makers.
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castmastr27 February 2004
While attending college in Boston a Croatian friend of mine told me about this movie. I rented it a few days later, and let me say this is one of the greatest foreign films I have seen. While the historical and political substance of the film is largely missed by me, the story is strong enough that I connected emotionally with it. The humor of the film is very refreshing, being used to war films that are too heavy or dull to make me laugh. I recommend this film to anyone who appreciates a well told story. You will be rewarded with a beautiful picture.
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The best movie of my life!
peytoo21 August 2008
Having watched around 4000 movies so far, this has been my all-time best cinematic experience since its release date in 1995. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch Kusturica's chef d'oeuvre in Cannes Film Festival. The story of wartime profiteers and victims stretching five decades since the early days of WWII to Balkan genocide in early 1990s is a surreal, hypnotic visual treat for which no words of commendation are adequate. The movie looks and feels like having been made by some superior intelligence which transcends human understanding and imagination. Superbly realized story invites repeated viewings to absorb all that writers Dusan Kovacevic and Emir Kusturica have put into it. A true masterpiece. Don't miss this one.
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One of the two movies ever that made me cry
XIOMANGER29 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The scene when after all the pain and suffering the stuttering younger brother finally finds his old ape friend is the most poignant scene in all movie history. I am fully aware that that statement might be interpreted as national bias, but it isn't.

What can be said about this movie that hasn't been said already? That a young upstart Balkan nation gambled away the only chance it ever had after WWI of creating a peaceful, stable, safe and prosperous state, opting instead for a "Yugoslavia". That cowards and opportunists always ruled the show over decent people. That these decent people were always great heroes when it came time to fight the enemies from without, but legendary cowards and naive sheep when it came time to fight the enemy within own ranks. That a bunch of criminals ruled a communist Yugoslavia for 45 years, keeping everyone in he dark as to what was actually happening in the world. That when the cat finally came out of the bag, the people in the basement proved catastrophically inept at handling the new situation and that that only leads to more pain and suffering. And all of it, the pain, the humiliation, the bitterness, comes down to, boils into, condenses itself into that one scene where the two old friends meet. And one young lad at that time lacking the luxury of living in a normal country opened his floodgates.

There is so much to take in while watching the movie. It is nothing short of a complete history of a deceased nation of brotherhood and unity, all of it told in an allegorical style. All of which I have described in the previous chapter. The music and visual style of the movie is breathtaking. There is not a second of the movie that is not entertaining or engaging. Not a second that is not significant or out of place. And the movie is full of life, for whatever happens, life goes on. With every pain there is joy and vice versa.

But this life is decidedly underscored by the forces of death and evil. The full extent of betrayal becomes apparent towards the end, initially being painted with naive humor. In this betrayal an entire country ad an entire people were sacrificed. The only thing that is left is memory. Memory of those one has lost during the dark years of Nazi invasion, the dark years of communism and the dark years of the recent wars. Memory of a past time, with its own rules, characters and experiences. One which humanity must never forget.

Rating 10/10

Scale: 10 MASTERPIECE, 9 Excellent, 8 Good, 7 OK, 6 Adequate, 5 Average, 4 Mediocre, 3 Poor, 2 Bad, 1 HORRIBLE
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It puts you right there, inside the circulus viciosus
ivona0219 December 2003
For anyone interested in Kusturica's work, this is my favorite. Don't get discouraged because it's set someplace you never traveled before... People are all alike. You'll recognize the patterns easily.

It tells a story how come a country which appeared to everyone inside as an uniquely ideal world (they aren't aware where they are) could abruptly dissolve in a really, really bloody war the moment that the outside interferes... And more then that: it lets you LIVE AND LEARN through this experience yourself! It tells what time heals, or can't heal. It tells a lot about people, and about powers of mass deception, and examines personal issues arising from such a condition. It talks about a different set of values, which can be understood only in a specific situation. It makes you understand the Balkans as well as any other region held together by a weird, claustrophobic mix of hundreds of years of love and war on a small piece of land, a thread so fragile that it would break if love gets any more removed from war then it ever was.

