Before the Rain


1h 55m 1994
Before the Rain

Brief Synopsis

The war in Bosnia tears apart communities, families and lovers.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
War
Political
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Aim Productions; Anastasia; Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services; Audio Lab Studio; British Airways; British Screen Finance; Camera Press; Copperwheat And Blundell; Eastman Kodak; European Coproduction Fund; Film Finances, Inc.; Fx Rentals; Gestetner; Government And People Of Macedonia; Hewlett Packard; Ibm; Leica Camera Inc; Mexique; Muji; Ncr; Noe Productions; Pal-Air; Perdix Firearms Limited; Peter Govey Film Opticals; Phillips; Polygram Filmed Entertainment; Red Sun Bonsai Company; Redman Entertainments; Skk; Stitches And Daughters; Stopanska Banka Macedonia; Technicolor; Technovision Cameras Ltd; Tom Blau Gallery; Unison; Vardar Films; Video Film And Grip Company; WB De Lane Lea; Webb Lighting; Woodhall Catering
Distribution Company
Gramercy Pictures; Focus Features; Gramercy Pictures; Independent Films (If); Mikado Film; Pan Europeenne; Pandora Film Produktion; Polygram Video; Sogepaq S.A.
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Macedonia

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Synopsis

A love story told in three parts--linked by characters and events which alternate between contemporary London and Macedonia, in the former Yugoslavia. In the first section, a young Greek Orthodox monk hides an Albanian girl from her enemies; the second segment follows a London photo-agency employee torn between a Pulitizer Prize-winning war photographer and her husband; the last segment follows the photographer as he returns to his native Macedonian village, intent upon forgetting the horrors of war, only to discover that a fierce anti-Muslim ethnic hatred has already infected the once-peaceful Christian villagers.

Crew

Goran Acevski

Unit Runner

Goran Acevski

Driver

Steve Acevski

Production Manager

Dragan Adamovic

Best Boy

Polly Aitken

Footsteps Editor

Nicole Albert

Set Dresser

Vanja Aljinovic

1st Assistant Director

Dimce Angelovski

Production Assistant

Marco Armenta

Still Photograph ("Two Children Dead In The Morgue" (Frank Spooner Pictures))

Stavre Avramovski

Scenic Artist

Alex Bailey

Still Photographer

Dr. Kosta Balabanov

Art History Consultant; Technology Consultant

Dr. Kosta Balananov

Special Thanks

Peter Baldock

Sound Editor

Kim Ballard

Special Thanks

Milan Banov

Special Thanks

Marc Baschet

Co-Producer (Vardar Film)

Stacy Bell

Unit Publicist (Dennis Davidson Associates)

W Betsch

Still Photograph ("Punk Soldier With Swastika Armband" (Camera Press London))

Sead Biharac

Grip Assistant

Maja Bikova

Assistant (To Milcho Manchevski)

Bernard Bisson

Still Photograph ("Soldiers With Crosses" (Sygma))

Petar Bogoevski

Gaffer

Sophie Bogue

Business Affairs (Noe)

Slavko Bojkovski

Unit Runner

Slavko Bojkovski

Driver

Sophie Bourson

Business Affairs (Noe)

St John Bowman

Props Master

Saso Bozarevski

Floor Runner

Fero Brant

Camera Assistant

John G Campbell

Special Thanks

Filip Cemerski

3rd Assistant Director

Patrick Chauvel

Still Photograph ("Women In Graveyard" (Sygma))

Steve Cleary

Special Thanks

John Coleman

Special Thanks

Judy Counihan

Producer

Jose Covo

Special Thanks

Simon Cox

Boom Operator

Henryck Croscicki

Special Thanks

Bob Crowdey

Special Thanks

Ranco Cukovic

Still Photographs ("Emaciated Man" "Bosnian Refugee" (Camera Press London))

Mone Damevski

3rd Assistant Director

Moni Damevski

Casting Director

Virginia Damevski

Other

Dragan Dautovski

Original Music Composer ("Anastasia")

Jan Decruz

Special Thanks

Luc Delahaye

Still Photograph ("Child With '1' On Forehead" (Rex Features))

