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Laramie Movie Scope:
No Man's Land

A darkly comic tale of the absurdities of war

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 23, 2001 -- "No Man's Land" is a darkly comic tale about the Bosnian-Serb war. While it takes no sides on the war, it takes some sharp shots at the United Nations, European politics, and at the media. The Bosnian film is that country's official entry for nomination for an Academy Award for best foreign film this year. It is as sharp, biting, relentless and funny as any film I've seen this year.

The story has three soldiers, two Bosnians and a Serb caught in a trench between the battle lines of the two armies in 1993. Ciki (Branko Djuric), a Bosnian, and Nino (Rene Bitorajac), a Serb, are caught in the trench, along with another Bosnian, Cera (Filip Sovagovic). Nino and another Serbian soldier put Cera's body on a land mine, thinking he was already dead. Now Cera is trapped, unless the mine can be defused. Neither Nino or Ciki know how to defuse the mine. Eventually the Smurfs (United Nations soldiers) show up to try to help, but a senior UN commander does not want to get involved.

UN Sergeant Marchand (Georges Siatidis) decides to push the issue by using the media. He leaks the story to Jane Livingstone (Katrin Cartlidge of "Before the Rain") who turns the trapped soldier into an international incident which demands action. Pretty soon there are reporters all over the story and the UN commanders decide that something has to be done. The situation becomes more and more absurd. The resolution to the story is darkly comic and ironic. The rough, vulgar language of the soldiers, and their eloquent contempt for both the media and the UN add to the humor.

The film is sharply written and directed by Danis Tanovic. Unlike most American dark comedies there is no soft edge to be found anywhere in this devastating indictment of war. It is razor-sharp throughout. The film has effective battle scenes and makes good use of television newscast footage to explain the background of the war. Performances are solid throughout, capturing perfectly the gritty practicality of the soldiers in the trench, the remote detachment of the UN command and the media feeding frenzy. Although this is a low-budget film, production values are solid. The movie was filmed in Slovenia and most of the actors come from Slovenia or Croatia, with some coming from Sarajevo. The dialogue is mostly slavic, with some French and English. There are English subtitles. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2001 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)