Friday, January 05, 2007

No-Man's Land

No-Man's Land is a movie set in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The focus of the story is on two soldiers from opposite sides who find themselves stuck in a trench in no-man's land.
The Bosnian war was the vicious aftermath of the demise of communism in Yugoslavia. The fighting was vicious, with massacres and the longest siege of a city(Sarajevo by the Serbians) since World War 2. The UN and the NATO were largely useless. They were in the country for humanitarian purposes and were hamstrung by rules and regulations. They were mute spectators to civilian massacres, were taken advantage of by both sides and sometimes taken hostage. In all, not their shining hour.
The Bosnian War (and Rwanda and Darfur and any number of other major and minor conflicts) really makes one wonder about human nature. People who have been living in relative peace split in ethnic lines(and religious lines in the case of Darfur). Suddenly, it's as if the previous coexistence was a mirage and the animal nature of man has asserted itself. Actually, it is hard to call it 'animal nature'. Animals don't seem to indulge in the kind of intraspecies violence and hatred that humans seem to slip into all too easily. It is as though this thing we call civilization is a poor, and ill-fitting mask.
Anyhow, back to the movie, the UN forces are represented by a french sergeant who wants to do something ('There can be no neutrality while witnessing a murder', he says) and his do-nothing bosses. The french sergeant's is a brief, but well etched role.
The movie is very well made. It makes its point without being preachy. Even though it is a serious movie, there are some very nice touches of humour. In all, a good movie.

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