The sense of time in this movie is marvelously directed, and the reason it starts as an action flick but then at one point starts to drag towards the end is... because there is always, always a slowdown just before the next big boom/collapse; don't fight this feeling or you'll miss on the experience.

It is like the Truman Show without the Hollywood ending.

The movie is based on a play from Serbian master playwright, Dusan Kovacevic. Anything based on his plays is well worth the watching.
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An ABSOLUTELY Brilliant Film...
A Scanner Darkly8 March 2002
Underground is without a doubt, one of the very finest movies to emerge from Europe. After seeing Underground, one realizes that one has just witnessed cinema at one of it's highest levels. This movie is what "The Tin Drum" was supposed to be, and so much more. Absolutely Brilliant on all levels.
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Perfection on celluloid
Angeneer2 July 1999
If for any reason you haven't seen this masterpiece, do it now. You won't regret it. Especially if you are from the Balkan region, it is a must. The story of the last 50 years in Yugoslavia in 3 hours in a film only Emir Kusturica can do. Some scenes simply stick in your mind and cannot get out. Extremely powerful and not at all tiring, despite its duration. Definitely in my personal top 10.
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Stays with you
pixar-130 July 2003
Despite I saw it only once, and it was in '95 (I think) when it ran in theatres - I can still remember it vividly and the feelings it stirred. Can only think of a few more with such "powers" - maybe Cinema Paradiso is in the same league.

It's truly great, it takes you on a journey together with these people and you live it with them, completely believable despite the absurdities! The photo is beautiful, the music is nothing short of wonderful. No way I can rate this below 10....
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Comic approach to the drama of the Balkans
Imdbidia22 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Underground is a Serbian-France-Germany movie directed by Emir Kusturica.

It is an allegorical tragicomedy about Yugoslavia, which mixes elements of surrealism (some very Buñuel-ish moments there), comedy of the absurd, neorealism, and époque drama to offer a satirical drama about Yugoslavia - a conglomerate of nations formed by people who have lived in war, against others or against each other, for almost a century.

The movie is structured in three parts: War, Cold War, War. The first is devoted to the WW II, the second to Tito's period, and the third to the civil war that would end with the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The second part is the most interesting -and the one that gives the movie its title- as it shows in a metaphorical way how Yugoslavs related to each other, deceived each other, exploited each other, lied to each other, and how things were building up in their spirit during those years.

All the characters are well drawn, and all the actors do a great job in their respective roles. The main characters are a couple of rascal friends and a always-in-heat actress. In fact, they cannot be taken straightforward as they are three human archetypes. Marko -played by Miki Manojlovic- is the sort of people who say they have political beliefs and that they are fighting for them, when, in fact, they are using the juncture to thrive personally, despite everything and everybody. Cmi = Blacky -played by Lazar Ristovski- depicts those people who truly believe in what they preach and act accordingly, no matter what; however, they are so obsessed with their beliefs that will end being blind to reality. Finally, Natalija -played by Mirjana Jokovic- depicts those people who will always support the political regime in power, and will change and move on as the scenario does, always thriving. The counterpoint to these three is Ivan -played by Slavko Stimacy- Marko's mentally changed brother, who loves his monkey Soni more than any human and wants to hung himself all the time as he's always deceived and betrayed by everybody.

Although all the themes touched in the movie are, indeed, very serious and dramatic, Kusturica's merit is to present them in a farce, and to talk about his people showing his love-hatred feelings, his feeling that they were predetermined to end the way they did, while putting a smile in the viewer's face.

Some scenes of the movie are unforgettable because they are surreal, funny, or shocking. My two favorite ones are both at the end of the movie. The scenes at the square of the old village are terrific, visually shocking, provocative and unforgettable. The end with the "island" really explains the whole movie and contains one of the most beautiful images of the same. Some of the scenes related to the marriage of Blacky's son, the first outing of the son to the real world, and the shooting of the movie about Blacky, are also great.

