Carlston za Ognjenku (Tears for Sale) (2008)
Director: Uros Stojanovic.
Starring: Katarina Radivojevic (Mala Boginja), Sonja Kolacaric (Ognjenka), Stefan Kapicic (Arsa 'Kralj, carlstona'), Nenad Jezdic (Dragoljub 'Covek od celika'), Olivera Katarina (Velika Boginja), Nada Sargin (Mlada), Jovana Stipic (Ratija), Danica Maksimovic (Zagorka), Radmila Tomovic (Zamna), Danijela Vranjes (Nada), Elizabeta Djorevska (Mara 'Pijandura' ), Zlatija Ocokoljic (Gradska udovica), Ana Bretsnajder (Cukunbaba), Ana Maljevic (Vojnikusa ), Marija Dakic (Seoska udovica).
after WWI 2/3 of Serbian men were killed; two sisters plan to bring back some men for the women
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film. Curse words in the text.
"During the First World War, Serbia lost two thirds of its male population. The women were left to start a new life as best they could. This is their story."
Two sisters, blonde Ognjenka and brunette Boginja, had a carefree upbringing in Serbia before WWI. Boginja is going to bathe in the local pond. Her sister tells her the pond is cursed, but Boginja is not afraid because she does not believe in curses. Ognjenka believes that it is bad luck to bathe in a pond full of their great-grandma's tears. They say the great-grandmother made the pond with her tears after her husband died in war. It is said that when a boy reaches the height of his rifle, he's ready to fight at the front and Serbia has had no shortage of wars. Great-grandmother became a wailer for pay and would wail at funerals. This skill was past down to Boginja and Ognjenka.
Hard times fell on the wailers as more and more men were killed in battle. That meant that the wailers had fewer clients and it was hard to make a living. By 1918 there were only two male villagers left in the village where Ognjenka and Boginja live. Their names are Ozren and Jordan. Ozren dies when he gets drunk out at the graveyard and a huge gravestone falls on him. (There are some versions of the story that his wife killed him by pushing the gravestone down upon him.) Corporal Jordan, thinking that he can't single-handedly defend all the village women from harm, plants mines in the vineyard. He didn't record where the devices were buried and one day he stepped on one of his mines and was blown sky high.
After the death of the last man, except for Grandfather Bisa, someone still had to go into the vineyard because it was the only source of income for the village. They drew twigs and the one with the shortest twig had to go into the minefield. Few if any made it out of the vineyard alive.
Boginja finishes her bath and gets out of the pond (brief nudity). She passes by the pretty Nada who tells the sisters that she needs a wailer. Who's the client? Nada says: "Me." . The price of basic wailing is 30 dinars. If hair pulling and face scratching is to be added on, the total cost is 45 dinars. In the graveyard the sisters wail for the living Nada. Nada says that Ognjenka is not shedding any tears. She wants tears. So her sister helps her shed tears by giving her a piece of lemon to squeeze into her eyes. Boginja also tells her to think of sad thoughts.
Ognjenka has to think of something sad. She remembers back to a wedding she attended. During the wedding the troops pass by the ceremony. Some soldiers grab the groom and take him with them.
The thoughts of the sad wedding don't work on Ognjenka so her sister slaps her in the face. Still no tears. So Boginja tells her the sad story of Ognjenka's life for she has never been kissed. She will die a lonely death with no children or grandchildren. This starts to make Ognjenka cry. Nada stops them and says that's good, but she wants them to drop the part about her, Nada, having been unkissed because she has kissed a man. Boginja asks Nada what was it like? Nada goes to kiss her, but Boginja pulls her head away. Nada calls her a coward, so Ognjenka does kiss her. And now the sisters want to know who she kissed? Grandfather Bisa. The sisters make a spitting sound with their lips indicating they are repulsed by the idea. Nada says it's better than dying a spinster. The sisters think of Grandfather Bisa for a moment.
