Time of Violence, originally known as “Vreme na nasilie”, was first released in 1988, at a time when the disintegration of the Communist political system in Bulgaria was drawing ever closer. What adds to its allure is that it is based on the controversial novel “Time of Parting”, “Vreme Razdelno”, by Anton Donchev , a writer and historian born in the seaside city of Burgas, a city which looms large on the Bulgarian literary scene. What is widely considered controversial is that the film’s release coincided with the Bulgarian “Revival Process”, a time when many ethnic Turks living on Bulgarian territory were forced to change their names to sound more “Bulgarian” in order to be able to integrate more seamlessly into the status quo. Some argue that this particular timing casts the film as a propaganda tool due to the fact that it depicts the brutality of forced Islamisation of Bulgarians during the three centuries of Islamic rule, thus seeking a justification for the “Revival process”, creating a tit for tat schenario.
However, I disagree. I think this film is more than a propaganda tool, as it paints a picture of a time when people suffered in vain, as the film shows the peaceful coexistence between Turks and Bulgarians in a small village in the Rhodope mountains descending into uncomfortable hatred and violence. I would go as far as to say that the scenes left a lasting and emotional impression on me, possibly due to the fact that when I first saw it I was really young, maybe ten years old and the main characters seemed very realistic to me at the time. There was love, there was injustice and a strange sense of loyalty and pride weaved into the storyline which fuelled the action and created tension. The sort of tension between neighbours which can never be quite black and white. Moreover, the nuances and believability of the characters as well as the emphasis on the blurry nature of the border between peace and violence make this film worth watching.