top of page
  • Writer's pictureBalkan Art Scene

The Marathon Family — What does this masterpiece talk about?

The Marathon Family is probably the most famous achievement of Serbian cinematography. Our most ingenious playwright of the modern age, Dusan Kovacevic, wrote this work in his twenty-fourth year, while he was still a student.

Ten years later, his drama was screened, thus an amateur theater play made its way into a film that many generations know almost by heart.

The play was initially conceived as a serious critique of society through tragedy, but to Kovacevic's surprise, the audience accepted the play as exceptionally witty, probably not understanding its true meaning.

As numerous social themes are presented in the work, comical quotes and dialogues from the are retold daily, even today. We can say that the quotes have become a kind of modern proverbs.

We all know the plot, but we are not aware of its minority in relation to the significantly deeper layer of hidden narration.

It is believed that Kovacevic was encouraged to write the play by the cancellation of the scholarship for his studies, for reasons unknown to him. Fearing for the financial certainty of continuing his education, he dealt with the then government, which he presented in his work as a funeral company.

After Pantelija's death, through whose character Tito himself was represented, the company (state) disintegrated so that the heirs tried to divide the property. Pantelija, in fact, left them nothing. In this way, Kovacevic predicted the unsustainability of the Yugoslav state union twenty years earlier.

The gravediggers are in power, burying talents, skills, youth and everything that is worthwhile in the country. With their corruption, incompetence, greed, they drive their opponents from the ground or into the ground in order to gain more power.

The Topalovic family are gravediggers of all generations

The way in which Kovacevic presented death in his work is interesting. Almost every character that appears dies / suffers, except the Topalovic family. They live long, even over one hundred and fifty years, and no one can stop them.

At the end of the film, they remain alive with the expressed intention to commit another misdeed. It is clear what Kovacevic wanted to show with this - such people do not die, they are invincible.

The entire message of the drama missed the sharp censorship of Yugoslav cinematography. However, they delayed the screening of this film for a long time, probably doubting that the whole work must be an allegory. But in the end, they dropped only some less important scenes (erotic), which did not change the meaning of the work.

Dusan Kovacevic hid his message very well, by placing it in the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (with an insert from the Marseille assassination at the beginning), which smeared the eyes of the censors.

Dusan Kovacevic's genius is reflected in the fact that he managed to make the whole nation laugh, while at the same time he sharply criticized the government. This tragicomedy, now 40 years old, is just as funny and sorrowful at the same time today, because its themes are as timeless as the situation in the Balkans.

Recent Posts

See All

Balkan Art Scene // Publications VOLUME 1

Volume 1 ISSUE 1 2022/2023 As Balkan Art Scene approaches a different era, it is an honour for me to share with you several issues of Volume 1 of Balkan Art Scene digital publication. This is the firs


bottom of page