Charles Henri Depierrefeu

Music Archives

Vasil Dikov

Other

Johnny Donne

Key Grip

Bob Dow-wansey

Other

Mike Downey

Special Thanks

Frédérique Dumas

Music Producer

Frédérique Dumas

Coproducer

Frederique Dumas-zajdela

Music Producer

Frederique Dumas-zajdela

Co-Producer

Graham Easton

Special Thanks

George Elliot

Special Thanks

Peter Elliott

Dialogue Editor

Sarah Ellis

Cashier

Georgi Fidanovski

Other

Johnny Fontana

Special Effects (Any Effects)

Tina Foster

Wardrobe Assistant

Remy Fourneron

Other

Kim Gaster

2nd Assistant Editor

Nic Gaster

Director (2nd Unit)

Nic Gaster

Editor

Dimitar Genin

Other

Georgi Georgievski-joker

Unit Location Manager

Vesna Giceska

Other

Renee Glynne

Script Supervisor

Dimitar Grbevski

Adr Consultant

Diane Greaves

Foley Artist

Annabel Hands

Other

Annabel Hands

Standby Props

Jay Handscomb

Other

Simon Hardy

Special Thanks

Caroline Harris

Costume Designer

Eve Heeks

Assistant Accountant

Aidan Hobbs

Sound Recordist

Derek Holding

Dialogue Editor

Bob Horsfield

Best Boy

Michael Houseman

Construction Manager

Roger Hutchings

Still Photographs ("Child With Broken Leg" "Child With Yale Sweatshirt" "Man With Gun In Village" (Network))

Colin Hutton

Art Department Assistant

Guner Ismail

Special Thanks

Katja Ivanova

Wardrobe Assistant

Biki Jandrevska

Production Assistant

Morton Jankov

Boom Operator

Robert Jazadziska

Art Department Assistant

Jon Jones

Still Photograph ("Men With Gas Masks" (Sygma))

Darius Khondji

Special Thanks

Petar Kirilov

Other

Cédomir Kolar

Producer

Vele Lee Koraboski

Music Engineer

Jagoda Kostadinovska

Cashier

Dragan B Kostic

Music Archives

Vlado Krajcevski

Helicopter Pilots

Vladimir Kralevski

Macedonian Church Consultant

Zaklina Krstevska

Assistant Costume Designer

Milisav Krstevski

Best Boy

Sharon Lamofsky

Production Designer

Jenifer Landor

Production Coordinator

Nikola Lazarevski

Assistant Art Director

Catherine Lecompte

Production Accounting (France)

Chris Lee

Driver

Chris Lee

Unit Runner

Philippe Lesourd

Other

Philippe Lesourd

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Sharon Lomofsky

Production Designer

Keith Lowes

Dubbing Associate

Valentin Lozey

Special Effects

Milcho Manchevski

Screenwriter

Xavier Marchand

Special Thanks

Cameron Mccracken

Special Thanks

Cameron Mccracken

Legal Advisor (Simon Olswang & Co)

Laurie Mcdowell

1st Assistant Editor

Laurie Mcdowell

Sound (2nd Unit)

Finn Mcgrath

2nd Assistant Director

Boro Micevski

Scenic Artist

Penco Mihajlov

Other

Suzana Mihajlovska

Storyboard Artist

Vangel Mijovski

Other

Vangel Mijovski

Standby Props

David Clayton Miller

Production Assistant

Sheila Fraser Milne

Associate Producer

Pance Minov

Set Dresser

Biljana Mirkovic

Script Supervisor

Mile Mladenovic

Construction Manager

Zoran Mladenovic

1st Assistant Director (Pre-Production)

Sophie Mollins

Still Photographer

David Munns

Production Designer

Jez Murrell

Driver

Jez Murrell

Unit Runner

Mustafa Mustafa

Other

Mane Naskov

Grip Assistant

Andreas Newman

Special Thanks

Mira Nikcevska

Other

Violeta Nikolovska

Dialect Coach

Aleksander Nikolovski

Driver

Aleksander Nikolovski

Unit Runner

Ognena Nikuljska

Other

Gradimir Novakovic

Other

Kevin O'shea

Special Thanks

Marjan Ognenovski

Driver

Marjan Ognenovski

Unit Runner

Jason Olive

Other

Zlatko Origjanski

Original Music Composer ("Anastasia")

Sreten Pakovski

Camera Assistant

John Pardue

Sound (2nd Unit)

