No Man's Land
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

This is the second of the five films, nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, that I've seen. The first was Amelie which was great and No Man's Land is great too.  But it couldn't be more different than AmelieNo Man's Land is a black-comedy, anti-war movie in the vein of Dr. Strangelove only not quite as manic since there's no Peter Sellers.  No Man's Land tells the story of three soldiers in Bosnia in 1993 who are trapped in a trench between the lines.  One of the soldiers is lying on a mine that will explode if he moves. The other two, a Bosnian and a Serb, alternate cooperating and attacking each other as they try to find a way out of their predicament.  The UN peacekeepers try to defuse the situation and save the soldiers but end up looking like the Keystone Kops.  The peacekeepers, referred to as Smurfs by the combatants, can hardly talk among themselves (English, German and French) let alone speak Serbo-Croatian.  So when the UN guys are around, everyone speaks to each other in broken English.  The rest of the movie has subtitles.  We all know about the futility of war, particularly one in the Balkans but it's nice to be reminded.  No Man's Land won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes and has already won several Best Foreign Film Awards including the Golden Globe.  It is very funny and very sad.  The cast is very good, particularly, Branko Djuric as the veteran Bosnian soldier and Rene Bitorajac as the young Serbian soldier.  And Georges Siatidis is great as the only UN soldier who actually cares.  Danis Tanovic directed and wrote the screenplay.  He did a wonderful job on both. This film veers between slapstick comedy and 3-hanky tragedy and manages to make both elements work.  Maybe if every American saw No Man's Land and Black Hawk Down, it would calm the war fever a bit.  Well, maybe not.  As we watch the futile efforts to save the man lying on the mine, we realize that he is a metaphor for  the whole Balkan war.  He can't save himself and no one wants to touch him for fear of blowing themselves up.  It's worth seeing.