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Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1979. While Yugoslav president Tito is in Cuba settling international matters, a mysterious Phantom occupies the attention and hearts of Belgrade. Every night, he exhibits spectacular driving maneuvers using a stolen white Porsche car through the city streets. Through the radio the Phantom publicly challenges the police to try and catch him. More than 10.000 people are in the streets supporting their hero. The police are forced into a game where he sets the rules. The Phantom becomes a political threat. What started as a game turned into a political scandal and remained a myth that would never be forgot. Written by
One driver vs whole city police, one man against the system or both?
Great and unique movie. Even better if you know the background. To understand the "term" phantom in movie context you got to understand the real events that this film is depicting: I was only eight years old when phantom was chased by whole Belgrade police in Porsche he stole. I lived in one of the downtown streets of Belgrade where the Phantom was making fun of police in the famous chases, but I had never heard of him until the 80's (and be aware of the fact that kids know everything). For a good reason, since this sort of vigilante wasn't popular in such regime. It was Tito's regime of tyranny and fear when it comes to freedom of speech or even loud thinking. Police was right hand of such regime and strangler of every free thought. In order to give the clear message to the people, police was brutal and often judge and jury. You could be beaten and locked for giving a wrong look to the police officer in the street, without real chance to complain thereafter. In such country, police had no enemies, and police itself could be everybody's enemy if the one was not cautious. In such country, there was no crime. If any, SA police was always successful in getting criminals to justice and always very quick. This is why nobody wanted to take their chances against Tito's Praetorians. Nobody except Belgrade Phantom. We can only guess why this guy stole that Porsche and mocked whole almighty police of Belgrade for ten days in the heart of the communistic police state. Was he the guy who worshiped Ryan O'Neal as a "Driver"? Or a guy who just wanted to see how good car Porsche really is? We don't know that for sure but tend to doubt these. I think that the previous are cases when the event character wants to appropriate thing he has stolen or use for the reasons of material or other personal benefit, and Porsche at that time would certainly be good for that. However he definitely didn't steel the Porsche to make profit out of it. So, we know that he use it to baffle the police. Did he do that for personal reasons? Like only because he could? Many people today believe that he used it as a tool of his resistance that encapsulated suppressed reluctance to repression of every free minded citizen in that time Belgrade. That includes not only the ordinary eye witnesses that gathered in downtown to hail him every night, but many among police officers. In the country of poltroons and silent listeners in all social structures including army, media and diplomacy, he used the only skill he had to shake the system: driving. Even if his motives were completely different, Belgrade citizens of that time identified with him exactly for that reason and this is what we today love to believe. The movie tries to bring you the recreation of the event without casual manipulating in leading to final conclusion. That is performed by pretty unique combination of documentary cinema verite and feature film, almost perfectly. Downside is bad acting of minor roles. Also, casting could be better especially when it comes to leading role. All in all big 9 and must see, if you ask me!
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