Tito's break-up with Stalin in 1948 marked the beginning of not only confusing, but also very dangerous years for many hard-core Yugoslav communists. A careless remark about the newspaper cartoon is enough for Mesha to join many arrested unfortunates. His family is now forced to cope with the situation and wait for his release from prison. The story is told from the perspective of Malik, his young son who believes the mother's story about father being "away on business".Written by
Dragan Antulov <email@example.com>
The Malkoc family are Bosnian Muslims, which is why the boys are being circumcised at their age. The Petrovic family are Serbs, while Ankica Vidmar and Franjo are Croats (probably Catholic). The Liakhovs are Russians, exiled because of their opposition to Stalin. See more »
In the wedding banquet scene, the cake is hit and damaged by a football. A few moments later, it is shown intact again. See more »
I was very impressed with When Father was Away on Business; it is more coherent and moving than Black Cat, White cat, which I saw last week. The family structure is very well evoked, with three generations living in the house. The grandfather just wants to be left out of politics--for him Hitler and Stalin are pretty much the same. Mesa and Sena, the couple doomed to be separated for two years, are up to their ears in party machinations. Zijo, the brother in law, has sent Mesa to the mines for re-education, because his soon-to-be wife Ankica denounced the feckless Mesa when he wouldn't divorce Sena to marry her. In a totalitarian state, a lot depends on not annoying your relatives.
Miki Manojlovic is great as Mesa; he reminds me of Raimu occasionally. The wedding scene, when he effects a reconciliation with Zijo, is very poignant. Slobodan Aligrudic plays Cekic, the party boss who oversees Mesa's rehabilitation and finally sends him home to Sarajevo: he is affable (always wants to share a drink, play chess and so on) but the brutality is always close to the surface. Little Malik, the boy who tries to make sense of what the adults are doing, communicates a lot of joy and sorrow.
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