The late Serbian actor, Bata Zivojinovic, was and still is widely popular and well know on the Balkans. However, this actor was and still is popular all the way in China. Here is his story.
When Bata passed away, the news of his death wasn’t a headline only on the Balkans but in China as well. There, you can’t imagine a new year movie marathon without Bata’s famous movie “Walter Defends Sarajevo”
Back in 1972 when it was first played, this movie became a huge hit. It had great critics at the time in the ex-Yugoslavia but believe it or not, it was an even more unbelievable success in Chinese box offices. After the first premier there, the whole of China became the land of fans of Bata Zivojinovic’s character, Walter.
The whole story of a people’s hero fighting against the evil in the name of all good and justice was actually based on a real-life war hero Vladimir Peric. And, thanks to the movie “Walter Defends Sarajevo” the legend of the real war hero lived on and billions of people around the world got a chance to get familiar with what he did, both on the big and small screens.
Now, it wasn’t until 1977 when this movie was first aired in China. But even though they were late to the party, people of China accepted it better than in any other part of the world, even Yugoslavia. And, they compared it to then-popular Hollywood action blockbusters.
“The movie Walter defends Sarajevo is like the James Bond movies”, said the famous drama and art director of the Shanghai center of theater art, Nick Ju Rongun.
This legendary movie even had a Chinese theater remake and to make it more convincing, the theater hired a Bosnian director, Haris Pastrovic.
Back then, in an interview for China Daily, Pastrovic said “People from Sarajevo find this movie to be something that is close to them. And, Bosnians are very proud that it is such a hit here in China. It is amazing that a movie from such a small country became so popular in a great Country like China.”
Pastrovic also said that this movie is somewhat universal and that it will be an evergreen masterpiece. To a certain extent, this movie can even be implied for today’s times as well.
It even got a TV show remake, though it was translated into Chinese and added into the already existing war/spy TV show “By the gun” back in 2011. And, it is really amazing how “Walter” even got his own beer in China, and not in one of the ex-Yugoslavian countries.
Furthermore, some lines from the movie became an everyday part of the lives of people in China! For example, “The air is shivering like the sky is on fire, the storm is coming!” is like a cultural status, if not with the younger generations, then with the older for sure.
Also, China Daily once wrote, “People in China that are over 50 years of age know all the lines from this movie by heart.” That is how famous “Walter” and Bata Zivojinovic were in China and most like are still popular with the Chinese elders.