Life is a Miracle

Director: Emir Kusturica

France-Serbia and Montenegro| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 155 min.

There is enough inventiveness in Emir Kusturica’s new ?lm to keep another director in plots for a decade. Tracing the entanglements that befall Bosnia-based Serbian engineer Luka (Slavko Stimac) and his family after the outbreak of war in 1992, Life Is a Miracle is a comic celebration of Balkan joie de vivre and the beauty of the Bosnian countryside; a story of one man’s obsessive dream and the havoc that it wreaks on those around him; a forceful and ironic polemic against conventional readings of the politics of the break-up of Yugoslavia; and a tragic tale of impossible love which makes explicit allusion to Shakespeare.
Perhaps the most extraordinary manifestation of the energy and con?dence driving the ?lm is its deployment of a cast of performing animals. Life Is a Miracle contains sheep and hens, ducks and geese, a horse that enters the hero’s living room, a dog that ?ies through the window of a moving car and a cat that shares one character’s breakfast and mesmerises a pigeon to death. . . . The comic affection with which Kusturicatreats his animal participants extends to the human cast and the ?lm is full of vivid portraits, from Luka’s sad, crazed, opera-singer wife Jadranka (Vesna Trivalic), to a host of memorable minor ?gures, including chess-playing postman Veljo, constant purveyor of bad news, a thuggish and gluttonous mayor, Radovan, and the odious Filipovic, blown up while boasting of his prowess as ‘the Serbian stallion’. Most interesting and complex of all is the idealistic Luka, whose dream is overtaken by history and whose sudden, poleaxing love for his captive Sabaha (Natasa Solak) complicates his attempts to save his beloved son Milos (Vuk Kosti).

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