THE HIGHLIGHTS OF ZAGREB from 1934 is Miletić’s most widely known film from the pre-war period, and according to many, it is also his best film of that era.
The ironic report about Zagreb as a metropolis highlights the most pressing municipal problems of that time, which bear a striking resemblance to the present-day problems. For example, Zagreb does not have a metro even today, although our well known (recently closed) public toilet on Jelačić square might easily confuse a foreigner in that regard. Even in today’s Zagreb the streets are being dug up for the hundredth time, because the last time it was done they forgot to put in some line or duct. The air in Zagreb is probably among the worst polluted in Europe, because it is cheaper to poison ourselves, than it is to install air filters or build taller chimneys, or move the industrial polluters out of the city. „White Zagreb“ is as dirty as it ever was – trash bins can generally be found only at tram stops, and so on… Everything that is seen as a problem, Miletić turns into an advantage through caricature: large factory chimney stacks suck in smoke instead of releasing it; the movements of municipal construction workers are greatly sped up, accompanied by a comment about their industriousness…
In this classic film Miletić masterfully plays with accelerated and slow motion, which he uses to develop humorous, fantastic and original ideas.
This 5-minute film, which was awarded the 1st prize at the Pan-Slavic Film Competition in Zagreb, was originally filmed on 16 mm and 9,5 mm film stock. When turning over his film collection to the Croatian Cinematheque, Oktavijan Miletić only provided the 9,5 mm copy, which was then transferred onto 35 mm stock through a „blow up“ process.
A new sound version of the film was made on 35 mm film stock, produced by Pan film. The sound version was screened in cinemas domestically (Croatia kino), while the original version on 9,5 mm stock was shown in Vienna and Berlin.
In one of his interviews Miletić said about the film:
„The title itself is very revealing. Many wanted Zagreb to be a metropolis, while in fact it was quite provincial. I made a little fun of that contrast. The film took 3-4 days of shooting and a couple of days of editing to make. Pan film really liked it, and I re-made it for them later on 35 mm stock. I have to say the result wasn’t very good; the original version was better. It is difficult to set everything up exactly as it was the first time, because the second time around one doesn’t have the same ardor“.
Translation: SRĐAN RANDIĆ