John Pardue

Camera Assistant

Carter Parrat

Special Thanks

Tori Parry

Production Coordinator

Parvan Parvnov

Fight Arranger; Stunt Coordinator

Clive Pendry

Assistant Mixer

Aline Perry

Special Thanks

Simon Perry

Special Thanks

Branko Petroski

Other

Janko Petrovski

Other

Isabelle Calippe Piers

Producer'S Assistant

David Pinnington

Unit Location Manager

Tose Pop-simonov

Music Producer

Nikola Popovic

Production Supervisor (Macedonia)

Thierry Pouget

Other

John Powell

Other

Vlado Rafajlovski

Other

Zoran Ralev

Unit Runner

Zoran Ralev

Driver

David Redman

Associate Producer

Austin Reed

Special Thanks

Simon Reeves

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Liora Reich

Casting Director

Andrew Reid

Camera Trainee

Stuart Renfrew

3rd Assistant Director

Zoran Risteski

Transportation Manager

Michael Roberts

Assistant Art Director

Patrice Salja

Production Assistant

Dragan Salkovski

Cameraman (2nd Unit)

Vladimir Samoilovski

Steadicam Operator

Jaques Sanjuan

Artistic Advisor

Dragan Sapic

Other

Paul Sarony

Line Producer (Macedonia)

Simon Scotland

Special Thanks

Chloe Sizer

Production Associate

Mary Soan

1st Assistant Director

Anne Sopel

Associate Editor

Zoran Spasovski

Original Music Composer ("Anastasia")

Wayne Stambler

Still Photograph ("Madonna'S Breasts" (Retna Pictures Limited))

Jack Stew

Foley Artist

Dimitar Stojanovski

Other

Hugh Strain

Re-Recording Mixer

Gico Stratiev

Props Master

Ted Swanscott

Foley Mixer

Ted Swanscott

Adr Mixer

Kenny Sykes

Gaffer

Sam Taylor

Producer

Manuel Teran

Director Of Photography

Chris Thompson

Line Producer (London)

Radmila Todorovic

Makeup And Hair Design

Sandra Todorovic

Makeup And Hair Design

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
War
Political
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Aim Productions; Anastasia; Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services; Audio Lab Studio; British Airways; British Screen Finance; Camera Press; Copperwheat And Blundell; Eastman Kodak; European Coproduction Fund; Film Finances, Inc.; Fx Rentals; Gestetner; Government And People Of Macedonia; Hewlett Packard; Ibm; Leica Camera Inc; Mexique; Muji; Ncr; Noe Productions; Pal-Air; Perdix Firearms Limited; Peter Govey Film Opticals; Phillips; Polygram Filmed Entertainment; Red Sun Bonsai Company; Redman Entertainments; Skk; Stitches And Daughters; Stopanska Banka Macedonia; Technicolor; Technovision Cameras Ltd; Tom Blau Gallery; Unison; Vardar Films; Video Film And Grip Company; WB De Lane Lea; Webb Lighting; Woodhall Catering
Distribution Company
Gramercy Pictures; Focus Features; Gramercy Pictures; Independent Films (If); Mikado Film; Pan Europeenne; Pandora Film Produktion; Polygram Video; Sogepaq S.A.
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Macedonia

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Award Nominations

Best Foreign Language Film

1994

Articles

Before the Rain


The newly-formed Republic of Macedonia caused a big international splash only three years after its formation with the release of Before the Rain in 1994. The country's first film to garner an Academy Award nomination for Foreign Language film, the anthology drama earned many comparisons at the time to the same year's Pulp Fiction but quickly earned an identity all its own.

The film's narrative shifts between London and the Macedonian countryside, with the main thread following a war photographer who returns home after Yugoslavia has split into multiple nations to find that his homeland has been decimated by war. Actor Rade Serbedzija was himself one of Yugoslavia's most beloved actors for over two decades and refused to take a side in the violent conflict that tore his homeland apart, which made him an ideal choice to cast as the film's lead. He fled Belgrade in 1992 with his wife and newborn daughter, leaving behind a career that included a legendary 1974 performance as Hamlet on stage.

One of the many admirers of Serbedzija's craft was the film's first-time director, Macedonian-born Milcho Manchevski, who grew up watching Serbedzija in plays and films and called him "one of the sweetest people I've ever worked with" in a Los Angeles Times interview on February 28, 1995. "Rade has a big heart, and there's a lot of suffering in his face - he's an odd combination of the old-fashioned romantic and something sort of beastly, and I think that's the essence of his appeal."

