Scriptwriters: Bora Ćosić, Živojin Pavlović
Director: Živojin Pavlović
Cast: Velimir Živojinović, Snežana Lukić, Milivoje Tomić, Dušan Janićijević, Pavle Vuisić, Bekim Fehmiu, Maks Furijan, Petar Lupa, Dušan Tadić, Milan Lugomirski, Vojkan Pavlović
By the beginning of the filming of "The Enemy" Živojin Pavlović had taken part only in two film anthologies. However, the second of them, “The City” (1963), a film that heralds the Yugoslav Black Wave, was awarded a special state “honor”, becoming the only film of the early 1960s banned from the screen due to a court (rather than a producer's) decision. At the time, in 1963, young directors, inspired by the examples of French, Polish, Czechoslovak cinemas, “discovered” their cities through the camera lens as if they had seen them for the first time, “taking out” of the zone of blindness and silence the gloomy aesthetics of the Belgrade suburbs, the alienated life of city dwellers, an anxious slush of feelings and the absurdity of social relationships.
It is worth noting that the stylish name Black Film, which has become attached to the Yugoslav films of that period, was invented only by the end of the decade and not by the directors themselves; it was first used in an official critical article. "A Black Wave in Our Cinema" - this was how the journalist Vladimir Jovičić titled his article in “Borba”, the newspaper of the Communist Party, in 1969. This article, reflecting the reaction of the Yugoslav authorities to the social unrest of 1968, became a signal for a political attack on Živojin Pavlović, Želimir Žilnik, Dušan Makavejev, and Aleksandar Petrović. As Makaveev later explained, the idea of creating a "black film" was played out as a measure of a kind of social exorcism, an invention of careerists with a "wild, politico-pornographic" imagination, an attempt to expel all the social darkness on the state balance sheet into undesirable films.
But at the time Pavlović was primarily concerned with the possibility of bringing his own cinema out of the shadows. After the ban of "The City", temporarily deprived of the opportunity to make his next Serbian project "The Return", he received an offer from the Slovenian studio Viba Film. Taking as his co-author the writer Bora Ćosić, the director adapted Dostoevsky's story "The Double" for the screen, easily discovering in the wounded poor people of Russian literature, in their unhealthy social isolation and feverish Petersburg hallucinations, an almost perfect match with contemporary Yugoslavia. However, it was not without amendments: for example, the crazed titular adviser Golyadkin, in the version of Pavlović and Ćosić, is transformed into a strong-willed typographer with the expressive heroic face of Velimir Živojinović, the “main partisan of Yugoslavia”. Živojinović, by the way, is one of the most sought-after actors in the history of Balkan cinema, who, after appearing in a number of notable war films, in particular, in the cult film "Walter Defends Sarajevo" (1972), acquired a strong reputation as an "actor-statesman".
But in "The Enemy" his character, Slobodan Antić, is not so loved by those around him. Colleagues from the print shop, with a shadow of contempt, call him the last idealist; his bosses are dissatisfied with his activist fervor; his girlfriend escapes from their dates. A war veteran, somewhat rough in his thirst for justice and awkward in communication - today it is not so difficult to find in him “the double” of another outcast, Travis Bickle, Scorsese’s taxi driver, examining his reflection in the mirror. In accordance with the plot of Dostoevsky, our hero will soon also be pursued by a doppelganger, an evil copy who once attached itself to him on a night street in order to borrow his whole life step by step.
In one of the film’s episodes, the real Slobodan goes to the cinema to watch the early silent horror film “The Student of Prague”. This is the first screen adaptation of a story about a double in the history of cinema, which unequivocally hints to the viewer and to the character himself what, with fatalistic inevitability, this story will end with: shoot at the enemy, you will hit yourself.
Long panoramic shots and camera movements that anticipate the movement of people in the shot, the use of deep focus and layering of the narrative into several levels - these artistic techniques of Pavlović first crystallize in “The Enemy”. They set the aesthetic contours of the cinema project of the director who is always in search of an irrational effect, which, in fact, the entire "black wave" has become for the history of Yugoslav cinema, that is, the breakdown of the audience’s perception: everything that seemed familiar and understandable is now foreign and hostile.