The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 27-June 2

05/27/2015 7:02 AM |

leptirica

Leptirica (1973)
Directed by Djordje Kadijevic
Nearly two decades prior to Bram Stoker’s Dracula came the publication of Yugoslavian author Milovan Glisic’s vampire story “After Ninety Years,” adapted from local folklore. Kadijevic (who was born in what is now Croatia) in turn adapted Glisic’s tale for this hourlong made-for-television film whose public screenings have been seldom since its initial broadcast. Leptirica (“She-Butterfly”) is known today as Serbia’s first horror film. It takes place in a small village whose watermill is haunted by an ominous long-toothed assailant of any man that dares enter. The residents select the intrepid young peasant Strahinja (played by Petar Bozovic) to make his bravest watch as they search for the vampire’s resting place. Strahinja also steals time with the field-wandering Radojka (Mirjana Nikolic), a beautiful young woman whose jealous guardian forbids her from giving herself to menial suitors. The film reveals such repression as taking a terrible toll on the town by eventually showing the ways that the young woman has found to exercise her freedom. “She’s as beautiful as a butterfly,” a villager says early on about Radojka, and his words turn out to be frighteningly true. Aaron Cutler (May 29, 10pm at the Spectacle)