Happiness, good night

72 Days (Sedamdeset i dva dana), dir. Danilo Šerbedžija, comp. Miroslav Tadić

  • 72 Days, dir. Danilo Šerbedžija
    As the most Croatian films do, 72 Days directed by Danilo Šerbedžija doesn’t use music very often. This is the first impression of film score which was written by famous guitar player Miroslav Tadić. Tadić is known for his collaboration with famous musicians of different musical styles – from Placido Domingo, through Jack Bruce from the Cream and Portuguese jazz singer Maria João to leader of the macedonian band Leb i sol Vlatko Stefanovski (this collaboration made Tadić famous) and actor Rade Šerbedžija (with whom he made an album I Have a Song for You / Imam pjesmu za tebe and with whom he played at the concert of the same name in the in Zagreb). It seems that the couple inspired director (Rade Šerbedžija’s son) to invite Tadić to compose the music for his film (here is important to note that Danilo Šerbedžija is rock musician himself).

    In spite the first sentence, which was concluded after I saw first fifteen minutes of the film, all other data presented here talks in favor of importance of the music. Indeed, film inscribes Danilo’s love for music and his playing in different rock bands. This is recognized through the main character, Branko, who also plays in lousy heavy-rock band. The music makes him capable to show his (mostly negative) emotions: it seems that he is eternally angry on his uncle Mane, who is pater familias in the family and everybody have to do what he says. Branko is also full of fear, because he owes the money to mafia. And also, he is angry on himself, because he is incapable to take his girlfriend from this dreadful place in Lika (the place where he was born) were he is trying to hide from the mobsters.
    72 Days, dir. Danilo Šerbedžija
    All this is good reason for usage of diegetic songs as the commentaries of the situations. It is totally clear why Branko sings (or, almost shouts, completely drunk) to stuffed bear in the bar a song Happiness, good night /Srećo, laku noć/ (because he just met the members of the mafia), or why you hear garage-band playing Unbeliever (Nevjerniče, nevjerni) when three characters – Mane, Joja and Branko – start talking about kidnapping the old lady (the performance of the band is so loud, that Joja decides to stop them by turning their electricity off).

    On the other hand, there is also nondiegetic music which was composed and played by Miroslav Tadić, respectful guitar player and professor at Californian Institute of Arts in Los Angeles. Nondiegetic music is far more subtle than diegetic is. This background music also partly functions as commentary, especially the nondiegetic songs as Across Kapela (Preko Kapele) which in the film’s prologue shows opposition between lyricism of music and roughness of the most film characters; or Oh, Lika is there anybody who loves you? (Ajoj Liko, voli li te Liko?) which shows the way of life in Lika which doesn’t suite young Branko and his girlfriend. Nondiegetic songs are multifunctional: on one hand they establish the place of the story, while at the other, with their own lyrical and gentle sound – they establish firm counterpart to the events and to diegetic music played by Barnko’s garage rock-band. In Mr. Tadić’s interpretation, this is other side of Lika’s face: roughness of the people comes from the brutality of the life conditions, but this is reality and every-day life for all inhabitants (except for Branko and his girlfriend who came from Zagreb), and they accept it without questioning.
    72 Days, dir. Danilo Šerbedžija
    This is why my first impression was that there isn’t much nondiegetic music in the film. Indeed, nondiegetic music mostly functions as the tying bond between scenes, but its sounding discovers real feelings, especially Branko’s (and his incapability to oppose his uncle, as his way to show how much he hates what he has to do by his uncle’s order: to keep grandma’s hygiene). But, by film’s development, although it is almost always used at the scene’s borders, it becomes clear why Miroslav Tadić’s music is subtly functional. Except as the guide for characters’ emotions, the composer uses it also as the leitmotivic marking for some characters (like for the members of the mafia) and, by doing that, he plays a game with some theme’s diegesis (theme Across Kapela is in one scene played by Branko and his band, while its instrumental intermezzo becomes nondiegetic part of the next scene where Mane is preparing shovel to kill mafia people).

    Indeed, it is impossible to say that 72 Days is full of background music. But its usage is multilayered and thoughtful, musically and dramaturgically developed and, in one word, really profound.  Its guitar-mono-color-ness is realistic photograph of Lika and Mane’s way of thinking. And this picture, in fact, doesn’t change even at the very end of the film which brings positive turn for positive characters (what is rare in Croatian movie) showing them in happy and warm family surroundings of Lika’s – greyness.

    © Irena Paulus, FILMOVI.hr, 31 October 2010