In the tavern the singer Ratija sings only sad songs. She says that's all she knows. In fact, hardly anyone knows a cheerful song. Nada and the sisters come into the tavern. Nada wants a drink, but it has to be a drink of spider brandy. All the women start chanting: "Give us spider brandy!" The bartender, the sister's mother, has the drink under lock and key. She opens the locked safe and they all see a real spider suspended in the spider brandy. The women start knocking back the brandy very quickly. And now the mirror behind the bar gets hundreds of cracks in it. The women imagine that their dead men return from the grave and come into the tavern through the mirror. Of course, the men look terrible because they are dead. Ognjenka cries that magic isn't even any good. Life sucks, basically.
Boginja sees a man that looks alive. She goes over to him and pushes Ratija away. The two women start fighting. Ognjenka gets drunk and passes out, but not before she catches a glimpse of a man.
Nada goes into the vineyard. She tells the women to make sure grandfather Bisa cures the girls of their virginity. It doesn't take long before she is blown to pieces. There are many women in grandfather's house. They are preparing a bath for him. Ognjenka gets pushed onto the bed with grandfather. As the women talk about what Ognjenka and Boginja need to do, grandfather sits up and puts his arms around Ognjenka. The blonde woman lets out a blood-curdling scream. Grandfather falls backwards back onto the bed. He is dead.
Now the sisters are tied up with a rope wrapped around a post and them. Zamna the village witch accuses the two women of being witches and she puts a curse upon them. A number of women have pistols and rifles pointed at the sisters. Boginja thinks and thinks and then tells the ladies not to burn them at the stake because they can get them men, real men. The women agree that if the sisters are not back in three days, their grandmother will rot in a place worse than hell. The witch of the village calls forth the spirits of the sister's grandmother in the form of a multitude of bats.
The sisters find a very pot-bellied man along the mountain road working with an axe. Ognjenka distracts him, while Boginja prepares to knock him out using a long tree branch. Just as Boginja is about to strike, the women of the village rise up with weapons pointed at the sisters. They say they know the women are here to steal their last man. Ognjenka gets scared and drops the axe on the man's foot and he cries out in pain. The village women now fire their weapons at the fleeing women.
The sisters now have to travel farther to find a man. Boginja jumps on a soldier but the soldier fights back. In the struggle the uniform cap comes off revealing that this soldier is a woman. Boginja is mad and wants to know why she is walking around pretending to be a man? The woman answers back: "We won't let the few men we have left get slaughtered!"
The sisters return to their journey. They come to a market place filled with stalls and shopping women, but no men. Then all of a sudden what looks like part of a traveling circus comes to the market place. A man is going to be shot out of a huge cannon. The sisters immediately run to see the man. The man shouts out that his name is Dragoljub Aleksic, but they call him the Man of Steel. Just then he sees the blonde Ognjenka and stops talking. Ognjenka hears the man ask the women: "Want to fly in the Man of Steel's arms?" It only costs 11 dinar. The women go crazy and rush over to the mouth of the cannon screaming like girls at a Beatles concert.. Another man plays the Charleston dance song to the women over a loud speaker and says that although he doesn't have the biceps of the Man of Steel, he offers a divine dance with him doing the Charleston. Now all the women, except for Ognjenka, rush over to the Charleston man. The blonde gets knocked over by all the women rushing away.
Boginja reaches the platform first. Below her all the women are doing the Charleston. Meanwhile, Ognjenka straddles the cannon and works her way up to the Man of Steel. She gets in with the man and wham they go flying up into the sky. The guy says it looks like they will miss the safety net. They do, but they land in the river, so they survive. Meanwhile, the Charleston Man is backing up a fort's stairway as all the women try to get at him. Suddenly, women from the top of the fort descend the fort's stairway down to the fellow. Charleston Man disappears in a sea of women.
Man of Steel can't swim and Ognjenka has to save his life. On safe ground now the Man of Steel asks her to be his assistant because he needs a brave young lady to travel the country with him. Meanwhile, Charleston manages to get up. He spritzes an eye-stinging liquid into the air to force the women back. He then says he will throw his lapel rose into the air and the first one who brings it back to him will be the Queen of the Charleston. The rose goes over the fort wall and falls in the river. The women run down to the river with Boginja out front. They have to jump over the Steel and Ognjenka to get to the rose. They then jump into the river.
