Black Cat, White Cat

Black Cat, White Cat
Black Cat, White Cat

DVD cover
Directed by Emir Kusturica
Produced by Karl Baumgartner
Maksa Ćatović
Written by Emir Kusturica
Gordan Mihić
Starring Bajram Severdžan
Srđan Todorović
Florijan Ajdini
Branka Katić
Music by Nele Karajlić
Voja Aralica
Dejo Sparavalo
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Editing by Svetolik Zajc
Distributed by Focus Features (U.S.)
Arthaus Filmverleih (Germany)
Release date(s) September 10, 1998
Running time 135 min.
Country France
FR Yugoslavia
Language Romani

Black Cat, White Cat (Serbian: Црна мачка, бели мачор; Crna mačka, beli mačor) is a 1998 Yugoslav romantic comedy film directed by Emir Kusturica. It won the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the Venice Film Festival.

The literal translation of the title is actually "Black cat, white tomcat". The movie characters speak in Romani, Serbian, and Bulgarian - frequently switching among them.



Matko Destanov, a small-time Roma smuggler and profiteer, is living with his teenage son Zare in a ramshackle house by the Danube River in eastern Serbia near the Bulgarian border.

He has plans to acquire a whole train of smuggled fuel, which he finds at cut-price. To obtain a loan that would subsidize the heist, he visits Grga Pitić, a wheelchair-using old gangster, who's an old friend of Zarije Destanov, Matko's father and Zare's grandfather. Matko then plots the details of the job with an ally of his named Dadan, a rich, fun-living, drug-snorting gangster type who has a harem, juggles grenades and cheats at gambling. However, Dadan double-crosses him and glitches up the deal by giving Matko a drink that is drugged, and carrying out the job while Matko is unconscious, which means that Matko owes Dadan a great deal of cash. Matko cannot afford to pay, so Dadan makes a deal whereby he would forgive the debt, thereby wiping the slate clean, if Zare and Afrodita, Dadan's midget sister whom he desperately wants to marry off, get married. However, Zare is in love with Ida, a barmaid who works in an establishment run by her Roma grandmother Sujka, and Afrodita is waiting for the man of her dreams. Dadan coerces Afrodita into marrying by dunking her in a well, while Zare first learns of the scheme to marry him off from Ida, who has overheard Dadan and Matko plotting it in the restaurant where she works. Meanwhile, Zare retrieves Zarije from the hospital where he is being kept, with the aid of a gypsy band. Grga Pitić is having problems of his own, as he wants his grandsons, including six-foot plus giant Grga Veliki, to get married.

The two reluctantly endure the wedding ceremony held at Matko's house, which Dadan refuses to postpone after the sudden apparent death of Zarije. They were not supposed to have a wedding while in mourning, but Dadan decides to delay the death announcement, so Matko and Zare hide Zarije's body in the attic, packed in ice. Zare is dismayed, since he wants to leave the place, and had hoped that the required mourning period for his beloved grandfather would give him the opportunity to get away, and thus avoid being married off against his will. Ida and Sujka provide the catering for the wedding, and Ida is upset at seeing her beloved married off to someone else. By contrast, Dadan is really enjoying himself, whether dancing to gypsy band music, bouncing on the bed with his harem, and juggling grenades. However, the bride runs away mid-ceremony, pursued by Dadan, Matko and Dadan's criminal cronies. Meanwhile, Grga Veliki is driving his father and brother to Matko's house so that they may visit Zarije's grave (Grga Pitić and Zarije are old friends). The fleeing bride then stumbles across Grga Veliki, and he stops the truck when he sees her crossing the road; he is willing to protect her from her villainous brother, and the couple fall instantly in love. Grga Pitić arrives on the scene, after his wheelchair had fallen out the back of the truck and rolled downhill, and he is delighted that Grga Veliki has found his mate. The old gangster forces Dadan, who had once worked for him, to accept the match.