Some Bosnians and French philosophers have accused the movie and Kusturica of being pro-Serbian and sending pro-Serbian messages in his movie. However, to me, Kusturica's movie is more an exercise of evaluation of the human traits of the people who amalgamated Yugoslavia, as a whole, as all of them are to blame for the disintegration of the Balkan country in a way or another. Of course, Kusturica considering himself a Serbian and Ortodox, despite being born Bosnian and Muslim, he does not mention anything about the barbaric acts committed by the Serbians. However, we see best friends killing each others... anybody who wants to understand, will. The movie rarely mentions any ethnic group.

Going now to the downs of the movie, I thought the movie was extremely long, not engaging at times. At the same time, I thought the movie looked like a TV series re color, texture of the film, and use of the camera, a thing that I don't like seeing in a proper big screen movie. And, alas, it is an adaptation for the big screen of a 5-hour TV-series. This would have not mattered if the editor had done a better job, that is, focused on the important and got rid of the superfluous. Two hours would have been more than enough to tell the same story. Otherwise, you can still watch the whole series.

I found the music overbearing and annoying, although some of the individual pieces are beautiful, but there is that choondah-choondah nyiiiiiiiiii-nyiiiiiii sort of sound all along the movie that got into my nerves. However, the music goes well with the histrionics of the characters and the craziness of the story. It is shocking that a society that seems to be so keen on partying and on celebrating, so musical, would end being at war and killing each others.

Once upon a time, there was a country... and people who were happy being together without hating each other and killing each other.

Underground is, despite the appearances, a very sad movie as speaks of social and human failure.
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Boom boom boom! Masterpiece.
pipeoxide1 December 2002
There are enough comments posted to gain an objective view on Kusturica's "Underground". I just want to say how important and epic this film is, beyond the obvious cinematic feats...especially to the Balkans. Its dialogue, its music, its protagonists and antagonists breathe with Balkan humor/ferocity. A classic. Unforgettable and heart-rendering -- but only if you can make a connection, not a movie for the (Western) masses. Even more so, the performances shine and stick in your mind. Ristovksi and Manojlovic especially! And the gypsy orchestra...Kalashnikov...the dreamy, magical realism...the last scenes? Classic! Bravo bratia Srbi!
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vanflesher28 August 2001
If you get a chance to see this projected on a sheet in an unheated high school gym with hard chairs and flat Pepsi, DON'T MISS IT. You can get a VHS copy--DO IT. (Unfortunately, there's no DVD ... YET, right, New Yorker Films?) I walked into an art house theatre in Nashville, Tennessee, no reviews, no word of mouth, just this poster of a woman wearing a red dress, her arms wrapped around the barrel of a tank's cannon. I came out one second (or was it two and half hours?) later a different person. People and movies are imperfect things--this one is messy, joyous, horrific, ecstatic, beat, danceable, romantic, provocative, drunk--this movie tastes like Slivovitz and sounds like Heaven's carnival. And there's a monkey. Once there was a country ...
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The Ethos, The Politics and The Movie
bojan-g30 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have read through all the comments to date and I agree with some of the positive ones but also with some of the negative comments to an extent. Here is my take on Underground: Firstly, if you look at the original title of the script (done by Kovacevic, NOT Kusturica) which is also given as the opening sequence line, you see that it is an allegory (the title is Once Upon A Time There Was A Country), so I don't see the point of calling the film historically wrong... It was never meant to be historically right, otherwise it would have to leave out all the consequent exaggerations so typical of Kusturica - the length of time spent in the basement, the more theatrical than movie-like acting, the visual motives and so on. This maybe a bit difficult to accept as there are some documentary sequences in there, but I see it more of a context building element than an attempt to mislead the viewer about Yugoslav history.

Secondly, people seem to like the first third of the movie for its humorous elements and I guess because they can follow the plot easily (the whole WW2 theme in the exposition, I must admit, I enjoyed as well)... The second third starts as the Allies bomb Belgrade and kill more than the Nazis did 4 years before that, so maybe the Western people are inclined to disagree with the rest based on this line, I don't know...

