Through the graves the wind is blowing

As filmmaker Travis Wilkerson admits himself in the voice over, to tackle the fall of Jugoslavia in a film - especially by someone from a completely different social context - is an impossible task indeed. Therefore, what Through the graves the wind is blowing does, is a narrative construct that wraps itself around the subject and at the same time becomes an extraordinarily free and bleakly humorous piece of experimental cinema, not without a political subtext.

The film presents itself, at first, as a semi-reportage of Wilkerson himself, who interviews Ivan Peric, a detective determined (or, not so much) to solve a series of cases of murders of tourists in the picturesque city of Split, on the croatian coast. These openly fictional sequences, increasingly grotesque, are a comedic contrapunct that introduce the element of mystery and investigation to the film. By placing the main character, for each interview, in a specific location, Wilkerson enables a natural digression that moves further in the study of space, and allows a further detachment from the spatial circumstances to the socio-political ones. The anecdotes of the "murders" soon make way to other anecdotes, initially justified implicitly by a will of explaining the context of the city of Split - overcrowded with misbehaving tourists that are perceived negatively by croatians, in detective Peric's narrative. 

It is this anecdotal approach, which soon overtakes the detective-mystery fiction, that allows Wilkerson to at least attempt to present fragments of the history of Croatia: in a mixture of black and white moving images, still pictures, abstract animations and some archivial footage, single historical events, distinct characters, specific forms of graffiti and symbols become pieces of a puzzle that Wilkerson puts together in his film, without daring to assemble it alltogether.

Through the Graves the Wind is blowing is certainly not a film that attempts to tell, in a comprehensive or absolutist approach, the complex history of Croatia, of the conflicts between communists and the ustaĊĦa, or the rise of extreme right-wing sentiments in the croatian society following the independence from Jugoslavia, but it is nonetheless a film that approaches this large set of topics, consciously aware of the impossibility to provide a definitive answer or judgement that goes further than a general political alignment.  

This is the greatest strength of Through the Graves the Wind is Blowing: it is a film that is perfectly framed within its limits and within the limits of cinematic medium, without falling in the mistake of having the pretense of absolute truth or moral superiority, and that in the process, manages to still transmit its message: in the end, without wanting to be a film about the fall of jugoslavia, its incomplete fragmentavity makes it perhaps one of the most sincere cinematic visions of the post-jugoslavian balcanic society as perceived by an external eye.


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