Now Charleston drives the cannon truck closer to where Steel is, so he can jump into the truck. He stops the truck and Steel and Ognjenka hop aboard. The truck starts to leave, but Boginja latches onto the door and just keeps shouting that she won. She got the rose. Ognjenka says this is her sister. The closest competitor shouts that the girl doesn't have the flower, but Boginja pulls the rose out of her mouth and shows it to Charleston. And away goes the truck with the women still chasing it.
The sisters found two men, but they only promised one man to the village women. So now which of the men should be turned over to all those wild women? Steel stops the truck so Boginja can change into dry clothes. Neither of the sisters want to give up their man. The girls now put on very feminine clothes and the guys are wowed at the sight. They think these are different women, so they intend to abandon the old pair and take on this new pair.
Boginja tells Charleston that she wants to be taken to Belgrade. Charleston starts fondling Boginja's left breast through her clothes. She tells him that they will get rid of the other pair and not go back to the village. Ognjenka tells Steel that they should ditch the other couple and not go back to the village.
Steel starts driving the truck, but soon the bats (the spirits of the women's grandmother) fly all around the truck and even go into the front seats area with the human passengers. The driver can't keep going straight with all these bats flying around him. They are about to run into funeral procession on the road. By the time Steel sees them and jams on his breaks, all the walkers jump out of the way except one who the truck knocks down. The truck stops with the downed person underneath the truck. Now the bats go into the front seat of the hearse and harass the hearse driver.
Boginja grabs Charleston and runs over to the hearse where she opens the door and throws the woman driver out. Then the couple get into the hearse and Boginja drives away with the coffin in the back. Steel and Ognjenka also drive off going a different way. (But they both will wind up in Belgrade.) Boginja hits a big bump and the coffin falls out the hearse onto the dirt road. While the hearse continues forward, Boginja and Charleston kiss. Then they have sex in the back of the hearse while the hearse rolls on and on. (some nudity)
As the third day ends, the spirits come for the two sisters. Ognjenka tries not to think about the spirits, but she can't help but think of them.
Back at the village the women are drawing straws. All of a sudden the cannon truck arrives in the village. When the women see Steel they all have to touch him. Ognjenka doesn't like this.
The women now make Ognjenka walk the vineyard. Steel has rigged up a system of cables. He sits upside down on a bicycle suspended on the cables. The bike rider provides the power that makes the cycle move along the cables. A prostrate Ognjenka is just below Steel's head. She is completely off the ground and picks off grape clusters from the vines as they go. That night the women start stomping the grapes in a huge container. They throw Steel into the vat and the women fuss over him as they go round in a circle.
Ognjenka is in the pond while the witch summons the bats back into the skull of a cow. The witch exclaims that now grandmother's soul can live in peace forever. Ognjenka says to herself that she has saved everybody, except herself. She is just another spinster. All of a sudden, Boginja comes driving up in the hearse. She says she is going to get Ognjenka's boyfriend back from the village women. Charleston is in the back of the hearse sleeping.
The mute woman of the village approaches Steel. It looks like she wants a kiss. The sisters arrive. They tell the women that Ognjenka loves Steel and that they are taking him to Belgrade. Woman after woman says that they love Steel too. Steel likes being the center of attention of so many women and he wants to settle down here. But Ognjenka tells him that if they don't go now, the women will steal Steel from her. Steel says he's the Man of Steel and no one can steal him away without his consent. Ognjenka tells him she loves him and they kiss. The women look awe-struck. The mute woman now actually says: "Kiss me, too." She asks for just one kiss because nobody has kissed her before. The mute moves in on Steel and kisses him on the lips. He doesn't really kiss back, but the young woman is oh, so happy.
