In Hollywood history, Brad Pitt’s ascent to stardom is often linked to iconic performances like “Oceans 11” or “World War Z.” However, among his early works lies a much lesser-known treasure: “The Dark Side of the Sun.”
Situated along the shimmering Adriatic coast lies Montenegro, a land steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. While this Balkan gem has long captivated travelers with its rugged mountains and sun-drenched shores, it also holds a place in cinematic history, thanks to the intriguing tale of “The Dark Side of the Sun” and its connection to Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt.
Yet, what distinguishes “The Dark Side of the Sun” is not just Pitt’s budding talent, but also the film’s tumultuous production history. In 1988, amidst Yugoslavia’s political turmoil, the production of “The Dark Side of the Sun” faced numerous challenges, delaying the movie’s release until 1997, nearly a decade after its completion.
Pitt’s First Major Role
Directed by Serbian filmmaker Božidar Nikolić, this romantic drama marked Pitt’s first major role, casting him as the central character grappling with a rare skin condition. As a romantic drama, the movie served as both a tribute to Montenegro’s landscapes and a showcase of its cultural richness. Set against the country’s breathtaking scenery backdrop, from the sun-kissed shores to the rugged mountains, the film offered viewers a captivating glimpse into this Balkan jewel.
Despite its delayed release, “The Dark Side of the Sun” stands as a testament to Brad Pitt’s early talent and charm. His portrayal of the lead character not only captivated audiences but also laid the foundation for his rise to Hollywood stardom.
A Star is Discovered
At the heart of “The Dark Side of the Sun” was Brad Pitt, then a relatively unknown actor on the cusp of stardom. Selected by director Božidar Nikolić to play the central character, Brad Pitt’s depiction of the troubled figure highlighted his budding talent and magnetic presence. Little did anyone know at the time that this film would serve as the launchpad for Pitt’s illustrious Hollywood career.
Today, an A-list superstar commanding millions per role, Brad Pitt in 1988 gladly accepted a modest payment of USD 1,523 for his first leading role in “The Dark Side of the Sun.” Selected ahead of 400 others by director Bozidar Nikolic, Pitt dedicated seven weeks to filming.
The filming of “The Dark Side of the Sun” primarily occurred in the picturesque Boka Bay and Ulcinj. Scenes featuring the iconic island of Sveti Stefan added to the film’s visual splendor, showcasing Montenegro’s diverse landscapes and cultural heritage.
Pitt’s Affection for Montenegro
During the filming of “The Dark Side of the Sun,” Brad Pitt developed a deep affection for Montenegro, particularly its coastal charms. Enamored by the beaches near Sveti Stefan and the historic streets of Kotor and Perast, Pitt expressed a desire to own a home in the region. However, persistent paparazzi harassment during a visit with his then-wife Angelina Jolie in 2010 dashed their plans, leaving behind only memories of what could have been.
Montenegro Through Pitt’s Eyes
Hotel Splendid Conference & Spa Resort owner Zarko Radulovic, who encountered Pitt during his visits to Montenegro, echoed the actor’s sentiments about the country’s allure. Pitt envisioned Montenegro as a haven for his family, where they could bask in the beauty of nature and create lasting memories together.
The Legacy of “The Dark Side of the Sun”
Despite facing numerous challenges, including delays caused by Yugoslavia’s political turmoil, “The Dark Side of the Sun” remains a cherished piece of cinematic history. Of course, its portrayal of Montenegro’s unparalleled beauty continues to captivate audiences, serving as a visual tribute to this enchanting destination.
Rick, played by Brad Pitt, is a young American afflicted with a rare skin condition, who cannot tolerate exposure to light, particularly sunlight. Renowned for his motorcycling prowess and donning leather attire for protection, Rick’s quest for a cure leads him and his father to a Croatian village, where they encounter a healer promising salvation.
Despite failed treatment, Rick finds love with a fellow American actress, Cheryl Pollak, and resolves to embrace life, basking in the sunlight despite the disease’s inevitable progression. Ultimately, Rick’s father comes to terms with his son’s decision, understanding the significance of choosing joy over affliction.
As audiences revisit the early works of Brad Pitt, they embark on a visual journey through Montenegro, a land of captivating beauty and cinematic intrigue. Through “The Dark Side of the Sun,” Pitt’s connection to this Balkan jewel endures, leaving an indelible mark on both the actor and the country itself. Montenegro, with its sun-drenched shores and rugged mountains, remains a timeless treasure waiting to be discovered by travelers and cinephiles alike.
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