Manchevski was educated at Southern Illinois University after leaving his native country and made New York his home for many years, making commercials, music videos, and documentaries. He had already won the 1992 MTV award for best rap video for Arrested Development's "Tennessee," an homage to Diane Arbus and Robert Frank, when he embarked on this film, written in a week after gestating in his mind for a year.

Though Manchevski was the writer-director's ideal leading man, the female lead proved to be a bit trickier to cast. The late Katrin Cartlidge, who had just starred in Mike Leigh's Naked and would go on to appear in Breaking the Waves (1996), was ultimately cast as Anne, and she would later return to similar territory with the Bosnian war drama No Man's Land (2001). However, previous casting announcements for the role included a May 7, 1993 item about Natasha Richardson in Back Stage and subsequent names like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Amanda Donahoe listed the following June.

The real-life 1989 collapse of Yugoslavia when the Communist Party lost power had fractured the area into five countries by 1992, which had a life-changing impact on Serbedzija. "I'm a Serb born in Croatia," he told the Los Angeles Times, "and my language, mentality and culture are Serbo-Croatian. As an actor I worked all over Yugoslavia for audiences of all background... I did what I could to stop the war. I attended meetings, spoke on television and wrote poems and songs protesting nationalism. Because of those activities and because I refused to take sides, both the Serbs and the Croats hate me now and that's why I had to leave."

The decision to shoot on location proved to be a challenge as well, something Manchevski likely anticipated when he wrote the script (which was penned in English, then translated back to Macedonian). The crew spoke ten different languages and had to build its own roads for many of the inaccessible locations, which accounted for a large part of the $2.5 million budget (nearly scuttled when the UK's Channel Four pulled out after production had commenced, with British Screen stepping in at the last minute). "I was concerned that people would be upset with me," said Manchevski in a February 21, 1995 interview for Voice. "Some people said, 'We don't all live in run-down villages, we also drive Mercedes cars. Why didn't you show that? But most of them read the film just as I wanted them to, which is as a warning."

Before the Rain was picked up by Gramercy in October of 1994 after winning the Gold Lion at the Venice Film Festival in September, 1994, beating out competition like Natural Born Killers (with a jury including none other than David Lynch). The film also made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival (the same one that famously included Pulp Fiction), and earned a big supporter in Janet Maslin, whose review was widely circulated to promote the film (which was theatrically released via Polygram Film International Classics).

However, one of the film's biggest controversies was yet to come with its Oscar nomination when the Academy classified it as a submission from "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." This politically-charged designation caused Manchevski, several government officials, and the cast and crew to protest. (The name of Macedonia was being contested by Greece at the time, who claimed its people owned that designation.) A compromise of sorts appeared during the actual telecast (in which Russia took home the award for Burnt by the Sun) when presenter Jeremy Irons disregarded the classification and simply referred to the film as being from "Macedonia," a naming dispute that continues to this day.

