Emir Kusturica's debut feature, Do You Remember Dolly Bell? is a one-of-a-kind coming of age tale, telling the story of Dino, a young boy living in Sarajevo in the mid -1960s. With the government beginning to support the rights of the individual, many citizens simply don't know how to handle their new found freedom, with Dino and many of the younger generation becoming enthralled with various aspects of Western culture, including music, movies, and clothing. Getting a taste of the criminal world of his neighborhood, Dino helps the local pimp by hiding a prostitute "Dolly Bell", with his world being turned upside down when he begins to fall in love with her. While it doesn't have the same magic realism that Emir Kusturica would become known for, Do You Remember Dolly Bell a noteworthy debut feature for its ability to encapsulate the comedy and tragedy of life itself, following a young man in Dino is is forced to grow up in a world that is constantly evolving all around him. Do You Remember Dolly Bell feels semi-autobiographical in approach, giving extensive details, often comedically, into the adjustment a country and a people go through when trying to adjust to their newfound individuality and independence. One example of this are the dinner table sequences, with Dino's father treating dinner table conversations more like a structured UN meeting than a family gathering, making sure ever detail is covered, as he tries to adjust to respecting each individual in his family, not just the overall family unit. Dino's sexual awakening combined with his father's increasing illness run parallel to the country's newfound individualism, as Kusturica captures a young boy's rise to manhood. The aesthetic of Do You Remember Dolly Bell isn't particularly appealing, featuring dark and grimy look that visually captures the bleakness of the world around these characters. Through all the tragic aspects of Dino's life - the loss of his father, the local criminals, and poorish conditions he grew up on, Sarajevo has a lot of bleakness all around it, but Kusturica's film triumphantly encourages the viewer to find the comedy in life's tragedy, imploring the individual to focus on making oneself better every day.
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