No Man's Land (2001)

This is an allegory, though told dramatically, relating the horrible condition that the Yugoslav republics were/are in. It masterfully expresses the futility of war and the tinderbox that this part of the world is.

The players are a Serbian soldier, two Bosnian soldiers, a UN tank full of French troops, a British reporter, and a German mine specialist. Therefore the film is told in four languages: Serbo-Croatian, French, English, and German. This emphasizes the point that the conflict was an international one - one in which we all bear some responsibliity to solve.

The no man's land where the film is set, the banter and attacks from one side to the other, the man laying on a mine, the long summer day, the soldiers with their hands tied behind their backs, the reporters, and so much more are ripe with symbolism. I dare not try to unpack it here as I would be preventing you from enjoying the film independently.

Excellent writing, acting, and sweeping landscape images of the Bosnian landscape make this a watchable film. Though there is violence and tension, there is also humour and humanity infused throughout.

I studied Yugoslavian history circa World War II. In order to do so, I had to go back 1000 years and trace the roots of the ethnic conflict. The land was used as a buffer zone between the Ottoman and Austrian empires. So the Croats, Serbs, Bosnians (all different religions to boot) were hired to fight for one empire or the other and kill each other. It is amazing to me how the country was relatively peaceful for the 45 years following the war. It is still a war waiting to happen, and it always will be, as the film leaves you with a sense of futility. The film left me with an intense desire to solve the problem - I woke up thinking about it this morning.

Official Site | IMDB

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