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The Battle of Neretva (1969)

Bitka na Neretvi (original title)
World war two drama about the 1943 battle around the Neretva River between Axis forces and Yugoslav partisan units.


Veljko Bulajic


Stevan Bulajic (story), Ratko Djurovic (story) | 5 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Yul Brynner ... Vlado
Hardy Krüger ... Kranzer
Franco Nero ... Riva
Sylva Koscina ... Danica
Orson Welles ... Senator
Curd Jürgens ... Lohring
Anthony Dawson ... Morelli
Milena Dravic ... Nada
Sergey Bondarchuk ... Martin (as Sergej Bondarcuk)
Ljubisa Samardzic ... Novak
Velimir 'Bata' Zivojinovic ... Stole (as Bata Zivojinovic)
Boris Dvornik Boris Dvornik ... Stipe
Oleg Vidov ... Nikola
Pavle Vuisic Pavle Vuisic ... Sofer
Howard Ross Howard Ross ... Mario (as Renato Rossini)


Battle on Neretva known as the ''fourth offensive'' the most humane battle in World War II led by Yugoslav partisans. In January 1943 German army, afraid of Allied invasion of Balkans, launched great offensive against Yugoslav Partisans in Western Bosnia.They encircle the mountain and begin the mop up operation. Out gunned and outnumbered the partisans must not only take care of themselves but try to protect thousands of refugees too. Providing a heroic resistance, multiple superior enemy partisans advancing towards the only remaining bridge over the Neretva river, through which they intend to transfer himself and wounded at free territory. Therefore, all the shock decision of the Supreme Headquarters to demolish the bridge, but it is just as foolish ruse to weaken the enemy forces on the other side of the river. Movie Battle of Neretva is usually the most famous work by the Yugoslav film industry has produced. Written by krule88

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They fought the most terrible war machine in man's history See more »


Drama | History | War


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


When a railway bridge was to be blown up, director Veljko Bulajic wanted it to look as real as possible, and thought that it would serve as a tourist attraction after the shoot. A full-scale replica railway bridge was built in Jablanica and blown up, but the smoke from the blast prevented any visible and usable shots. The bridge was then repaired, re-built for a second time and blown up again, with the same result. Finally, to capture the bridge being blown up, a small-scale miniature model was used. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Lohring: Keep this well in mind: any partisan you are tempted to spare will be glad to show you his gratitude for your sentimentality with a hand grenade or a couple of well aimed bullets.
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Crazy Credits

At the Neretva in occupied Europe, we fought one of the most celebrated and the most heroic battles for the wounded. Here was decided the fate of the Revolution. Here was victorious the brotherhood and unity of our peoples. Tito See more »

Alternate Versions

The Serbian DVD version is 160 minutes long and is a significantly different cut from any other DVD or video releases. There is no opening map and narration. The musical score is the original Vladimir Kraus-Rajteric score which kicks in very rarely. The scenes are rearranged so that Welles makes his speech to the troops near the beginning and the air attack hits Bihac simultaneously with the land battle. Almost every dialog scene is lengthened and cut slower than the English version, but there are some parts of the action scenes cut a lot tighter. For instance, this is missing the scene where Riva falls out of the truck during the Italian retreat. It is also missing the scene in the Orthodox church prior the Welles addressing the Chetniks. However, it does feature several new scenes, most notably a scene where Vasco raids a house in Prosor only to then shoot and wound his own commander, and then a second battle between the Partisans and the Italians. In this scene, Riva refuses to fire at his own men and Novak almost shoots him only for Martin to intervene. General Morelli is captured and then promptly commits suicide with a pistol. There is also a new scene where the partisans surprise attack a group of Chetniks guarding the Neretva bridge. There are several more violent shots missing from other prints - such as the Ustashans hanging an old woman and laughing when they march through Bihac. There are several more deaths during the end battle with the Chetniks such as a partisan being shot in the back when reaching for a grenade. Then at the end of the battle there is a scene where a partisan named 'Stipe' goes crazy and guns down a number of Chetnik prisoners, only to have his rank stripped from him. Curiously almost all the nationalities speak their own language; with Riva speaking Italian even with his Yugoslavian captors and Morelli speaking in German when addressing General Lohring. The only actors dubbed appear to be Yul Brynner and Orson Welles. See more »


Referenced in The Wounds (1998) See more »

User Reviews

Rare gem among the communist films
1 June 2004 | by zzmaleSee all my reviews

What is so great about this movie is its near matter-of-fact portray of the reality of the war, namely, the bloody defeats and suffering of the partisan army. This honest portray of what really happened in the past history is often taken for granted in movies made in west, but it is extremely rare in the eastern blocks, including the former-Yugoslavia, that is until this movie was made.

The movie was based on the historical facts of German attack on the Yugoslavian Communist bases, including inflicting great casualties on the partisan army, and in addition, the logistic parts of the partisan army, such as the central hospital, and heavy equipment, such as artillery and vehicles, were completely lost. However, German failed their original objective of eliminating the partisan army once for all in one decisive blow, despite the fact wiping out every partisan base and inflicting significant casualties on partisans:

Tito narrowly escaped the German spear head of the assault, and successfully planned and lead the remaining forces to break out, opening new fronts in Bosnia after escaping, and eventually establishing a new base there. For this reason, this battle was considered a victory by partisans because they escaped the total annihilation, and with the tiny surviving force, they eventually recovered and fight to their final victory.

This movie is an relatively accurate portrait of the extremely difficult breaking out attempts and the eventual success of the partisan army, a technical defeat but a strategic victory. In comparison to other war flicks made in communist countries, such as that of former-USSR, Romania, Vietnam, and North Korea, this movie presented the facts that most communist regime would rather not want to talk about: the heavy casualties of communist army and its cause: the inabilities of the commanders to make the best decision at the right moment at the place.

In the war flicks made in the other communist countries listed above, the heroes never dies, and their commanders never makes mistakes, and the enemy was always stupid and incapable. This movie honestly admits that the enemy is not only better equipped, but is equally capable if not better Tito's commanders. The German war fighting capabilities were given proper credit.

In this sense, this movie is the Yugoslavian equivalent of The Longest Day, made in USA, in which Germans were treated as they were -- human beings and professional soldiers who did their job despite the failure of their high command. Although there are still obvious one-sided scenes due to obvious political reasons, such as the world is bleeding when a partisan was killed, the movie is far better than any others made in the communist countries and for its honest description of the history, it deserves a perfect ten.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:



Yugoslavia | Italy | West Germany | USA

Release Date:

7 October 1969 (Yugoslavia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Battle of the River Neretva See more »


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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