4 Years in 10 Minutes
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
Little artistic gestures can sometime create full-blown works, such as in the case of filmmaker Mladen Kovačević editing of Dragan Jaćimović’s rushes of his expedition to Mount Everest, together with an accurate selection from his 200 pages-long journal of the journey. Jaćimović was the first Serbian person to reach the summit of the tallest mountain of the world, but we should actually say “the first Yugoslavian person”, for on the 26th May 2000 he was a citizen of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia lead by a certain Slobodan Milošević. Therefore, Jaćimović’s expedition – largely supported by agencies bound to the government – was an alpinist achievement but also a masterpiece of the ephemeral at the same time, as the social and political glory that was assigned to this expedition has quickly sunk into the uncomfortable side of history. From Yugoslavian history to Jaćimović’s story and all the way up to Kovačević’s filmic tale, 4 Years in 10 Minutes is a brilliant synthesis of several fictional layers, all bound together, and also bound to the true reality of an epic ascent.
In this, Kovačević is able to stress Jaćimović’s original vision of the expedition, which is focused on the mountain in its nakedness as well as on the human details of the journey, without any heroic rhetoric. Yet, on the summit, alone and in a confused mental state (as he ran out of oxygen), we bear witness to his agitated joy and the clumsy exhibition of the sponsors’ flags. This long and unforgettable filmic sequence summarises the intense folly and deep ephemerality of glory. All that will follow from this dramatic moment is, for Jaćimović, nothing but puzzlement, lack of motivation, rambling. The precise line of Kovačević’s editing, which is supported by an incisive sound editing, makes 4 Years in 10 Minutes an intelligent meditation on the idea of achievement and glory, and the “character” of Jaćimović, in his delusions and deceptions, becomes the unwitting emblem of the collapse of heroism, which cannot avoid social and national illusions.