At the very beginning of the World War I, Filip, a Serb and the principal of a gymnasium in a small Serbian town, is summoned urgently to Belgrade to serve in the war effort. He has no one ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Azem (as Miki Manojlovic)
Iva Krajnc ...
Lea
Radivoje Bukvic ...
Porucnik Jevrem
Nebojsa Dugalic ...
Filip
Ana Kostovska ...
Uciteljica
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Slobodan Filipovic ...
Gendarme
Radivoj Knezevic
Nikola Krneta ...
Soldier
Jovo Maksic ...
Mane
Ferenc Péter ...
Mita
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Storyline

At the very beginning of the World War I, Filip, a Serb and the principal of a gymnasium in a small Serbian town, is summoned urgently to Belgrade to serve in the war effort. He has no one to leave his wife Lea with. She is a young and pretty Slovenian woman, a teacher of rhythmics and dance he met while studying in Western Europe. Azem, an illiterate, patriarchal Albanian, the school custodian, gives Filip his solemn oath, his 'Besa' (in the Albanian tradition: when someone gives their word which must be kept even if they lose their life in the process) that he would look after Lea and see to it that nothing happened to her. Two Europeans, from two entirely different cultures and habits are forced to an awkward cohabitation in the empty school. While the war rages in the background and gets menacingly closer, their interaction develops from hatred, through intolerance, to tolerance and an unusual friendship. Circumstances gradually draw Lea and Azem, a Christian woman and a Muslim ... Written by Anonymous

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Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Besa - Az adott szó  »

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1.85 : 1
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Trivia

Official submission of Serbia for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Word of honour tempted by hopelessly budding forbidden love

It has taken almost a year and a half before Lea has fully understood the responsibility, resolve, dedication and devotion, ergo the true nature of the ultimately tempting and utmost sacrificial personal protection she's been subjected to...

The year is 1914, when young couple of school teachers, a Serb Filip (Nebojsa Dugalic) and a Slovenian Lea (Iva Krajnc), find themselves working in the secondary school of the south Serbian provincial town, himself as a principal and herself as a teacher of rhythmics and dance. On the outbreak of the war, initially declared by Austro-Hungarian Empire to Serbia, eventually escalating to become the WW1, Filip is instantly called up by military and sent to Belgrade to serve in the forthcoming war effort, leaving thus his young and attractive wife alone. Having no one else to turn to, he asks Azem (Miki Manojlovic), the school custodian, to take care of her. Being a patriarchal Albanian, by accepting to do so, he gives to Filip his pledge, 'besa', to look after and protect Lea. In Albanian tradition such a word of honour is so obliging, that--in order to hold to it--one would even stake his life on it.

Suddenly Lea finds herself in dire straits, and not only for being worried enough about the whole war situation, as well as for extensive detachment from her husband, but even more for becoming practically a prisoner to this simple Albanian (Arnaut in local language), overzealous to keep his word and protect her. On top of it, local community suspects her of spying for enemy. Namely, Slovenia, at the time, was part of Austro-Hungarian Empire... Fortunately, not before long Azem gains her full trust, because it becomes obvious that he's the best chance she could ever have in order to survive through the most difficult times, with her integrity preserved and honour untarnished.

However, by having their interaction evolving towards gaining mutual trust and respect, they start playing with the fire that could've easily been ignited by what clearly appeared to be a spark of forbidden love between two people from such profoundly different backgrounds: well educated Christian woman, brought up as a Catholic, ergo having enough to deal with already, due to her marriage and conversion to Orthodoxy, and an almost illiterate man, yet, for all he knew, a traditional practicing Moslem… Dealing with multitude of intertwined questions about cultural and ethnic differences, religious and language barriers, social and class divisions, the ultimate question arises: whether the given word will stand the challenge of apparently honest and true, yet unexpected and forbidden love budding?

With his well known, fluent narrative style, adding frequent spontaneous comic relieves even when dealing with heaviest subjects, director Srdjan Karanovic in his latest movie, "Besa" (2009), tells another, apparently, almost a centennial old, true life events inspired, engaging story, yet describing an infinitely older, nowhere-near-to-resolution conflict, and therefore, in its essence, still remaining right up to date and very well worth of contemporary audience's time and interest. Slovenian actress Iva Krajnc has fully justified her engagement in this complex role of Lea, while Miki Manojlovic, having had impersonated already, throughout his rich acting career, a multitude of individuals, most naturally predominantly of his own, Serbian but also Bosnian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Roma(ni)… origins, has added yet another among numerous Balkans ethnicities to the spectrum of the characters he has successfully brought on to the screen.


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