Interview in French magazine Les inrockuptibles #201, may 2004

  • Les inrocks : Life is a miracle is a story of mighty lovers. Can we consider Luka and Sabaha as Romeo and Juliet of the modern times ?
    • Emir Kusturica : In a way, yes. Peter Handke told me after he saw Underground that, according to him, I had tried to do the impossible : gather together the Marx Brothers and Shakespeare. He found Life is a miracle even more Shakespearian. Luka faces several Shakespearian dilemmas. He has with him an hostage, Sabaha, with whom he falls in love, when he would have never thought, even in dreams, to confine someone illegally. Nevertheless, she becomes his hostage. The dilemma arrives when he must exchange her against his son. What can he do ? He's in love of her, but he also loves his son. What happened during the war is, in my opinion, completely Shakespearian ; I tried to depict it under a personal angle, adding some ironic aspects of life.
  • So, the Balkans are a stage, and the men and women are its actors ?
    • EK : Absolutely. Put a Shakespearian drama into the Balkanic context, it's not like putting it into a Danish or an English context. It brings a pagan note. In the first versions of the script, for example, Jadranka wasn't opera singer, but I brought some modifications to create these bizarre situations where people have the occasion to lose their mind and to swap into a different universe. And by the way, historically, it's the truth. Balkans have always had very talented people taken individually, but who stop being it when they start to get into the society.
  • Can you identify yourself to Luka ?
    • EK : A lot. What I like with him, it's that he doesn't get fully into love. He's a little bit old fashioned. He restrains himself to avoid being to close to this woman because he wants his son back. It's a complete man ; I'm like this myself. When I see him getting closer to Sabaha step by step, I can imagine perfectly being at his place. I would have done the same.
  • Luka refuses to believe in the imminence of the war
    • EK : That's what happened to me. War burst when I was in Paris. The first forty days, I couldn't believe… Maybe my brain was running slow, like the old cameras : when you move, the image puts some time to disappear. I couldn't believe it was the war. All a Yugoslav generation simply didn't have conscious that incredible thing was falling on their head. Luka is very much like them.
  • Would you say it's an optimistic film ?
    • EK : I would say it's a sadly optimistic film because Luka opens to the perspective of love. Today, all the rest vanishes. Not being too pessimistic, we have to remain realistic toward what we see. The last century was marked by conflicts ; however, I feel there was more hope than now. It's like if death had become an ordinary and common phenomenon. In our world without utopia, we have to build our own utopia, because each spirit saved, each soul saved, brings us something.
  • Did you want to demonstrate something on war ?
    • EK : Yes, but I did it starting from the antithesis. I tried to get away at most from the idea that we have to point which nation is right, which nation is wrong, the aggressor and the attacked. It's stupid, because it doesn't solve the problem, it freezes it. And when the time has come, everybody returns to what he was before the problems was frozen. This story occurs during the war and, in my opinion, it's all that gives its ideological dimension, because this war was really dirty. Nothing to see with what you saw on television, with its superficial and manipulating treatment. I tried to get deeper into the human reactions.

Translation Matthieu Dhennin

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