One of the most meaningful films about and against war.

The movie Three  (Tri)  is anti-war.  It depicts war’s utter bestiality, waste and absurdity. Death  is  the indisputable protagonist. She  takes  three different appearences, as punishment, as victim and as the expression of the senselesseness of war.

You  must  be  against  war,  but  really, fully,  against  all  the  actors  of  the  war. And  against  those  who  create  reasons for war.
Aleksandar Petrović

Production company: Avala film, Beograd 1965
Sceenplay: Antonije Isaković, Aleksandar Petrović
Director: Aleksandar Petrović
Set Design: Vladislav Lašić, Nikola Rajić
Cinematography: Tomislav Pinter
Art Director: Nikola Rajić
Producer: Vladislav Lašić
Film Editing: Mirjana Mitić
Music: “Ðelem, Ðelem“ (Mihajlo Lakatoš)(mp3)
Choice of music:  Aleksandar Petrović
Cast:  Velimir Bata Živojinović, Ali Raner, Senka Veletanlić-Petrović, Voja Mirić, Slobodan Perović, Mića Tomić, Branislav Jerinić, Gizela Vuković


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Three was filmed in the arid Dinaric Alps and in the interminable swamps of  the delta of  the Neretva River near  the Adriatic sea.  In  this  film, even the locations become an expression of Man’s Destiny.

Three  is  one  the most  significant movies  about  war  and against war.

Plot Summary:

In three episodes, the film narrates the war in Yugoslavia from 1941 to 1944. Milos, a partisan, is the hero. He is confronted to death three times. “The entire film is one man’s outlook on war and his witnessing death through the lens of war.”

Velimir Bata Živojinović



The  first part narrates  the death of a Serb killed in error and with no trial by soldiers of his own country.
April  1941:  a  train  station  in  provincial Serbia during a flash attack by the German army. People wait… maybe a train will lead them  somewhere,  but  where  –  nobody knows. Panic  takes  over  like  a  psychosis. Time  passes,  no  train.  Fear  leads  to desperation.  People  start  to  look.  A regiment  of  the  Royal  Yugoslav  Army attempts  to  calm  down  the  crowd.  A stranger  is  accused  of  belonging  to  the “Fifth  Column.”  This  innocent man  will  be shot with  no  trail. Milos  can  do  nothing  to save him.
This is the first absurd and bestial death.




Surrounded  by  SS,  Milos  finds  munitions. He  is  cold,  hungry,  and  alone.  In  an abandoned  cemetery,  he  meets  another partisan, fearful, temporarily abandoned by his unit because of his  injuries. The chase starts. The partisans separate: the first one to be captured will possibly save the other’s life.  The  Germans  capture  the  other partisan, but he dies a hero.  In  refusing  to turn his back to the line of shooters, the SS lock him  in a cabin and burn him  to death under Milos’ desperate cries.
Second cruel and bestial death.



tri treca pricaAutumn 1944:  the end of  the war. A group of “collaborators” is brought in the yard of a village  house  that  was  transformed  into  a field  commanding  office  by  Milos’s  group. Amongst  them  is  a  young  woman.  Milos notices  her.  They  exchange  looks.  Milos must be the one to condemn her. He would like to believe in her innocence but the facts are  irrefutable  –  she was  the mistress of a German commander. While  they are  in  the yard,  the  prisoners  waiting  for  destiny  to decide  itself,  Milos  begins  to  question: should we forgive or punish?
All will  be  gunned  down. Milos  knows  that the war  is done. He goes out  into  the yard to  watch  the  passing  of  carts  which  are announcing the merry news.
Third tragic, and maybe most absurd death since the war is over.


“…I  wanted  to  tell  the  story  through  a  protagonist  who  observes passively. Or  rather,  three  stories  of  his  life  he  was  directly  linked  to, without ever intervening.” – Aleksandar Petrovic

 Awards, honors, festivals:

  • Academy  Awards  Nomination  for  Best  Foreign Language Film-  1966 (39th edition)
  • XIIth  Pula Film Festival (Yugoslavia), 1965: GRAND PRIX (Golden Arena) for Best Film,
  • XIIth Pula Film Festival (Yugoslavia), 1965: GRAND PRIX (Golden Arena) for Best Director
  • XIIth Pula Film Festival (Yugoslavia), 1965: GRAND PRIX (Golden Arena) for Best Actor
  • XIIth Pula Film Festival  (Yugoslavia), 1965: Critics’ Award “Milton Manaki”
  • Bronze Plaque  (Bronzana Plaketa) – BUNINOVA  VRATA, Yugoslav award, 1965
  • IVth  Mostra  Internazionale  del  Cinema  Libero, Poretta Terme, 1966
  • XVth Karlovy  Vary  (Karlsbad)  International Festival,1966  GRAND  PRIX  for  Best  Film (HLAVNA CENA I)
  • IXth  Acapulco  Festival  of  Best  Movies,  1966  – Award “PALENKA”, Golden Inca Head
  • Festival  of  italian  neorealism  –  Avellino,  1966  – Award LACENO D’ORO
  • IVth Film Festival in New York, september 1966
  • Sorento Film Festival, Italy,1975
  • Human Rights Film Festival Chicago, 1980
  • Georges  Pompidou Center,  Paris,  Yougoslav Cinema, 1980.
  • Georges  Pompidou Center,  Paris,  Yougoslav Cinema, 1986.
  • IXth Istanbul International Film, programme Yugoslavian Films, 1990.
  • Documentaries  Film  Festival  of  Rennes,  (Programme special) November 1992.
  • In 1979, in a survey organized by the Yugoslav Film Institute  for The  Best  Film  in  the  history  of  the Yugoslav  Cinema,  the  Yugoslav  Film  Critics  and Artists  put  Three  in  second  place  behind  I  Even Met  Happy  Gypsies,  from  Aleksandar  Petrović, declared  the  Best  Film  in  the  History  of Yusgoslav Cinema.
  • Serbian Film Festival, Paris, Normandy, 2006.

Orcar nomination

Holywood 1966

Hollywood 1966

Three  was  the  first  Yugoslav  movie  released  in  the  United  States  (in 1966).
Aleksandar  Petrović’s  films  Three  and  I  Even  Met  Happy  Gypsies provided the world an introduction to Yugoslav cinema.

Press excerpts:

Daniel Goulding About Three, in his book ‘Liberated cinema’ (1965)

Aleksandar Petrovic - Hollywood

Three presented a concrete intimate psychological portrait of an ordinary partisan warrior caught in the matrix of confused and morally ambiguous events. The protagonist is not so much the author of his actions as he is carried along in the sweep and tide of historical events and concrete human dilemmas. His impulse is to intervene and to prevent three senseless and cruel deaths in the film. He ends by being a reluctant, helpless and despairing witness.
The simple events of the film are shot with remarkable economy and richness of visual detail. Metaphor is introduced naturally and unobtrusively. The herding and scattering of the gaggle of geese in the first episode is an effective metaphor for the herd-like behavior and panic of the assembled crowd on the train platform. The lone Gipsy and his bear, left behind to wander along the empty tracks, are exotic and poignant symbols of isolation and of the outcasts and vagabonds of war. The town fool symbolizes the insanity and scourge of war – and evokes, even in his madness, the fearful authority of an Old Testament prophet. The terrible exactions of guerrilla war fought against forbidding odds are perhaps never better captured than in the middle episode of the film. It echoes the framework established by official historians of the Partisan war, who divide it into seven major offensives in which superior enemy forces attempted to encircle and annihilate Tito’s main forces. Each time the ring was broken, and, after suffering terrible losses, the Partisan regrouped, grew in strength and fought again.
In the film, the metaphor of encirclement is evoked in miniature and in concrete human detail as the German patrol closes in on Milos and his comrade in the tall marsh grasses, and again when German patrol surrounds and riddles the burning hut with bullets. Harsh and relentless pursuit, complete mastery of the skies and superior armaments and numbers test the limits of human endurance and take their tragic toll – the cruel death of one Partisan and the agony and despair of the survivor. There are no false heroics, no set little speeches, no attempts to minimize or restrict the full range of human emotions and reactions to such brutal circumstances. In the final episode of the film, peaceful bucolic images of traditional Yugoslav rural life symbolize the return to normalcy and revitalization. These processes are disturbed, however, by the continuing reprisals of war – symbolized most poignantly by the harsh and perfunctory execution of the young woman.

Aleksandar petrovic - tri

A review from the New York Times from 1967 when it was nominated for Best foreign film at the Academy Awards

War’s utter bestiality and waste, usually illustrated by armies, is brought into sharp focus by a talented few in “Three,” a prize-winning Yugoslav drama that treats its bleak and harrowing subject with a grim but poetic artistry. It had a showing at the New York Film Festival last year, and is now at the Studio Cinema and 72d Street Theaters. The film is mystifyingly abrupt in its transitions, but its effects, physical and intellectual, are unmistakably forceful and chilling. The director, Aleksandar Petrovic, with the aid of a sparse script and stunning photography by Tomislav Pinter, has pointed up war’s ravages as it affects one partisan’s fights in one small sector of the conflict. In each of three events he is part of, needless death brought about by fear, despair and defeat.


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