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 Amelie.
No 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.