The groom meanwhile conspires with Sujka and Ida to bring Dadan down a peg, and rigs the outhouse so that the seat will come apart. While the preparations for the wedding ceremony of Afrodita and Grga Veliki are being conducted, Matko and Dadan pass the time by playing dice, with Dadan cheating. Sujka comes in during the game, and serves the unsuspecting Dadan a drink spiked with something that would give him diarrhea. Furthermore, Grga Pitić apparently dies, and Dadan and Matko hide his body in the attic, where Zarije's body is also hidden. However, the two corpses soon both come back to life; they were not dead after all. They are surprised to find themselves together, as they had not seen each other for 25 years and each had thought the other was dead. During the ceremony, Dadan starts to feel uncomfortable and rushes into the outhouse ... and falls into the manure. His harem and cronies desert him, and as he tries to clean himself off on a goose, only Matko remains loyal, and he provides Dadan with a shower from the garden hose. Zare meanwhile grabs the wedding official at gunpoint and orders him to solemnize his marriage with his sweetheart, Ida, and the two sail off together on a riverboat set for Bulgaria with a fistful of cash stashed in his grandfather's accordion, the blessing of their respective grandparents and, as witnesses, a black cat and a white cat.


  • Bajram Severdžan as Matko Destanov
  • Srđan Todorović as Dadan Karambolo
  • Branka Katić as Ida
  • Florijan Ajdini as Zare Destanov
  • Ljubica Adžović as Sujka
  • Zabit Memedov as Zarije Destanov
  • Sabri Sulejmani as Grga Pitić
  • Jasar Destani as Grga Veliki
  • Salija Ibraimova as Afrodita

Recurring images

There are many recurring gags throughout the film, for example a scene where a pig is devouring an old run-down Trabant, and the appearance of the titular two cats (a black one and a white one), who end up as the only witnesses to Zare and Ida's wedding. Also, Grga Pitić is obsessed with the last line in the film Casablanca, "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," which he says to Zarije at the end, looking at Matko washing Dadan.


Some of the film's plot points and scenery are strongly inspired by an influential Italian comics series, Alan Ford by Roberto Raviola and Luciano Secchi[citation needed]. In one scene one of Dadan's criminal cronies can be seen reading an issue of Alan Ford's Yugoslav edition.


Original Soundtrack From The Film 'Black Cat White Cat'
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 1998 (CD)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 55:50
Label Barclay
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

Music has an important place in this picture, as it is present in almost every scene. Zarije is especially devoted to music as he's seen with the local band playing specially for him on the way from hospital and then at the fair near the lake.

Track listing
  1. "Bubamara Main Version" – 3:57
  2. "Duj Sandale" – 2:49
  3. "Railway Station" – 2:33
  4. "Jek di Tharin II" – 3:55
  5. "Daddy, Don't Ever Die on a Friday" – 3:18
  6. "Bubamara" – 2:36
  7. "Daddy's Gone" – 1:07
  8. "Long Vehicle" – 6:01
  9. "Pit Bull Mixed by Pink Evolution" – 3:40
  10. "El Bubamara Pasa" – 3:20
  11. "Ja Volim Te Jos/Meine Stadt" – 3:14
  12. "Bubamara Tree Stump" – 0:33
  13. "Jekdi Tharin" – 2:42
  14. "Lies" – 0:30
  15. "Hunting" – 1:01
  16. "Dejo Dance" – 1:01
  17. "Bulgarian Dance" – 1:25
  18. "Bubamara Sunflower" – 3:10
  19. "Black Cat White Cat" – 8:52

Other songs from the film, not included in the original soundtrack album:

  1. "Where Do You Go" - Performed by No Mercy (Scene at Dadan's house)
  2. "Nowhere Fast" - Performed by Fire Inc. (Ida is seen dancing to music video of this song)
  3. "Money, Money, Money" (ABBA) - Covered by Dadan
  4. "Ne dolazi" - Covered by Matko
  5. "Dunaveki vali" - Performed by music box
  6. "Lubenica" - Covered by Dadan
  7. "Jek Ditharin" - Performed by Braca Lavaci
  8. "Von cerena todikano svato" - Performed by Ljubica Adzovic
  9. "An der schönen blauen Donau" - Performed by the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Vojislav Aralica – guitar, keyboards
  • Saban Bajramovic – vocals
  • Rade Kosmajac – keyboards
  • Zoran Milosevic – accordion
  • Bokan Stankovic – trumpet

External links

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