Thursday, December 09, 2004

No Man's Land

Last night's screening at the Between War and Peace season I'm organising was Danis Tanović's No Man's Land, a powerful evocation of the futility and cruelty of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. It is a timely reminder of the bloody, ultra-nationalist prejudices which set into motion that barbarism in the heart of Europe and the spurious morality of the international political class. Set in a trench in the no man's land between Bosnian and Serbian lines it uses the well-known device of throwing together protagonists who are ultimately dependent on each other for their very survival. Tanović takes a considerable risk in using a dark, acerbic humour as well as the cat-and-mouse antics of the two soldiers - Ciki and Nino - to drive home his central moral point: that this was a crazy war in which many sides were culpable. At the same time there is a sense in which Tanović is also saying that the region has implacable oppositions which are not easy for outsiders to understand still less to resolve. In the final analysis, although Tanović has made a film that is about his people - the Bosnians - he has also made a story about the world. Watch it if you haven't already done so.


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