By Nathaniel Thompson
Before The Rain

Before the Rain

The newly-formed Republic of Macedonia caused a big international splash only three years after its formation with the release of Before the Rain in 1994. The country's first film to garner an Academy Award nomination for Foreign Language film, the anthology drama earned many comparisons at the time to the same year's Pulp Fiction but quickly earned an identity all its own. The film's narrative shifts between London and the Macedonian countryside, with the main thread following a war photographer who returns home after Yugoslavia has split into multiple nations to find that his homeland has been decimated by war. Actor Rade Serbedzija was himself one of Yugoslavia's most beloved actors for over two decades and refused to take a side in the violent conflict that tore his homeland apart, which made him an ideal choice to cast as the film's lead. He fled Belgrade in 1992 with his wife and newborn daughter, leaving behind a career that included a legendary 1974 performance as Hamlet on stage. One of the many admirers of Serbedzija's craft was the film's first-time director, Macedonian-born Milcho Manchevski, who grew up watching Serbedzija in plays and films and called him "one of the sweetest people I've ever worked with" in a Los Angeles Times interview on February 28, 1995. "Rade has a big heart, and there's a lot of suffering in his face - he's an odd combination of the old-fashioned romantic and something sort of beastly, and I think that's the essence of his appeal." Manchevski was educated at Southern Illinois University after leaving his native country and made New York his home for many years, making commercials, music videos, and documentaries. He had already won the 1992 MTV award for best rap video for Arrested Development's "Tennessee," an homage to Diane Arbus and Robert Frank, when he embarked on this film, written in a week after gestating in his mind for a year. Though Manchevski was the writer-director's ideal leading man, the female lead proved to be a bit trickier to cast. The late Katrin Cartlidge, who had just starred in Mike Leigh's Naked and would go on to appear in Breaking the Waves (1996), was ultimately cast as Anne, and she would later return to similar territory with the Bosnian war drama No Man's Land (2001). However, previous casting announcements for the role included a May 7, 1993 item about Natasha Richardson in Back Stage and subsequent names like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Amanda Donahoe listed the following June. The real-life 1989 collapse of Yugoslavia when the Communist Party lost power had fractured the area into five countries by 1992, which had a life-changing impact on Serbedzija. "I'm a Serb born in Croatia," he told the Los Angeles Times, "and my language, mentality and culture are Serbo-Croatian. As an actor I worked all over Yugoslavia for audiences of all background... I did what I could to stop the war. I attended meetings, spoke on television and wrote poems and songs protesting nationalism. Because of those activities and because I refused to take sides, both the Serbs and the Croats hate me now and that's why I had to leave." The decision to shoot on location proved to be a challenge as well, something Manchevski likely anticipated when he wrote the script (which was penned in English, then translated back to Macedonian). The crew spoke ten different languages and had to build its own roads for many of the inaccessible locations, which accounted for a large part of the $2.5 million budget (nearly scuttled when the UK's Channel Four pulled out after production had commenced, with British Screen stepping in at the last minute). "I was concerned that people would be upset with me," said Manchevski in a February 21, 1995 interview for Voice. "Some people said, 'We don't all live in run-down villages, we also drive Mercedes cars. Why didn't you show that? But most of them read the film just as I wanted them to, which is as a warning." Before the Rain was picked up by Gramercy in October of 1994 after winning the Gold Lion at the Venice Film Festival in September, 1994, beating out competition like Natural Born Killers (with a jury including none other than David Lynch). The film also made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival (the same one that famously included Pulp Fiction), and earned a big supporter in Janet Maslin, whose review was widely circulated to promote the film (which was theatrically released via Polygram Film International Classics). However, one of the film's biggest controversies was yet to come with its Oscar nomination when the Academy classified it as a submission from "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." This politically-charged designation caused Manchevski, several government officials, and the cast and crew to protest. (The name of Macedonia was being contested by Greece at the time, who claimed its people owned that designation.) A compromise of sorts appeared during the actual telecast (in which Russia took home the award for Burnt by the Sun) when presenter Jeremy Irons disregarded the classification and simply referred to the film as being from "Macedonia," a naming dispute that continues to this day. By Nathaniel Thompson

Before the Rain - BEFORE THE RAIN - Milcho Manchevski's Acclaimed 1994 Film on the Balkan War


Before the Rain is an impressively mature and affecting movie about war in the Balkans. Avoiding a standard drama of fear and reprisals, with bloody massacres that dull the nature of the conflict, Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski examines the roots of hatred in the hill country. Macedonia was not a direct part of the Serbo-Croatian horrors of the 1990s, and Manchevski strikes a cautionary note to say, "It could happen here." A priest proclaims, "Time never dies. The circle is never round." This bit of poetic license is echoed in various visuals and within the narrative style itself. The violence and tragedy isn't a cause-and-effect snowball, but an endless cycle where the order of events isn't important.

Synopsis: Part 1: Words. A young Macedonian priest under a vow of silence (Grégoire Colin) tries to hide the teenage Muslim girl Zamira (Labina Mitevska) from Christian gunmen seeking to avenge the death of a shepherd. Part 2: Faces. London photo editor Anne (Kaitlin Cartlidge of Naked) is encouraged by her mother to reconcile with her husband Nick (Jay Villiers), but gets caught with her boyfriend Aleksander, a native Macedonian and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer (Rade Serbedzija, Manifesto, Eyes Wide Shut, Memento). At a restaurant, Nick is overjoyed to hear that Anne is pregnant, but she tells him that she wants a divorce. A problem with a waiter, apparently a Macedonian immigrant, intrudes on their personal pain. Part 3: Pictures. Aleksander returns to Macedonia after fourteen years and finds his village split by feuds between Macedonian Christians and Albanian Muslims. He can't see his old girlfriend Hana (SIlvija Stojanovska), a Muslim, because members of her family are obsessed with killing Christians. When a shepherd is murdered with a pitchfork, Hana asks Aleksander to protect her daughter, Zamira. Aleksander must oppose his own kin to try and shield the terrorized captive girl.

