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No Man's Land  



Directed by: Danis Tanovic

Written by: Danis Tanovic

Main Cast:

Branko Djuric - Chiki  
Rene Bitorajac - Nino  
Filip Sovagovic - Cera  
Georges Siatidis - Marchand  
Serge-Henri Valcke - Dubois  
Sacha Kremer - Michel  
Alain Eloy - Pierre  
Mustafa Nadarevic - Old Serbian Soldier  
Bogdan Diklic - Serbian Officer  
Simon Callow - Soft  
Katrin Cartlidge - Jane Livingstone  
Tanja Ribic - Martha  
Branko Zavrsan - Dťmineur  
Rated R  

ďDo you know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is? An optimist thinks things canít get worse; a pessimist knows they can.Ē 

To sum up: Caught in the middle of No Manís Land, two enemies decide to come to terms and learn that they still hate each other. 

     No Manís Land is a film where everyone in it tries to reach beyond themselves, strive to improve a lousy situation, to buck the bureaucracy and the status quo and fail miserably. Itís a sad situation thatís a telling account of humanity, misery, waste, and Murphyís Law. Itís also pretty darn funny at times.            

     It takes place in 1993 during the war in Bosnia. A relief force of Bosnian soldiers accidentally wander into Serbian territory and are cut to pieces; all save one soldier (Djuric) who finds himself in a trench in the middle of no manís land. The following morning two Serbians investigate the site and sweep for survivors. The more experienced of the two is killed leaving the rookie (Bitorajac) in a face to face standoff with the surviving Djuric. So stuck with each other, stuck with the danger of being killed by either side, and with a third soldier stuck on a mine that could kill them all, they need to get along or get killed.      

     The beauty of this film is the clever way in which it discusses the pointless futility of war. This particular war has gone on for so long and is based on so mindless a reason to begin with (ethnic differences), that all the arguments surrounding the issue comes across as silly and wasteful. This point is perfectly underscored when, amidst artillery shelling that could kill them both, they are engaged not so much in survival as in the debate (too kind a word) of who started the war. Indeed, itís like watching two kids at a playground argue, especially since the whole issue is moot at this point.

     French U.N. soldier Marchand (Georges Siatidis), frustrated with the apathy that is the foundation of his orders, which require him to stand by and essentially do nothing but man his post, takes matters into his own hands and tries to rescue the stranded soldiers. Forming an alliance with a British journalist (Katrin Cartlidge) they try to do something in this do nothing peace-keeping mission, by getting this crisis on the world stage so that the "higher ups" have to take action.

     They both start out with good intentions, but the forces of fate, hatred, lethargy, and the quest for ratings all conspire against everyone. Cartlidge's superiors are more interested in getting interviews with the individual soldiers than they are with caring for the people involved. The U.N. peacekeeper in command is more interested in sexual dalliances with his blonde secretary, and considers these events as inconvenient distractions. Djuric and Bitorajac are more interested in hating each other than a sane solution. On and on, no one comes off well in this film.

     What's interesting is how the film is able to deal with all of these pathetic and sad elements and still come off as the amusingly dark comedy that it is. It's a hard task to deal with the depressing and make it funny and this film pulls it off with ease.

     All of this and knowing winks at German regimentality make this a film to catch; even those of you who don't like subtitles.

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