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A youth has a burning ambition to be a pilot, but this is met with opposition by his mother because his father, also a pilot, was killed in a jet-fighter crash in a storm. The youth goes ahead with his career but one day he encounters a bad storm.
Yugoslav Top Gun made five years prior to Tony Scott's
'Daleko nebo' is a film by Stjepan Cikes who is mostly known for documentaries. Cikes was employed by Yugoslav Army Film Company and his field of work were aviation documentaries. Thus it comes as no surprise that he directed 'Daleko nebo' a film that can easily be described as 'Top Gun' before actual 'Top Gun'. This is a propaganda piece about a young MiG-21 pilot who experiences a traumatic flight and the tension triggers memories of his lifelong fascination with flight. Among other things this memories include clashes with his mother who tried to prevent him from entering Yugoslav Air Force School in Mostar since his father died as a Yugoslav Army pilot. Afterwards, in school he faces other pressures coming from the fact that his father is a legend among Yugoslav Army pilots. 'Daleko nebo' essentially threads the same path like 'Top Gun'. Both Maverick and the lead character in 'Daleko nebo' share a trauma of loss and thus join a long line of similar inspirational tales. Not unlike Maverick the young pilot in 'Daleko nebo' is an adrenaline junkie at his core and proves it by performing unwarranted parachute jumps and above all by trying to land a malfunctioning plane - a feat that cost his father dearly. Maverick's girl is a teacher a highly fetishistic position in such a male dominated environment while in 'Daleko nebo' the girl is a ballet dancer, quite a bit fetishist occupation in its own right. However, 'Daleko nebo' differs form 'top Gun' by its lack of jingoism. Unlike Maverick who is sent to dogfight with enemy aircraft, Yugoslav heron is sent to inspect an UFO that turns out to be a weather balloon. Eventually, even with all its fetishism it doesn't glamorize Air Force and it is hardly a film that managed to draw some new applicants for Military Academies. Unlike Hollywood, Yugoslav cinema had propagandist agendas that were so scrupulous that at certain point they became ineffective. Cikes on the other hand was a third-rate director and he definitely wasn't the right man for this job. In collaboration with DP Petar Lalovic he managed to capture some classy aerial shots. However, he used a lot of documentary footage and a lot of it matches quite poorly with the rest of the material. Mig-21 is an airplane that rarely starred in a film and Cikes isn't the one to put it on the map like Tony Scott did with F-14. Some details like very spooky astronaut-like suits worn by Mig-21 pilots get lost in Cikes's depiction. Score by Ksenija Zecević cannot exactly match Giorgio Moroder's hipness so the film is burdened by an ethnic-influenced score that really doesn't work out. 'Daleko nebo' is an ideal companion piece to Dejan Sorak's 'Najbolji' because both films were propaganda features about virtues of Yugoslav People's army. However, 'Najbolji' was actually made under exact influence of 'Top Gun' even if its plot is more reminiscent of 'Heartbreak Ridge'. In essence, Yugoslav cinema had quite a lot of success with war films but it fared rather poorly when it came to films about virtues of contemporary military cadre. Military service is an important part of Yugoslav collective memories since it was obligatory but when it comes to cinema, best films about it are those that are actually criticizing it.
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