Thirdly, I don't see where the Serbian propaganda element kicks in ... If you think the documentary sequences of Slovenia and Croatia welcoming the Germans with glee, and Serbia fiendishly being left out, is done purposefully for slandering the Croats and Slovenes, I hate to disappoint you, but Serbia saw no such celebration, so there is nothing of that kind to show... Instead the plot balances this out as it is set in Belgrade, where the supposed wartime "heroes" of the story (never ethnically identified as Serbs) collaborate with the occupation forces when they have a personal interest in doing so, and vice versa. Again, historically there were antifascist elements throughout Yugoslavia, but it's also a fact that Croatia became a fascist independent state at the time.

Somebody mentioned the Muslim element as being totally absent, and I agree with that to an extent, but Kovacevic's novel was finished in early 1991, before the war in Bosnia escalated into what we now know. And, besides, Muslims were not considered a nation but a religious group until the end of WW2, and since there is no mention of the Caholic or Orthodox church in the movie, I don't see why there should be mention of Muslims.

I understand most Wasterners consider communism to be the Soviet kind everywhere, but I saw this movie as a commentary remark on the inequality of the proclaimed and the apparent, not of communism or Yugoslav socialism, or any -ism for that matter. Petar Popara is proclaimed an electrician, Marko Dren a poet, neither one a real politician, but both of them high ranking communists. They are petty criminals before the war who only get into the party ranks to continue their criminal activities when the war starts. Marko, the educated one, continues his criminal activities by using slave labor of the basement inhabitants to make and traffic guns after the war. He is a typical opportunist since he does this for personal gain, lies to the wretched people below that they have to do it for the war effort, and keeps Petar Popara inside in order to be with Natalija up above. This is just what makes the characters and relationships so complex, and in my opinion, the reason why this movie has a universal story. If any propaganda is shown, this one is the anti-war, anti-politician kind.

Back to the story, I especially liked the Old Man character as he is the insider. He is the only one who knows what's going on above, yet stays in the basement, he is Marko's accomplice, and he "steals time" by winding the clock backwards, which as I see it, is a comment on the Balkans always lagging behind the rest of the world based on misguided trust in people who claim to be the saviors and are "on your side." The basement youth is totally oblivious to the world, as exemplified by Jovan, Petar's son, born on the first day of the basement exodus, with the side story of going out with his dad to fight the "goddamn Germans" and not knowing the difference between the sun and the moon, based on his fathers stories and drawings(myths and realities of history as told by the idolized wise).

As for the movie being co-produced by the Serbian Broadcasting Company, I can safely say that Serbian cinematography and movie productions in the nineties were definitely not purely regime-oriented. How else would you explain RTS having co-produced Pretty Villages - Pretty Flames? Based on all this, I can't say that this movie is even in the same league as Tanovic's Oscar Winner No Man's Land someone recommended instead of Underground. That movie is a simple story of civil war told in a simple good guys - bad buys way. If I were as cynical as some other reviewers here, I could say that it was Muslim propaganda, as many other US produced movies on the Bosnian war subject, as it openly gives the impression that Serbs are the root of all evil, they are stupid and only do things if you hold a gun to their head, whereas Bosnian Muslims are fun-loving pro-Western dudes forced into waging war, but would rather listen to the Rolling Stones, and they are so altruistic that they would even help the enemy in the ditch. Talk about historically wrong...

Anyway, I gave the film a 9.
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Comrades, Join the ... Party ... Opaaaaaaa !
ElMaruecan8211 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Underground" is an epic tale of absurdity directed by Emir Kusturica using the tragedy of his motherland, who used to be called Yugoslavia, as the backdrop of the film. The history of this country can be compared to a deep wound that still can't be healed up. The land has been tortured, invaded, raped in her soul by the circumstances of History, it's still bleeding yet people never stopped to sing, to dance, to love, to believe in a brighter future. Such a personal story, so deeply rooted in Kusturica's heart, could have been told in a sad, dark and quite depressing tone, but a sad movie, "Underground" is not. And a hilarious imaginative poignant comedy, it sure is.

