Director Predrag Antonijević returned to direct the script written by scriptwriter Natasa Drakulic in Dara of Jasenovac . With a story line written based on the confessions of survivors, Dara of Jasenovacis the first film that tells the story of various acts of war crimes that took place in the Jasenovac concentration camp established by the Ustaše regime of the Independent State of Croatia in the Slavonia region, Croatia during World War II. Also known as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans” thanks to its barbaric behavior and high number of victims, which reminds many of the holocaust that took place in the German army-made Auschwitz concentration camp, the Jasenovac concentration camp which operated from 1941 to 1945 is predicted to have killed more than one hundred thousand human lives, most of whom came from ethnic Serbs, Jews, and Romans.
The storyline of Dara of Jasenovac itself focuses on a ten year old girl, Dara Ilic ( Biljana ekić ), who along with her mother, Nada Ilic ( Anja Stanić ), her older sister, Jovo Ilic ( Marko Pipić ), her younger sister, Bude Ilic ( Luka aranović, Jakov aranović , and Simon aranović), as well as hundreds of people, mostly ethnic Serbs, who were brought by the troops of the Ustaše regime to enter and live in the Jasenovac concentration camp they had built. There, Dara Ilic witnessed the cruelty of the Ustaše regime troops who did not hesitate to carry out acts of violence and even killed the inhabitants of the concentration camp – including women and children. Misfortune befell Dara Ilic’s family when her mother and sister became victims of the cruelty of the Ustaše regime troops. Alone, Dara Ilic is determined to become a strong figure in order to protect her sister who is now the only family she still has.
It’s hard not to talk and give a comparison between Dara of Jasenovac and Jasmila banić’s film, Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020). If Dara of Jasenovac tells about war crimes committed by Croatian soldiers against Serbs, then Quo Vadis, Aida? Instead, it tells the story of the genocide committed by the Serb army against ethnic Bosnians. An irony. Why a group of people who once felt the pain of oppression then have the heart to oppress other groups of people is probably a human mystery that will never be answered until the end of time. From a filmic point of view, the two films are presented with different story approaches. IfQuo Vadis, Aida? Preferring to put forward the nuances and dark atmosphere of the tragic event, Antonijević seems to want to put forward a more brutal and bloody approach through various scenes with shades of violence in Dara of Jasenovac’s storyline .
The presence of violent scenes is not something that is really new in the line of films that raise historical records about the existence of the holocaust. However, Antonijević’s execution of these scenes is more often felt as an exploitation of the horror element of the Holocaust story than as a crucial part of the narrative about the loss of humanity due to its delivery which often appears to dominate rather than the development of the story of the characters in the camps. the concentration. This is especially felt in the first half of the film’s story where Dara of JasenovacI feel I still haven’t found a storytelling footing or storytelling point of view from a character that feels really strong. Finally, when the plot of the story oscillates from one character to another, this film chooses to put forward a series of scenes of violence and suffering that the residents of the Jasenovac concentration camp have to go through.
Dara of Jasenovac only started to find a more convincing storytelling direction when the character of Dara Ilic was given a wider story and character development in the second half of the story. The interaction formed by the character with other characters around him is able to produce a humanistic impression that is quite touching – while still presenting the color of tension and fear of being at the location of the center of the horror – as well as the much-needed deepening of the background of the historical event. itself. Unfortunately, with a story duration that reaches 130 minutes, the storyline of Dara of Jasenovacnot much to get a wider excavation, both in terms of characters and the ongoing conflict. The side plot about the efforts of his father’s character, Mile Ilic ( Zlatan Vidović ), to catch up and reunite with his family members is also not fully developed. Dara of Jasenovac’s presentation then ended with a half-baked impression and missed many opportunities to tell a stronger story.
Apart from the story management that has not been maximized, Dara of Jasenovaccultivated with a fairly convincing production quality. From the production design, to the cinematography, to the make-up and hair, all eyes will be able to bring every eye to witness the dark times of the atrocities in the Jasenovac concentration camp. Antonijević also gets the best quality performance from the line-up of his film acting department, especially from ekić who plays the central character in the story of this film. The characterization given to the figure of Dara Ilic often appears not too smooth or deep. Even so, ekić’s performance is always able to make the audience feel every layer of emotion that the character is trying to express. An appearance that can lift even the weakest moments in Dara of Jasenovac’s storytelling .