Written by: Olivera Tolimir
Are you ready for a ride through Serbian evergreen movies?
Prepare popcorn and a soda! We’re taking you to a cinema!
Well, maybe not a cinema. Learning Serbian best movies is about oldies but goldies. So, their cinema days are behind them. Their image quality might not be the best, but the artistic quality is absolute!
Serbians still use many of these quotes in everyday life.
When a movie catchphrase gets a life of its own, it becomes a part of the culture. As you know, learning Serbian isn’t just about the language. It’s about the culture, too!
We prepared a selection of our six favorite Serbian movie quotes. We don’t dare say they’re the best or the most popular because not even ten blog posts would be enough to cover them all!
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy learning Serbian films as much as we did making this list!
-Đura će ti oprostiti što te je tukao.
Balkanski špijun (Balkan Spy)
Can you imagine hearing Djura will forgive you for beating you? That’s what this sentence means.
Balkan Spy is a 1984 (oh, the symbolism!) comedy by Dusan Kovacevic, one of the best Serbian contemporary writers. He was also the movie’s director, along with Bozidar Nikolic.
Here’s one quick note: reading Dusan Kovacevic’s plays is a great way of learning Serbian!
The movie tells a story about a former political prisoner Ilija Cvorovic. He starts paranoically thinking that his new tenant Petar is a spy and a threat to the Yugoslav socialist regimen. So, he goes to great lengths to bring him to justice. Ilija’s brother Djura even beats up Petar, after which Ilija tells Petar that Djura will forgive him for beating him.
The nonsense of it is hilarious. Including sentences like this in your process of learning Serbian is a great way to sound like a native. Learning Serbian seemingly pointless catchphrases is perfect if you want to practice sounding natural.
Not-so-nice people use this sentence when they’ve done something wrong and don’t plan on showing any remorse. Moreover, they use it to make fun of a person they’ve upset!
–Samo tetki da odnesem lek!
Balkan ekspres (Balkan Express)
Here’s another movie with the word Balkan in it!
Balkan Express is a 1983 movie by director Branko Baletic.
It’s a story about a group of petty criminals trying to survive and earn some money in 1941 Serbia by pretending to be a musical band.
The line Samo tetki da odnesem lek means I’ll just get medicine for my aunt!
It’s a ridiculous excuse one of the protagonists babbles when a German occupant asks him if he’s a musician. He first denies, then confirms, then denies again, and at the end, says he just needs to get medicine to his aunt. It doesn’t work so well for him, though.
This phrase has become a synonym for a lie we use to get out of something – whether it be an activity or answering a personal question. Everyone knows the reference, so there’s a good chance they’ll burst out laughing and stop bothering you!
If you’re choosing one movie quote to practice learning Serbian, we recommend this one! You won’t find constructions like this in your textbook and they’re very natural.
-Ko je vas poznavao, ni pakao mu neće teško pasti.
Maratonci trče počasni krug (The Marathon Family)
Maratonci is a 1982 black comedy film written by Dusan Kovacevic and directed by Slobodan Sijan.
It tells a story about the Topalovic family which consists of six generations of coffin-makers who, in reality, work with a local criminal to dig up and reuse coffins, therefore turning a huge profit.
The sentence Ko je vas poznavao, ni pakao mu nece tesko pasti means Those who knew you wouldn’t have a hard time in Hell.
The oldest Topalovic addressed this sentence from his will to his children. He also said he wished they were children of one of his enemies instead of his. The cherry on top is that he left all his fortune to – himself.
This quote is used when we want to tell someone they’re extremely difficult or bad. But we usually use it jokingly. Learning Serbian type of humor is necessary when talking about bonding with your Serbian friends! Don’t get insulted if you hear this catchphrase – it’s all out of love!
P. S. The Topalovic family is a metaphor for the country and politicians that heavily disappointed the writer Dusan Kovacevic in his youth. You see, learning Serbian movie quotes usually comes with an additional fun fact!
Ko to tamo peva? (Who’s Singin’ Over There?)
Who’s Singing Over There is another dark comedy written by Dusan Kovacevic and directed by Slobodan Sijan. It came out in 1980.
It’s a story about a group of passengers traveling from the province to Belgrade in 1941, days before the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia in WW2.
The phrase Vozi, Miško means simply Drive, Misko!
Misko is a young bus driver whose father (the bus owner) repeatedly tells him to continue driving after each incident the group goes through. At one point, he even brags about his son driving two kilometers with his eyes shut.
Probably every Serbian at least once told to a driver Vozi, Misko! Even though their name wasn’t Misko. Often, it’s not even driving related. We use it for encouraging someone’s action or behaviour.
Apart from learning Serbian language, understanding this type of referential humor is necessary to bond with your Serbian friends and family!
-Deco, je l’ volite brzu vožnju?
Mi nismo anđeli (We Are Not Angels)
We Are Not Angels is a 1992 comedy film directed by Srdjan Dragojevic.
It’s interesting for its idea of an angel and devil fighting to prevail in the decisions of a young literature student Nikola.
Nikola is a womanizer who once got so drunk that he forgot to have spent the night with a not-so-attractive girl who happened to stay pregnant. So, now, angel and devil are whispering in his ear what to do!
Deco, je l’ volite brzu vožnju means Kids, do you like a fast ride?
It’s a sentence the devil asks and then starts maniacally laughing while getting in a driver’s seat in a bus full of kids. So, the children start screaming.
Contrary to the Vozi, Misko, this catchphrase is used by drivers, and it’s addressed to passengers. It can be a great answer to a Vozi, Misko if you’re in a car with a bunch of your friends and you’re a designated driver!
Of course, don’t actually drive faster than allowed.
–Nikada oni mene ne mogu toliko malo da plate koliko ja mogu malo da radim!
Jagode u grlu (literally: The Strawberries in the Throat)
The Strawberries in the Throat is a 1985 movie sequel to a popular TV show The Unpicked Strawberries. Srdjan Karanovic is the movie’s director.
The movie tells a story about a group of friends gathered together 15 years after high school.
The sentence means They can never pay me as little as I can slack off!
It’s about the fact that people aren’t worried about their small income since they don’t work at all at their workplace.
Many people in the Yugoslav era lived this sentence, but it’s not so relatable in 2023!
Learning Serbian culture is about learning Yugoslav one, too! We need to understand our history first.
Learning Serbian with Popcorn 101
Have you seen any of the movies we mentioned today?
Do you like Serbian humor, or do you find it strange?
If you’d like to learn more about Serbian movies, book an individual Serbian class with one of our great teachers!