The Balkans Diary: Emir Kusturica
Why in your work you always try to tell the truth to people, which sometimes is not too pleasant?
First I made films so that I would not be ashamed in front of my parents, friends and teachers. I never thought that I would win several Oscars or Palme d’Or at the Cannes. I simply made good movies for people. I am sure that if at the beginning of my filmmaking career I had set myself a task of making a film that would win all the possible awards right away I would have achieved nothing in life. I had moral principles – I set myself a task of telling the truth to people. That is why today people know me and watch my films all over the world. A human life as well as the civilization cannot develop without strong ideas. An apartment, a car, money and a good life are all nice things. But they become false if they turn into a single purpose in life. Each one of us needs to have a purpose in life. But if things become the main meaning in life or its primary purpose, nothing can come of it. Nothing can be attained this way. There’s got to be the main idea, main goal, which leads us in life in spiritual way. One must pick a goal and choose one’s path. Only then we can get whet we want. The idea itself will lead us to the results. A rich man can be kind. But if he builds all his life with the single goal to become rich, his life is meaningless. Everything that is based on a spiritual idea results in the person achieving his positive goal. If everything is turned upside down, it is hard to achieve anything positive.
The modern technologies and the Internet attract people more and more. Each one of us is under the big Brother's control, even though we don't realize that. Are we turning into robots that in the end will lose their spirituality and individuality?
Today's world is filled with the hi-tech pagans. This pagan faith does not bring any good to the humankind. A human being is under the constant control of technology. His brain and all other parts of the body are under control. Everything that happens to each of us is accessible for the new technologies. But we cannot say that a modern man is any better than a man in the Renaissance era. We cannot say that a man from the era of the industrial revolution is better or worse than today's hi-tech people. But modern people are left without a spiritual guidance. They still have unkind intentions, some want to dominate the others and turn people into slaves. What does God give to people? God gives them uniqueness, which is leveled in today's world. A human being is divided into two parts, but into several.
Hi-tech person of today leans more towards the biological and not spiritual life. He is interested only in material values; he is a pagan of technologies. And now this pagan man opposes the divine man described by Dostoyevsky. Americans have conducted an interesting study. They picked the best writer of all times and nations. Leo Tolstoy placed first. Dostoyevsky did not make it to the list at all. They were bothered by the deep insight of Fedor Mikhailovich into the human soul. I don't want to say anything bad about Tolstoy, but Dostoyevsky opens the human soul to us as well as the human's unlimited opportunities. Even today he talks to us in modern language needed by each one of us. He calls for spirituality. The modern hi-tech pagan is more convenient; he is a consumer and asks no questions. He looses individuality; he becomes a part of a controlled crowd. He has no soul. Today most Serbians as well as Russians turn into hi-tech pagans. They try to replicate some samples of the Western culture, which are not the best. There is a lot of interesting stuff there, but the young people choose the worst – the hi-tech paganism. I hope that major changes will take place in the West as well; one cannot live without spirituality.
You visit Russia often. You have a lot of friends here. What do the Serbs and Russians have in common? And why in the XX century our countries went through so many human tragedies? What are we suffering so much for?
The peoples of our countries have gone through many tragedies. Russia is a country where conquerors always tried to get to – from Napoleon to Hitler. Everybody who came with a war has always sought your country with its vast territory and rich natural resources. The suffering of the people of Russia is a huge enigma of the history. Did the Russian people have to suffer so much? They really have lived through more than any other nation on the planet. Serbia has also gone through a lot of human tragedy. We have lost two thirds of our able-bodied population. But for the World War I there would be 40 million population in Serbia now and not 9 million. Historic events are always pulling us into these human tragedies, into the wars.
Other Slavic nations have managed to adjust to the historic circumstances. The Czech people for example, managed to find a compromise with the conquerors. The Nazi were a lot more charitable to them than they were towards the Russians or the Serbians. In World War II Yugoslavia got itself in a historic trap. Great Britain used that. The Serbians went out to the streets to protest against Hitler. Churchill ordered all the Europeans to fight against the fascists to prevent Hitler from conquering Europe. We listened to him, and on March 27, 1941 the people went into the streets. It was all organized by the British secret service that complied with Churchill's orders. After that Hitler gave orders to bomb Yugoslavia. We are constantly being bombed: allies of the anti-Hitler coalition in 1944 and the NATO countries in 1999.
The world now is so designed that it is constantly interested in wars. Despite the fact that in literature wars are condemned and the majority of the people speak against wars, modern wars have turned into a profitable business. It is a permanent business that only thinks how to profit from the human grief. And the main hypocrisy of today's world is the fact that those who organize wars at the same time finance the anti-war movement. A human destiny is tied in a tight knot, which cannot be untied: from a war to profit and from profit to a new war. This is how capital and huge wealth are created. Modern wars are conducted under the slogans «Democracy and humanity». The war as a result of which we lost Kosovo was called a charitable «Operation Angel». And nobody asks the main question – why? 4.5 million people died in Vietnam, there are already a million people killed in Iraq, people are killed in Afghanistan on a daily basis, and we will never learn the real figures. It shows that capitalism is the main military enterprise. If an angel came down from the skies and told Bush that there would be no more wars ever again, everybody would have lost their jobs. Wars stimulate new technologies, they push people forward. I am against wars, but they are a part of the human history and its tragic development.