Sunday, July 25, 2004

Restart of Beautiful Friendship

Boris Dvornik and Velimir "Bata" Živojinović (Velimir "Bata" Zivojinovic) used to be among the top four movie stars of former Yugoslavia. Their prolific careers (especially in case of Živojinović, who had more than 100 roles to his credit) often meant that two of them would appear together. During those shoots, especially in case of prestigious WW2 spectacles like Neretva and Sutjeska,  two of them developed close friendship.

This beautiful friendship endured for many years, but it couldn't late 1980s and early 1990s. Just like many people in those times, Dvornik suddenly remembered that he was Croat and Živojinović remembered that he was Serb. This realisation was followed by very public and very spectacular renunciation of their friendship. They made public appeals to each other, called each other all kinds of names, promised that their friendship was over and asked all their countrymen to follow their example. Both actors used their respective charismas to enter politics and earn parliamentary seats as loyal supporters of ruling nationalist regimes – Živojinović as representative of Milošević's (Milosevic's) SPS and Dvornik as representative of Tudjman's HDZ.

In the next couple years many of those who had listened to Dvornik and "Bata" lost their lives, health and property. This war, like all wars, came to an end and former enemies were forced not only to heal their wounds but also to rebuild burned bridges.

Even people like Dvornik and "Bata" couldn't escape this process. Few days ago Croatian media was full of stories about their tearful reunion and promise that they would be friends again. "Bata" made few statements trying to explain some of his most inflammatory remarks from the past as "a result of manipulation".

It is really touching to see old friends reunite. Restart of their friendship, unfortunately, won't be as spectacular as its tragic. This is mostly due to bad timing. This event is overshadowed by more spectacular (although, in practical terms, less meaningful) reopening of the Old Bridge in Mostar. Unlike the Mostar ceremony, which was nothing more than self-congratulatory gesture of international bureaucrats, reunion of "Bata" and Dvornik really means that people of former Yugoslavia are in the process of leaving their violent past behind.


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