The Way Steel Was Tempered

Tako se kalio čelik
Directed by Želimir Žilnik
Produced by Svetozar Udovički
Written by Želimir Žilnik
Branko Andrić
Starring Lazar Ristovski
Relja Bašić
Ljiljana Blagojević
Tatjana Pujin
Music by Karolj Morvai
Vladimir Stanojević
Cinematography Nina Vranešević
Distributed by Terra Film
RTV Novi Sad
Avala Film
Zvezda Film
Release dates
  • 30 June 1988 (1988-06-30)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Yugoslavia
Language Serbo-Croatian

The Way Steel Was Tempered (Serbian: Tako se kalio čelik) is a 1988 Yugoslav film directed by Serbian director Želimir Žilnik.[1] It was nominated for a Golden St. George award at the 16th Moscow International Film Festival[2] and has been screened at festivals worldwide such as the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also shown at the Pyongyang Film Festival[3] which frequently showed movies from non-aligned countries.[4]


The Film is about a steel worker, Leo, who tries to live a carefree life, but his progress towards that goal is impeded by the steel mill management that does its best to earn a profit before the steel bubble bursts and the company goes under. Leo and his comrades are faced with a bleak and uncertain future. As this trouble with his employment goes on, he meets a woman named Verica and becomes involved in an extramarital affair with her.

His wife, Ruža, fed up with her husband's constant cheating and dishonesty divorces him and goes back to live with her parents, leaving Leo behind. As she takes her leave, she meets Michel, the head of security at Leo's steel mill. Michel is a photographer and an ex-soldier. After seeing them together, Leo is faced with emotional turmoil and manages to lose his job after a jealous outburst. In a fit of anger Leo attempts to knock down a monument in the town square, and is sent to prison.

Oddly enough, after being sent to prison Leo ends up working back at the steel mill, as the factory and the prison have a deal in using prisoners as general laborers. Foreign business partners arrive and they are very impressed with the historic appearance of the mill and the workers that they decide that the whole place be put under historic preservation. The foreign partners, being passionate collectors of socialist realism take a liking to Leo and take him with them as a "perfect specimen." Several years later he returns - triumphantly - driving a new Cadillac.


Actor Role
Lazar Ristovski Leo
Relja Bašić Misel
Ljiljana Blagojević Ruža
Tatjana Pujin Lili


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