Life is a miracle


Director Emir Kusturica
Original title Život Je Čudo
Working title Gladno Srce, Hungry Heart, Love Story, When life was a miracle
Release 14 mai 2004 (France)
Original language Serbian
Length 2h32 (cinema version), 5h (long TV version)
Music Emir Kusturica & Dejan Sparavalo, played by the No Smoking Orchestra
Script Ranko Bozić & Emir Kusturica, based on an idea by Gordan Mihić
Photography Michel Amathieu
Box office 536.000 (France), 1.129.900 (Europe)


National Education Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2004 César of the Best film of the European Union, 2005

  • National Education Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2004
  • Audience award at the Melbourne Film Festival, 2004
  • César of the Best film of the European Union, 2005
  • Golden Globe of the Best European Film, 2005
  • Best Balkan film at the Sofia film festival, 2005


What could be better for the village than a touristic railway ? And what could be worse for tourism than the war ? Busy with the construction of the railway, Luka closes the eyes on the war. He is specially worried by this donkey that blocks the train. But when his wife leaves him for a musician and Miloš, his son, is called up for the military service, his life starts to look like a battlefield. Fightings start soon in the station and Luka realizes he's at the heart of a true battlefield. Moreover, Miloš is made prisoner. At this time he meets love in the person of Sabaha, a Muslim nurse. But Sabaha should serve as en hostage for Luka, and must be exchanged if he wants to get his son back.





CountryFormat audio languages subtitles languages buy online Description
Australia DVD Z4 PAL Serbian 5.1 making of
Germany DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, German
Belgium DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, French 5.1 French, Dutch Double DVD edition
Belgium DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, French 5.1 French, DutchAmazon.fr4 films set1)
Spain DVD Z2 PAL Plurilingue, Castellano, Serbio, Español castillan
France DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, French 5.1 FrenchAmazon.frDouble DVD
More details
France DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, French 5.1 FrenchAmazon.fr2 films set2)
Italy DVD Z2 PAL Serbian 5.1, Italian
United Kingdom DVD Z2 PAL Serbian
Russia DVD Z2 PAL Serbian, RussianRussian


The shooting lasted thirteen months, from March 2002 to April 2003, without any real pause. This marathon shooting is mainly due to the unfavourable weather conditions (poor summer, rigorous winter), and to the constant rewriting of the scenario by Emir.

Stribor Kusturica (captain Aleksic) : “Dying does not hurt, it is living that hurts”.

A long version of the film was broadcast on Serbian television in January 2006 (in 6 episodes of 50 minutes).

During the shooting, a bunch of mad Frenchmen managed to arrive on the set, and with a lot of luck, they could meet Emir Kusturica himself, who happened to be very pleased by this irruption. This scene ends in a funny way the film that these Frenchmen were shooting : Mister K.

Shooting anecdotes by Jerome Thiault (sound engineer), collected in February 2003 :

  • The first days I was a little behind, because most of the time, I work following the text, the intonations. And I was sometimes a little late. I discussed this with one of my assistants, and I realized it. I had to integrate the notion of Serb, the rhythm, the sonority of the words. I even think that I know now when it is understandable. Because there are two things : the comprehension of the word and the pronunciation. That is, about the technical part of the voice or word, I know when it is good or when it is not good. About the message, that, I do not know. I do not have enough vocabulary. But a priori, it is not a problem.
  • I once was badly pissed off because I made a cut : there was somebody who spoke and the dog which barked, it was before the sequence with the bears. I said “cut !”. Emir left his tent and : “Who said that ?”. There I understood that no one should intervene. And then another time, I had a convocation at the hotel, but in fact Emir found that I asepticized the sound too much. It is the scene in the church, when Nada returns. He thought there was no more density in the sound. I had done that because we heard too much the noise of the camera…

Shooting anecdotes by Michel Amathieu (director of photography), collected in February 2003 :

  • With Emir, we have a great complicity since the beginning of the film. I take that as a challenge, each time he says we will do it this way or that way, etc. I have to find out how to make it, how to carry out his ideas. I don't manage each time, but the game is to find solutions. In fact, when he says something, he knows what that implies because he has a perfect technical control.
  • I have a filter which is used to raise the brown, to change environments a little, to create interesting sorts of browns. But the film will keep a normal aspect. I would like that it gives a style, without that being a coloured effect. What I search is to work on the negative at most.
  • In fact, there are only few images that will need to be improved numerically : the plans with the animals (there are cables, cords, wires) ; some plans were made with blue mate - not much, it is not the largest part of film. May be five percent of the film will be improved numerically. Since the beginning, we had foreseen with Emir to make a photographic final adjustment, more traditional, rather than a digital one. He doesn't like it.

The scene of the cascade, by Slavko Štimac :

  • It was really something ! We were shooting it in the mountains, about mid-October. There were hot water buckets to warm the water, but the heat flowed to the middle of the cascade, where Sabaha was. In fact, this scene recalled me a film by Sam Peckinpah in whom I played, as a child. We shot it in England. I was in a scene with James Coburn who made a dream where he ran into a lake. If I remember well, we shot it in November. Three takes were needed. Three times, he dived in the water. In November, in England ! Then I remembered it and I said to myself : “Let's go ! James was fifty-five and he succeeded, so where's the problem ? I will do it too.” But I must say that it was terribly cold when this scene was shot !

Official website

Note : The website was recently given up by Studiocanal


  • Brazil Kusturica literally kicks our ass, he pulls out shivers, tripes, laughter and tears. His rock'n'roll barnum circus is not amusing, it is not even pleasant, it is exhausting, explosive, multicoloured, without common measure nor possible comparison, even if you know well his love for some of his peers and fathers, Visconti first.
  • Première Probably the softest film and the most optimistic of its author. In parallel, like all strong works, he risks, once more, to hurt the well-thinking people by systematically refusing the generally accepted ideas.
  • Studio Here is a film which brings pleasure, which believes in love and fraternity, and which overflows of life and miracles…
  • Ciné Live First an extravagant fable macerated in the liquors and the hullabaloo, life is a miracle rocks then in a burlesque love-story full of poetry and softness. Excessive and exhilarated Kusturica, but great !
  • Monsieur Cinéma During more than two hours, Kusturica brings us into a swirl of strange situations, inhabited by a stunning music. The rhythm is difficult to follow since the characters are continuately agitated (…) Emir Kusturica sees the life lucidly, with its dramas and its worries. But also with its joys.




en/life_is_a_miracle.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/01 16:01 by matthieu1