Emir Kusturica's Golden Palm Winner is a masterpiece of flamboyance, of decadence and non-stop dance ... a never-ending party that revisits the tragedy of History and translates it into an epic, romantic and frenetic comedy, so damn entertaining these isn't a single moment I didn't want to get up on the table and start to dance with a glass on my hand, to Goran Bergovic's incredible soundtrack. Indeed, this film is full of music, of energy, of emotions and transports us into a fantastic journey in the tragic History of Yugoslavia, following a chronological road : World War II, the Cold War and of course, the Modern War. This final act is depicted in a darker tone, to highlight the loss of every thing that made Yugoslavia, a land of hope, of optimism and fraternity. But, never letting war and death pushing our mood down, Kusturica ends the film in an apotheosis. A great finale for a great movie about life and hope, to keep a great smile in your face until the end ... which the film doesn't have, because there's less optimism with an ending than with the belief of a rebirth after the mutilation of a never-ending war.

But "Underground" isn't a documentary about this war, or about Yugoslavia. Basically, it's the story of a love triangle and an evil scheme. It starts with two men, two friends : Marko, the sympathetic opportunistic intellectual and his best friend Blacky who's just joined the Party, Blacky is an electrician, a lovable naive buffoon with a warm heart and a head made of stone. Marko and Blacky are both members of the Communist Party and resistant fighters after the partial destruction of the country by the German invasion. Those men love to drink, to dance, and more than that, they love the same woman : the actress Natalja. Natalja is a young, pretty, ambitious woman with many lovers, a Nazi officer, Blacky, her future husband and Marko her future lover. They're all flawed, exuberant, yet always sympathetic. But the lyric soul of the film is Yvan, Marko's brother, an innocent zoo guardian with a stammer and who developed a strange relationship with a monkey, Soni. He loves his brother, he's sweet and tender, and maybe he believes in animals more than men whose cruelty touched him deep in the heart. He seems to be the only who cares for what happens and carries the tragedy in his pure heart.

After liberating Blacky from the Germans, Marko hides him in the cave, "underground", until the war stops ... Then Marko, who's been previously struck by Natalja's beauty will elaborate one of the most evil schemes ever plotted in film, just to keep her. He'll make all the population who lived, who were born and grew up in the cave, participate to the War Effort by making weapons for the Resistance ... even after the Liberation when the Allies achieved to destroy what the Germans left. Ivan, hidden in the cave, doesn't know the War is over. Blacky doesn't know the Iron Curtrain is drawn now and he's a dead legend above the ground. He doesn't even know that his best friend, is very close to Tito, and a respectable member of the Party, married to Natalja, an acclaimed actress.

Natalja drowns her guilt and her loss of innocence in alcohol, she's weak but she's already been ... Natalja is a beautiful girl flirting with the enemy, married to a man, and having a love affair with another. She and Marko are both opportunistic, they understand each other. She can't hate him because he "lies so well". It's not her fault, she can't control her seductive power. Natalja is like an allegory of a beautiful country invaded numerous times during history, a country that doesn't know where her heart belongs anymore. Blacky and the poor victims of Comrade Marko lived in a cave during the Communism years, did they really miss more than those who lived above the ground ? The scheme is so evil Marko has an accomplice who found a trick to make time go slower, like life in an oppressive time make it seem slower. A diabolical absurd scheme, but no more or no less than the reality ... what better alibi for absurdity than war? Hot or Cold? War is ABSURD enough to inspire such acts ... The story is simply a fascinating metaphor of the more serious tragic fate of Kusturica's bruised motherland.

But despite this sadness, the movie is about hope, joy and optimism ... these are the happiest and most cheerful people you'll see in a film, even during War, even when they fight, even in a cave, living years and years without seeing the sunlight, don't prevent them from amusement, dances, laughs, plays and everything that makes life worth to live ... the movie is a big Prison you never want to escape from. It's thrilling to watch, it's an optimistic tale for a tragic story ... you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll laugh and laugh and shout and fight and dance and have an extraordinary cinematic experience ....

