Sunday, October 28, 2007

Palin's New Europe

The blog entry on Belgrade 2.0 (click here to read it) about Michael Palin's new travel series 'New Europe' reminded me of the first episode of the series, which I've been watching long before I began this blog. For those of you who don't know, Michael Palin has been travelling around the countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain. I've enjoyed the series a lot as it gives these countries some publicity in the UK and, I hope, breaks some of the stereotypes prevalent in the West about these former communist countries.

He covers all the countries in the region apart from Belarus and Montenegro, (but includes East Germany and Turkey - which was never behind the Iron Curtain in an ideological sense, geographically you could say so). When I first heard about the show I just couldn't wait to see it and when I found out the first episode would include the former Yugoslav countries, I could hardly contain my excitement.

Starting off in the Julian Alps for about 10 seconds he immediately ends up in Croatia. He visits Split, Dubrovnik and Hvar, it's all rather pleasant with him tasting food, drinking coffee in Dubrovnik and meeting a rather odd musician. Bosnia also gets a good look in - Sarajevo, Mostar and Medjugore. Of course, being a self-confessed 'serbophile' I was really waiting with baited breath to see how Serbia would come across in this, so far, fantastic travel show.

All we get to see of Serbia is Belgrade. Sure, that's not so bad I suppose, it's a start for Serbia to even have any sort of positive publicity in the UK. He speaks to Rambo, a slight crazy musician on a boat, floating along the Danube, with a brief view of some brown buildings in the background and he speaks to some pretty girls in a darkened restaurant. I would have at least liked some shots of Belgrade city centre or Kalemegdan park. It really disappointed me. It's all over in 5 minutes, while the rest of the show is devoted to Croatia, Bosnia and Albania. Perhaps equal treatment of the five countries would have been a bit more fair. Serbia needs all the good publicity it can get in the West in order to shake off the images of a war-loving, destroyed and unhappy society.

OK, perhaps I have no right to be so annoyed. He did at least visit Belgrade, and he did visit one of my favourite raft clubs - Exile - showing some trendy young Belgraders dancing in a club no different (if not better) than those in the UK. I just wish he had devoted more than five minutes to Serbia and had shown at least a bit of Belgrade, not just the river, which runs through this undervalued and under-estimated city. Perhaps Novi Sad would have been nice to visit too?

Hmm, at least Serbia got more of a mention than Macedonia. A five second shot of Palin standing by Lake Ohrid, then he's magically transported to the mountains of Bulgaria and Turkey for the rest of the second episode.

Check out the YouTube video of the Belgrade spot - let me know if you agree with me or not!)

Subscribe to Balkan File

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice layout! Look forward to reading the next entry. You gotta keep it up until at least Eurovision...