Manchevski's film shows rural Macedonians as a proud, rugged people that persist in age-old religious and tribal hatreds. The land is beautiful and fertile but the social life is a wretched succession of vendettas and funerals. Families arm themselves with automatic weapons and harbor dark thoughts of revenge against their perceived enemies. As a young soldier tells Aleksander on the bus back to his hometown, go into the wrong place and you'll get your head chopped off.

Instead of focusing on one tragedy, Manchevski weaves a tale of complicated relationships between lovers and cousins. Religious and tribal hatreds are always at the boiling point, and individuals that cross the line suffer the worst consequences. We feel for all the players even as some storylines are forced into the background. Manchevski is careful not to let dramatics overshadow his theme, the nature of Balkan violence. In fact, attempting to "solve" the riddle of the narrative leads nowhere, as the film is ripe with intentional temporal inconsistencies. Aleksander's return to Macedonia in Part 3 comes after his visit with Anne in London ("She died in a taxi"), yet he becomes involved in events that precede the action of Part 1. And that's just the beginning of the odd sequencing tricks. More than once, a character misses or refuses a phone call that, according to the film's inverted logic, may come from the past or the future.

Manchevski has a sensitive eye for his fellow Macedonians, and Before the Rain sketches a number of interesting characters. Protagonist Aleksander cares deeply about his old girlfriend Hana and risks his life for her daughter -- who is possibly also his daughter. But he behaves very ignobly toward his London girlfriend Anne, dropping in for fast sex and ditching her when she mentions her desire for a family. Aleksander is a foreigner in London, but his outside experiences make him a foreigner in his own land. He ends up committed to a moral position that he knows his own relatives will never accept. One can rape or murder "the enemy" with impunity, but trying to save a frightened girl jeopardizes the guilty status quo. Pride, honor and national identity distill into a general pigheadedness. The tribe becomes brutal for fear of appearing weak.

Photographer Aleksander specializes in war reportage, the film's least original idea. His ambivalence toward his work -- which wins him awards but does little more than market atrocities to curious readers -- belongs in something like 1983's Under Fire. Manchevski also quotes a scene in Volker Schlöndorff's Circle of Deceit, when Aleksander talks of a Christian militiaman executing a prisoner, just to give him a photo opportunity.

Manchevski also plays the movie quote game, albeit far better than most. When the young couple flees the monastery we know they'll be at risk from bands of killers on both sides. It's not unlike John Huston's A Walk With Love and Death, where two young lovers are set adrift amid the horrors of the Hundred Years' War. Manchevski underscores his theme of cyclic violence with animal imagery suggested by Buñuel, Clouzot and Sam Peckinpah. A pea-brained young militiaman shoots his machine gun indiscriminately, and then uses it to blow a housecat to pieces. A clutch of callous children torture and roast turtles in a circle of fire, referencing the "circle that is never round" but also Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. In England, another unlucky turtle waits in a restaurant aquarium to be eaten.

That English episode is the most problematic. Manchevski's three chapter titles relate words, faces and pictures to acts of violence, and he interrupts the awkward domestic squabble in the restaurant with another Peckinpah-like massacre. The restaurant owner, an Irishman, is offended when Nick associates terrorism with Ulster, but the Macedonian conflict spills over into a senseless killing spree here as well. The scene is more than a little forced, but it's certainly a jolting surprise.

Manchevsky is more successful on his home turf, where he shows his countrymen lovingly giving birth to new lambs, and then contemplating raping a Muslim girl on general principles. A mailman whistles the theme from Butch Cassidy while riding his bicycle, and then segues into The Internationale. The rude lady in the rural post office has no intention of dealing with a phone caller who cannot speak her language. All seem oblivious or uncaring about the fact that their beautiful valley is ready to explode with internecine conflict. This is war not with armies but on a neighborhood and family level. The film expresses the pain, misery and hopelessness of it all, and makes any peaceful solution seem like a miracle.

Criterion's DVD of Before the Rain presents this stunningly beautiful film in a glowing enhanced transfer. The director appears on a commentary with film scholar Annette Insdorf, to explain some of the more puzzling aspects of the film and to tell the story of its production. Interesting actor Rade Serbedzija tells his story in a new interview, and we see coverage of the filming in a 1993 TV documentary. Raw behind the scenes footage has apparently been recovered from an old Electronic Press Kit.

