Circles – Srdan Golubovic – 2013

Krugovi CoverOriginal title: Krugovi
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Year: 2013
Director: Srdan Golubovic
Duration: 112 min.
Genres: Drama, War


Circles opens with a scene from the past. During the war in Yugoslavia an incident takes place. The owner of a small street boutique, who is a Muslim, is almost beaten to death by a group of soldiers lead by a man named Tudor. The stand owner is all out of cigarettes of the brand they like, which for the soldiers is a good enough reason to smash his stand and almost kill him. Another soldier, Marko, intervenes, and the flashback ends with him asking the soldiers to please leave the man on the ground alone. We are left to guess as to what happened afterwards, but I think deep down we all have a pretty good idea.

Nada and Marko

Twelve years later, we see some of the same people again. Each of them are at an important point in their lives. We see Marko’s girlfriend Nada with her son of about eight years old. She is in Germany, trying to get away from the boy’s father who is trying to take him away. She meets with a man, Haris, who seems willing to do anything to help her.

Back home, Marko’s father Ranko is rebuilding a church that was moved during the war to make room for a power plant. He is rebuilding it using the same stones and putting it back together exactly the way it was. He is helped by a younger man, who one day brings his friend Bogdan to help. Bogdan is the son of one of the men who was there that day twelve years ago.

Finally there is Nebojsa. He is Marko’s doctor friend and was with him that day. He stood by and did nothing, while Marko walked up to the soldiers. Nebojsa is faced with a difficult decision when Todor is brought in for surgery. One that only he can perform, but does he want to?

Circles is a pretty obvious name for this film. As said in the film, when something happens it is like a stone falling in water. At the center something happens, but the after effects are seen as the ripples (called circles here) flowing out in every direction. But this time, there don’t appear to be any circles. Was what happened all for nothing? Was it completely meaningless? Up until now it seems like it was, but each character is given a chance to create one of these circles. Can they forgive, do the right thing, redeem themselves and show compassion after such a terrible deed?

Bogdan at the church site

Not just a moving story

The story is actually based on a real event. Or rather the flashback was, the rest of the film is entirely fictional. Marko was not his real name though, but he died trying to save an innocent Muslim from being beaten to death by soldiers of another ethnicity. In reality that was it, the four soldiers who killed Marko were given light sentences, but the story went on to inspire many.

Ranko at the church site

As for other aspects of the film, its camera work, music, colours, lighting etc. there are a lot of interesting things happening. There is hardly any music, but when it plays, I found it was deeply moving. I especially liked the filming of the church being rebuilt. Mostly because of the views of the landscape. Overall I felt the colours were very bland, which suits the film quite well. The acting is also very solid. Things never feel over the top or cliche, but it all does feel real and sincere.

I personally don’t know much about the Yugoslavian war in the early 90’s, but it doesn’t stop the film from being very intense. You are never given a lot of information as to what is going on. You must fill in some of the blanks, but doing so wasn’t too difficult. The film ends with another flashback. Full circle, so to speak.

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