So, comrades, just have a glass and join the "party" ... Opaaaaaaaa!
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It IS a great movie
vvane_1416 May 2005
Although I understand perfectly why some people would not like it. It is a little long and if you try to make sense of it you may be very frustrated... my advise is just to watch it and let the story flow... I have read that someone in this forum says there is no main character... I believe the main character is Yugoslavia, and I am a Mexican, living in Mexico, you don't need to be European to understand about the terror of the war and to feel sympathy for the people that have lived the war and the uncertainty of a situation that doesn't seem to have an end. May very well be a cultural thing, I just feel this is a great movie, funny at times, tragic at other times that shows the miseries of the human weakness. My two cents.
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The best film I've ever seen!
Axel Emesiz25 April 2001
A real wonderful film of a genious director.I can comment on it only in this way. I live in Armenia and perhaps, you may say,cannot understand the meaning of "Underground".But no,I see.Sure not like a Jugoslavian,but I understand all the tragedy of this country. I saw "Underground" first when I was 11 years old,but it made so much impression on me that I was,to tell the truth,really shocked.There are many people who say that it isn't worth watching.But I see,I don't judge them.It's just a bit difficult for a simple person to understand the whole meaning of it. To my mind there've been certain great films,such as "8 1/2" by Fellini,"The collour of granate" by Paradjianov,"Dersou Ozala" by Akira Kurosava,etc.But "Underground" is the film which is the dearest to me,and till now I haven't seen anything more tragic,genious and beautiful. Thank you,Emir Kusturica,for "Underground"!
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A work of cinematic genius
bridiej9 January 2001
Before seeing Underground my choice of favorite movie was always changing, almost on a weekly basis...but for the last three years now Underground has taken the number one spot on my list. I truly believe that it is the finest example of film to date. It has the most unique plot of any movie I have seen, and really deserves to be called an epic. Never have all the elements of movie making blended so well together then in Underground. The characters are so memorable, the acting is superb, the dialogue is unbelievably intriguing, and the cinematography, sets and scenes are a delicious eye full. Underground is a comedy, a drama, a documentary, a fantasy, and a history lesson all rolled into one. It is so full of life and bravado that it actually leaves you breathless, it is the "People's" folktale, and the music is FANTASTIC!! Please see Underground if you haven't already, it will change the way you look at movies.
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The touch of a genious- An ode to peace
Dimitris Moschovos14 November 2001
Kusturica offers us one of the greatest films in cinema's history. An ode to peace as well as a display of the tragedy of war and the vanity of human nature. And Kusturica really knows a lot about human nature the complexity of which he manages to expose in this masterpiece that is called "Underground", using a great but tragic sense of humor.

Kusturica comes from Balkans, where people have suffered a lot through the centuries and maybe that's why he knows the true face of war so well. Perhaps only if you have lived the war you consider the value of peace.>
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It's hard to put it into words, but I will try.
ewa4 August 2005
Undoubtedly it's really hard to write about such unusual film as Underground. In my opinion it is almost defies to description. Probably I will always be lost of admiration for it. I have seen many very good films, but only few of them put a spell on me. Frankly, this is the only film, which makes me cry. It's extremely moving and it seems to be quite inaccessible. As a matter of fact, this is the most pessimistic film I've ever seen, although some scenes makes me laugh. Underground is full of symbols and metaphors, some of them are very unclear and ambiguous. Specific atmosphere and sometimes metaphysical or surreal visions make this film so uncommon. Climate of Underground is also made up by beautiful music. Moreover it show us colourful and very romantic local culture. However all these elements are only the background for not so optimistic and rather dismal massage. Through this tangle of expressive images we can see tragic and tumultuous history of Yugoslavia. I think it's some kind of nonsense, that such wonderful film was made under the influence of tragic events, like wars and communism. This film helps to understand, which values are truly important, it show as cruel world, where nobody is really happy. All people suffer, but only several of them are guilty. I find Underground brilliant, but I perceive it like someone, whose country suffered from World Wars and totalitarianism. Maybe that's why this films made such huge impression on me. Everyone should watch it, even though it could be hard to understand for a first time.
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Original and superb
Tim Wilcox14 December 2011
Whatever the underlying symbolism to do with the breakup of Yugoslavia, this film is a true great. The casting is fantastic and the acting craps all over the garbage I see in the cinema. I could not help but love every character in this movie

I don't care about the historical accuracy or political connotations (though I would maybe feel differently if I was from that part of the world), to me it's like a celebration of life and all the grief that comes with it. If you have partisan feelings I would simply advise you to shelve them and admire the art instead.

Watch it.
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