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Milutin 'Mima' Karadzic,
Story follows young man Strahinja who is in love with a local beauty Radojka, but their relationship has an obstacle - her father Zivan, who considers Strahinja as nothing but a loser. To prove that he's able to take care of himself and his future bride, Strahinja agrees to take vacancy in village mill... But, mill is known as a place where no one meets the dawn alive... Written by
This Serbian, made for TV movie, tells the folkloric tale of a 19th century rural village, seeped in superstitious paranoia. There are tales of Sava Savanovic who died at least a century ago; his myth embroiled with vampiric tendencies. In the opening scene the village miller, Vule (Toma Kuruzovic), sleeps in the isolated mill. through a montage of close-ups we see staring eyes, surrounded by dirty skin; an ash- blackened hand, adorned with long, sharp finger nails, dip in the flour; sharp teeth are exposed, not in the traditional fang image of western vampire lore, but a full front row of stalactite-like gnasher's. Vule has his throat ripped out. With the discovery of the body, we are informed that this is the fourth miller to die within a year, and the speculation of a vampire murderer is brought forward.
Strahinja (Petar Bozovic) is a very poor local, who is in love with the very beautiful Radojka (Mirjana Nikolic), daughter of the ill-tempered farmer, Zivan (Slobodan Perovic). Strahinja has asked permission of the farmer for her hand in marriage, which he bitterly denies. After this severe knock-back, Straninja decides his only option is to leave the village for good. On his way out, he is stopped by the locals, who convince him to take the miller job. He stays the night there, and is visited by the vampire, only he is not killed. The villagers gather to try to hunt down the monster.
Vampire films are so incredibly prevalent at this moment in time, but most do not hold any form of atmosphere. Leptirica has it in spades. The rural setting offers an eerie sense of doom, with sound created with the sounds of screeching owls. The eccentricities of the villagers reminded me of some of the comedy characters in a Kurosawa film. The sense of isolation in the remote village is palpable also, lending the film an aura of horror. As the film was made for TV, it only runs for a little over an hour, and I felt that it would have benefited from a slightly longer running time. But this aside, I was surprised with the entire narrative, and its simplicity makes it an enjoyable experience. The films title translates into English as Butterfly, which has its meaning exposed in the last moments. Whilst it is clear who the vampire is early on in the film, it does not diminish the climax, which is gaudy, but strangely haunting.
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