Underground (1995)

Brief Intro

Underground is a captivating film directed by Emir Kusturica. This multi-layered story, set against the backdrop of Yugoslavia’s tumultuous history, blends dark humor, political allegory, and rich symbolism. The film’s unique narrative style and complex characters make it a treasure trove for literary analysis.

Literary Devices Used in Underground


Movie SceneDevice Example
The hidden underground shelter scenesRepresents the hidden truths and realities of war.
The animals in the zoo escaping during the bombingSymbolizes the chaos and loss of control during the conflict.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The opening scene with the brass band playing amidst chaosSymbolizes the resilience and spirit of the people despite turmoil.
The hidden tunnel used by the protagonistsRepresents the unseen struggles and hidden aspects of life under oppression.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Characters celebrating a victory that never happenedHighlights the absurdity and futility of war.
Marko’s betrayal of his friends while pretending to be a heroUnderscores the deceit and moral ambiguity in wartime.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The entire underground worldRepresents the hidden aspects of society and the subconscious.
The love triangle amidst the warServes as a microcosm of the larger political betrayals and alliances.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Early scenes of political unrestHint at the eventual outbreak of war.
Marko’s manipulative behaviorSuggests his future betrayals and moral decline.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of normal life juxtaposed with war scenesHighlights the stark contrast between peace and conflict.
Moments of dark humor amidst tragedyEmphasizes the absurdity of the human condition in war.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The portrayal of political figuresCritiques the incompetence and corruption of leadership.
Exaggerated heroism and patriotismMocks the glorification of war and nationalism.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Marko reminiscing about his pastProvides context and depth to his character’s motivations.
Characters recalling pre-war timesContrasts the past peace with the present chaos.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Over-the-top celebratory scenesExaggerates the absurdity of celebrating amidst suffering.
Characters’ dramatic reactions to minor eventsEmphasizes the heightened emotions and tensions of war.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The city itself as a living entity enduring warRepresents the collective experience of the inhabitants.
The underground shelter as a protective, yet imprisoning entitySymbolizes both safety and confinement during conflict.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies


IronyMarko’s outward heroism versus his deceitful actions.
SymbolismHis manipulation of the underground world reflects his control over hidden truths.


AllegoryRepresents the common man’s struggle and resistance.
JuxtapositionHis fierce patriotism against the backdrop of his personal flaws.


SatireHer role as a love interest amidst political chaos.
SymbolismHer shifting loyalties symbolize the instability of wartime alliances.

Character Dynamics

Marko and BlackyTheir friendship and betrayal drive the narrative and reflect larger political themes.
Blacky and NatalijaTheir tumultuous relationship highlights personal and political conflicts.

Thematic Analysis

War and Conflict

SymbolismThe underground bunker symbolizes hidden truths of war.
IronyCelebrating false victories to underscore the absurdity of war.

Betrayal and Deceit

AllegoryMarko’s betrayal as a reflection of political deceit.
FlashbackRevisiting past events to reveal hidden betrayals.

Survival and Resistance

MetaphorThe underground as a metaphor for survival.
JuxtapositionContrasting scenes of resistance and normal life to highlight the resilience of the human spirit.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismUse of lighting and shadowsHighlights the hidden aspects of the characters’ lives.
IronyContrasting music choicesEmphasizes the absurdity of certain scenes.

Key Scene Analysis

Key Scene 1: The Wedding Party

YouTube Link: The Wedding Party Scene
Breakdown: This scene uses irony and symbolism to highlight the contrast between celebration and the looming war.

Key Scene 2: The Zoo Escape

YouTube Link: Zoo Escape Scene
Breakdown: Symbolizes the chaos of war and the loss of control over the natural order.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What does the underground bunker symbolize in the film?
    • A) Hidden truths
    • B) Wealth
    • C) Freedom
    • D) Power
  2. Which literary device is used when the characters celebrate false victories?
  3. How does Marko’s character symbolize political deceit?
    • A) Through his bravery
    • B) Through his manipulation
    • C) Through his loyalty
    • D) Through his honesty
  4. Which theme is highlighted by the relationship between Blacky and Natalija?
    • A) Love
    • B) War
    • C) Betrayal
    • D) Freedom
  5. What does the zoo escape scene symbolize?
    • A) Victory
    • B) Chaos and loss of control
    • C) Peace
    • D) Wealth