The extras go into even more detail, with soundtrack-only excerpts highlighting the Macedonian band Anastasia, a gallery of the director's photographs, his music video Tennessee and more galleries of stills, storyboards and letters. Ian Christie contributes a concise liner note essay for the insert booklet. Criterion's disc producer is Debra McClutchy.

For more information about Before the Rain, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Before the Rain, go to TCM Shopping

by Glenn Erickson

Before the Rain - BEFORE THE RAIN - Milcho Manchevski's Acclaimed 1994 Film on the Balkan War

Before the Rain is an impressively mature and affecting movie about war in the Balkans. Avoiding a standard drama of fear and reprisals, with bloody massacres that dull the nature of the conflict, Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski examines the roots of hatred in the hill country. Macedonia was not a direct part of the Serbo-Croatian horrors of the 1990s, and Manchevski strikes a cautionary note to say, "It could happen here." A priest proclaims, "Time never dies. The circle is never round." This bit of poetic license is echoed in various visuals and within the narrative style itself. The violence and tragedy isn't a cause-and-effect snowball, but an endless cycle where the order of events isn't important. Synopsis: Part 1: Words. A young Macedonian priest under a vow of silence (Grégoire Colin) tries to hide the teenage Muslim girl Zamira (Labina Mitevska) from Christian gunmen seeking to avenge the death of a shepherd. Part 2: Faces. London photo editor Anne (Kaitlin Cartlidge of Naked) is encouraged by her mother to reconcile with her husband Nick (Jay Villiers), but gets caught with her boyfriend Aleksander, a native Macedonian and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer (Rade Serbedzija, Manifesto, Eyes Wide Shut, Memento). At a restaurant, Nick is overjoyed to hear that Anne is pregnant, but she tells him that she wants a divorce. A problem with a waiter, apparently a Macedonian immigrant, intrudes on their personal pain. Part 3: Pictures. Aleksander returns to Macedonia after fourteen years and finds his village split by feuds between Macedonian Christians and Albanian Muslims. He can't see his old girlfriend Hana (SIlvija Stojanovska), a Muslim, because members of her family are obsessed with killing Christians. When a shepherd is murdered with a pitchfork, Hana asks Aleksander to protect her daughter, Zamira. Aleksander must oppose his own kin to try and shield the terrorized captive girl. Manchevski's film shows rural Macedonians as a proud, rugged people that persist in age-old religious and tribal hatreds. The land is beautiful and fertile but the social life is a wretched succession of vendettas and funerals. Families arm themselves with automatic weapons and harbor dark thoughts of revenge against their perceived enemies. As a young soldier tells Aleksander on the bus back to his hometown, go into the wrong place and you'll get your head chopped off. Instead of focusing on one tragedy, Manchevski weaves a tale of complicated relationships between lovers and cousins. Religious and tribal hatreds are always at the boiling point, and individuals that cross the line suffer the worst consequences. We feel for all the players even as some storylines are forced into the background. Manchevski is careful not to let dramatics overshadow his theme, the nature of Balkan violence. In fact, attempting to "solve" the riddle of the narrative leads nowhere, as the film is ripe with intentional temporal inconsistencies. Aleksander's return to Macedonia in Part 3 comes after his visit with Anne in London ("She died in a taxi"), yet he becomes involved in events that precede the action of Part 1. And that's just the beginning of the odd sequencing tricks. More than once, a character misses or refuses a phone call that, according to the film's inverted logic, may come from the past or the future. Manchevski has a sensitive eye for his fellow Macedonians, and Before the Rain sketches a number of interesting characters. Protagonist Aleksander cares deeply about his old girlfriend Hana and risks his life for her daughter -- who is possibly also his daughter. But he behaves very ignobly toward his London girlfriend Anne, dropping in for fast sex and ditching her when she mentions her desire for a family. Aleksander is a foreigner in London, but his outside experiences make him a foreigner in his own land. He ends up committed to a moral position that he knows his own relatives will never accept. One can rape or murder "the enemy" with impunity, but trying to save a frightened girl jeopardizes the guilty status quo. Pride, honor and national identity distill into a general pigheadedness. The tribe becomes brutal for fear of appearing weak. Photographer Aleksander specializes in war reportage, the film's least original idea. His ambivalence toward his work -- which wins him awards but does little more than market atrocities to curious readers -- belongs in something like 1983's Under Fire. Manchevski also quotes a scene in Volker Schlöndorff's Circle of Deceit, when Aleksander talks of a Christian militiaman executing a prisoner, just to give him a photo opportunity. Manchevski also plays the movie quote game, albeit far better than most. When the young couple flees the monastery we know they'll be at risk from bands of killers on both sides. It's not unlike John Huston's A Walk With Love and Death, where two young lovers are set adrift amid the horrors of the Hundred Years' War. Manchevski underscores his theme of cyclic violence with animal imagery suggested by Buñuel, Clouzot and Sam Peckinpah. A pea-brained young militiaman shoots his machine gun indiscriminately, and then uses it to blow a housecat to pieces. A clutch of callous children torture and roast turtles in a circle of fire, referencing the "circle that is never round" but also Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. In England, another unlucky turtle waits in a restaurant aquarium to be eaten. That English episode is the most problematic. Manchevski's three chapter titles relate words, faces and pictures to acts of violence, and he interrupts the awkward domestic squabble in the restaurant with another Peckinpah-like massacre. The restaurant owner, an Irishman, is offended when Nick associates terrorism with Ulster, but the Macedonian conflict spills over into a senseless killing spree here as well. The scene is more than a little forced, but it's certainly a jolting surprise. Manchevsky is more successful on his home turf, where he shows his countrymen lovingly giving birth to new lambs, and then contemplating raping a Muslim girl on general principles. A mailman whistles the theme from Butch Cassidy while riding his bicycle, and then segues into The Internationale. The rude lady in the rural post office has no intention of dealing with a phone caller who cannot speak her language. All seem oblivious or uncaring about the fact that their beautiful valley is ready to explode with internecine conflict. This is war not with armies but on a neighborhood and family level. The film expresses the pain, misery and hopelessness of it all, and makes any peaceful solution seem like a miracle. Criterion's DVD of Before the Rain presents this stunningly beautiful film in a glowing enhanced transfer. The director appears on a commentary with film scholar Annette Insdorf, to explain some of the more puzzling aspects of the film and to tell the story of its production. Interesting actor Rade Serbedzija tells his story in a new interview, and we see coverage of the filming in a 1993 TV documentary. Raw behind the scenes footage has apparently been recovered from an old Electronic Press Kit. The extras go into even more detail, with soundtrack-only excerpts highlighting the Macedonian band Anastasia, a gallery of the director's photographs, his music video Tennessee and more galleries of stills, storyboards and letters. Ian Christie contributes a concise liner note essay for the insert booklet. Criterion's disc producer is Debra McClutchy. For more information about Before the Rain, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Before the Rain, go to TCM Shopping by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Aluminum Horse Award for best first film at the 1994 Stockholm International Film Festival.

