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Lila and Sreten marry and begin to live together with children from his and her first marriage. Lila has two daughters and Sreten three sons. But things don't go as planned, but at one ... See full summary »
Vojislav 'Voja' Brajovic,
Vukasin returns home from the studies in France to tell his father Achim and brother Djordje that he plans to marry the daughter of his father's political opponent and enemy. Achim ... See full summary »
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Milan 'Lane' Gutovic,
When was the last time you saw a film or TV series set in Sarajevo
I love to find film and TV shows with a difference, whether it be a subject or location, and with The Scent of Rain in the Balkans, I was attracted by the Sarajevo setting. The story, which begins in 1914, was from a best selling novel about a close knit family of Sephardic Jews living in Sarajevo, still speaking the Ladino language used by the ancestors who were expelled from Spain after the reconquest. It is their belief that their culture had survived for the last 400 years by rigid adherence to traditions and customs, e.g. they do not marry outside their Sephardic community. The children marry in order of birth and usually to a suitable spouse hand picked by their families. One of the more interesting episodes is the seven-day mourning ritual practiced after the death of their mother.
The Salom family is comfortable middle class, not too well off, as their father is never very successful, but not living in poverty; therefore, all the daughters must work. The mother's aim is to find suitable husbands from within their small and limited Jewish community and for the girls to have children who would continue their traditions. Instead the girls meet and fall in love with men outside their culture, sometimes the right ones, and sometimes not. Two of the men are real cads. Falling for or marrying Christians causes family rifts and ostracism as neither side will accept the other. The only one to marry in accordance with her parents' wishes suffers an unhappy marriage losing her husband to an inherited illness.
The main focus is on the youngest daughter, Riki, who becomes a successful ballerina and magnet for wealthy important men. The casting of Alessandra Bisic in the role is what cost my rating two points. In 1914 Riki was a child and a young girl should have been cast in the role. While Ms. Bisic was excellent in the later chapters covering 1930-1945, she was far too old to play a child and her acting, which resembled an acting class version of "imagine that you are 12-years old", was excruciating to watch. Ms. Bisic is a ballerina, but not of the Balanchine emaciated ballerina model - more buxom and rather tall, which takes a bit of adjustment for those more accustomed to wispy waifs. Yugoslav companies must feed their dancers well. Watching her dancing in the scenes where she was playing a child was like watching a baby elephant in a tutu, which was not helped by her being in a small room instead of a stage, and I could not believe that she was actually going to be discovered and become a ballerina, rather I was expecting her to be ridiculed and sadly diappointed.
The action begins in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and ends in 1945 with the defeat of Germany. The girls fall in and out of love and forsake their family traditions one by one, and suffer hardship and persecution from the German occupation of the Balkans. It is a slow moving series, and definitely a womens' weepie, but watchable with a box of chocolates and a hanky. Most enjoyable is the image Bosnian life between the wars, and the glimpses of old Sarajevo, Dubrovinik, Split, Belgrade, and Zagreb most of which will have changed beyond recognition.
The only other problem, which cost another point, was the theme music 'Adio Querida' which has stuck in my brain as an earworm and will probably stay there until the next one comes along.
If you enjoyed Like Water For Chocolate, this should be your cup of tea.
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