Monday, August 23, 2010

Srdjan Karanovic - Petrijin Venac AKA Petria's Wreath (1980)

Movie Synopsis: This film takes place in a small mining town in Serbia, within a time span covering the prewar, war, and postwar period. "Petria's wreath" is a story about the tragic life of an illiterate woman from village, about her life with three men she loved. Her life, torn between dreams and reality, is a life of suffering, loneliness, disappointment, hope and love.

In 1996, members of the Yugoslavian Board of the Academy of Film Art and Science (AFUN) voted this film the eighth best Serbian movie in 1947-1995 period.
International festivals: Venice, La Rochelle, Montpelier, Amsterdam


Published: February 6, 1983, The New York Times

''Petria's Wreath'' tells of a Serbian woman and her life of almost unbearable hardship, presenting her story in a style that is resolutely plain. Even when events in this story (which is based on a novel by Dragoslav Mihajlovic) are at their most crushingly sad, the film retains a simple dignity that can be quite haunting.

As the film begins, Petria is an old peasant woman living in a cottage with some cats and cheerfully observing that after the third brandy things always begin to look better. This, it turns out, is about as happy as she ever is during the course of the story.

The credits for ''Petria's Wreath'' (the title is never directly explained), at the Lincoln Plaza 2, show a photograph of the old Petria being cut and pasted and tinted until it is the rosy image of a young woman. This is one of the few whimsical touches from Srdjan Karanovic, whose direction is otherwise rather spare.

The film moves chronologically through the various tragedies of Petria's life, which include an ill-fated first marriage, the loss of two children and the inability to bear others, banishment by one husband and no better luck with another. Through all the illness and death that plague Petria's loved ones, she maintains a quiet perseverance, although she becomes understandably superstitious at times. At the burial of one child, Petria and her husband force a live chicken into the grave, hoping it will spare them any further sorrow. It doesn't.

Mirjana Karanovic, the actress who plays Petria, brings a sturdiness devoid of self-pity to all these grim events, which are meant to unfold against a backdrop of political and economic change. Parades of young Communists march through Petria's village during that part of the story set in the 1950's, and they eventually close the business of a kindly tavern owner who has been Petria's friend. The changing fortunes of the region's coal miners also figure peripherally in the story, although the film's central focus remains firmly fixed on Petria herself. Her own difficulties provide more than enough woe, upheaval and deprivation, and her endurance emerges as something of a minor miracle.

Legendary Pavle Vujisic:

English and Slovenian subs:
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