Released in United States Winter February 24, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 10, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 17, 1995

Released in United States on Video August 29, 1995

Released in United States September 1994

Released in United States November 1994

Released in United States 1995

Released in United States January 1995

Released in United States October 1995

Shown at Venice Film Festival (in competition) September 1-12, 1994.

Shown at British Film Festival in Dinard, France September 22-25, 1994.

Shown at Stockholm International Film Festival (in competition) November 11-20, 1994.

Shown at Cleveland International Film Festival March 30 - April 9, 1995.

Shown at Portland International Film Festival February 17 - March 5, 1995.

Shown at Kiev International Film Festival (Molodist) in Prague, October 21-29, 1995.

Feature directorial debut for Macedonian-born commercial director Milcho Manchevski who studied film at Southern Illinois University.

Completed shooting Fall 1993.

The first feature made in the newly declared republic of Macedonia, part of the former Yugoslavia.

Released in United States Winter February 24, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 10, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 17, 1995

Released in United States on Video August 29, 1995

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at Venice Film Festival (in competition) September 1-12, 1994.)

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at British Film Festival in Dinard, France September 22-25, 1994.)

Released in United States November 1994 (Shown at Stockholm International Film Festival (in competition) November 11-20, 1994.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at Cleveland International Film Festival March 30 - April 9, 1995.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at Portland International Film Festival February 17 - March 5, 1995.)

Released in United States January 1995 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres) in Park City, Utah January 19-29, 1995.)

Released in United States October 1995 (Shown at Kiev International Film Festival (Molodist) in Prague, October 21-29, 1995.)

Co-winner, along with Tsai Ming-liang's "Aiquing Wansui, Vive L'Amour" (Taiwan/1994), of the Gold Lion award for best picture at the 1994 Venice Film Festival.