Now Charleston comes into the tavern. The women are thrilled to see another man. Boginja tries to tell the women they are hallucinating from too much spider brandy. Charleston jumps on a table and brings Boginja up with him. They dance together. Ratija gets up and sneaks into Charleston's arms. As he dips her, she kisses him. Now the two ladies square off. They break the glasses on the table and now they step on the glass shards as they go round each other. The two women try to out stamp each other stomping on the shards to show dominance. Steel doesn't like what's happening and he lifts up one side of the table throwing the three people on the table onto two other people and all five land in a bunch on the floor.
Steel says that Charleston is just a bum, a piano tuner. The women don't understand either of the two words. Charleston fires back saying that Steel is just the shit on his shoes. The women, however, don't care about any of this. They say they can prove their worth when they are in bed with the women. Steel asks Ognjenka to get him a bed, so Ognjenka breaks a beer mug over his head. And now Charleston asks for a big bed. Boginja just glares at him with hatred in her eyes.
Now the women grab the two drunken men and carry them to where some beds are. Ognjenka says these women are not going to steal her man from her. She pushes past all the women and goes into the room where Charleston is laying in bed. She wants to have sex with Charleston and tells him to give her the works. The witch and the bartender try to decide between them who will go first with Steel. Steel tells them: "Come on!" while Ognjenka tells Charleston the same: "Come on!" Charleston tells the blonde to just go home. Now a naked Retija jumps into bed with Charleston. He seems more interested in her than Ognjenka.
Out in the graveyard, Boginja pulls the glass shards out of her feet. Charleston doesn't have sex with Retija either and he covers up her nudity with the bed sheet. The two sisters meet out in the graveyard. Boginja tells Ognjenka that she doesn't want to hear anything about her sexcapades. The once mute woman tells Steel to go to Ognjenka. She is for Steel, and Steel is for her. Now hurry.
The two sisters get in the hearse. Charleston walks out of the room and down the stairs past all the women still waiting for him. The women follow him. He can't get rid of them, so he decides to make a run for it. The women chase after him. Steel runs out in front of the hearse and Boginja doesn't stop. the car hits him but he is able to get onto the hood of the hearse and shout to his girl that he is a pig. Ognjenka only says: "You are." She just keeps driving and Steel falls off and hits the ground hard.
Charleston starts running toward the vineyard and gets a little way into it before the women's yelling gets him to stop. Now he asks how is he going to get out of this mess? Boginja, however, does stop for her guy. She and her sister see him standing still in the vineyard with the women watching him. Boginja tells her sister to go on to Belgrade alone for she has unfinished business here. She now goes over to Charleston saying that in this dance the woman leads. They kiss each other passionately. The women all stare at the two kissing. They keep it up and it's emotionally like mines exploding everywhere (which does happen in their imaginations). One or the other of the pair steps on a mine and they are blown sky high.
Ognjenka drives to Belgrade and along the way thinks about the curse she told her sister concerning the pond. And now her sister is dead.
Steel goes to the roof top of the huge new skyscraper building in Belgrade known as the Palace of Albania. He is going to make a jump off the building into a net (or is it without a net?). On the ground looking up along with many other spectators, Ognjenka watches the building. Ognjenka goes up onto the roof of the building. She stands there while everyone else is dancing and having a good time.
Steel says: "Ognjenka had already seen the Palace of Albania in her dreams. Now she had to rid her dreams and memory of all trace of Dragoljub Aleksic. They say that up there you forget everything: wars, the fake tears of the wailers, and the real tears shed for loves lost. There, above the clouds, the dance never ends. A dance of love, oblivion, a dance for a new age. These tears are not for sale anymore."
It's astounding to me that Serbia losts everty two out of three men in World War I. But there is not much history here, even though it is an entertaining movie. The film is a black comedy with fantasy elements in it. The film is funny and sexy. Katarina Radivojevic (as Boginja), Sonja Kolacaric (as Ognjenka) and Jovana Stipic (as Ratija) are all attractive women and so are some of the other actresses. In many ways it's a sad film, but one has to remember that it is a black comedy.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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