A classic of Croatian cinema and director Ante Babaja’s most important film, THE BIRCH TREE is inspired by a folk painting which recounts the tragic death of a beautiful but frail peasant girl, Janica (Manca Košir), who is metaphorically linked to the slender and vulnerable birch tree.
Using the unsparing naturalist approach, garnished with grotesque ideas, modernist narration broken into pieces and the anthological “existentialist” countdown “… jedna pura, dva pandura, svakom dojde smrtna vura”, Babaja made this highly suggestive film about the misery of human existence and the unusual vulnerability of those individuals who stand out from the tyrannical and mediocre masses. Brilliant and beautiful lensing by Tomislav Pinter, one of the most renowned Croatian cameramen. A portrait of the peasant life laced with tragedy, humor and sentiment.
Ante Babaja (6 October 1927 – 14 January 2010) was a notable Croatian film director and screenwriter.
Babaja finished high school in Zagreb before going on to enrol at the University of Zagreb where he studied law and economy. He started working in filmmaking in 1949, and his first job was as assistant director to Krešimir Golik on the making of Golik’s 1950 feature film Blue 9 (Plavi 9). Babaja’s directorial debut was the 1955 documentary short Jedan dan u Rijeci. He went on to film several short films before directing is first feature film The King’s New Clothes (Carevo novo ruho) in 1961, a screen adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s short tale.
In the mid 1960s Babaja made several experimental documentary films, before filming The Birch Tree (Breza, 1967), his most well known film which is today regaded as one of the classic films of Croatian cinema. In the following decades Babaja turned to directing documentary films and only made a handful of feature films. Nevertheless… read more