Belgrade International Film Festival

"Dust" by Milcho Manchevsky

Manchevsky's first film "Before Rain" (1994), received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, winning more than one award in international festivals, as well. "Dust" is his second film, where he has gathered an English cast, including Joseph Fiennes, David Wenham, and Anne Brochet."Dust" jumps from one time to another, from one continent to another, from one culture to another, creating extreme confusion for the viewers. It follows a tale told by an old lady in New York, a tale that goes back way into the past, 100 years ago, in the Balkans, during the war between Orthodox Christians and invading Turks in Macedonia. This is a story about two brothers falling in love with one woman. When the girl makes up her mind in favor of the older brother, the younger one, desperate, runs away as far as he can, to Macedonia. He runs to Eastern Europe, where he becomes a cold-hearted gold-digger, a mercenary caught up between two sides. The local Macedonian revolution becomes his personal fight when he meets a young pregnant Macedonian woman called Neda.

It is quite clear that this film is made for immigrants from Yugoslavia, living in the USA. The film is a mixture of everything and nothing, as if a history lesson was meant to be taught but was eventually cut from the program, because of the lack of student interest. The most suggestive part of the film, is when the old lady, living in modern New York, forces a young black robber to listen to her green-green-grass-of-home story, with the pistol pointed at his head. I must congratulate the director on an interesting ending, when the old lady dies, leaving loads of money to the street robber, as a reward for "listening." The film is a mix of an immigrant's sense of humour, combined with a political history lesson,presented to a modern American audience. Lesson about wars in the territory of Balkan, 100 years ago.

It sounds all right when you think of Joseph Fiennes playing a main part. But this is how he looks in the film. Imagine the middle of nowhere, full of scattered, slashed human bodies, and the desperate screams of unlucky warriors, with no legs and arms, blood everywhere. And now imagine an American John Wayne look-alike cowboy from cowboy movies of the ?60s, standing in the middle, watching in silence the blood spill around him.Well, yes, that ?Oh-sorry-I'm-just-a-beholder? look, really looks silly.What is that American cowboy looking for in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by an army of Turks and Orthodox Christian Mcedonian peasants, looking like he just wandered in from some other movie? His presence in this story is summed up: ?I'm-just-the-lonely-rider-and-I-won't-fight-someone-else's-wars-because-I-have-enough-of-my-own, looking for, [of course], gold in the rocky Macedonian mountains.?

Well, I wonder who bothered to finance this let?s-educate-the-world story? This film should be labeled "Lonely Riders Only."



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