We have seen in recent years a glut of war
films from Saving Private Ryan to Windtalkers each trying to outdo the
other in gore and splatter. Each of these films has marketed itself on
dubious claims to realism while succeeding in telling us little more than,
well, war is gory and providing a pornography of violence. Another characteristic
of these films is a disturbing tendency to rewrite history to the extent
that a more cynical observer than I might feel they were a justification
of military adventurism.
It is with relief that we come across Oscar-winning No Mans Land,
a film that gives a considered representation of war specifically
the Bosnian war without resorting to the blood-and-guts routines
of the mainstream. It is perhaps significant that Danis Tanovic is, unlike
the Dream Factorys crew, a director with a first-hand experience
This story of a Bosnian soldier trapped in a trench between the lines
with a Serb and another injured soldier lying on a spring mine that could
go off any time is excoriating about both the Bosnian and Serb sides and
the incompetent and ineffective international peacekeepers. In its refusal
to see black and white it achieves a perspective and credibility absent
in most other war movies and places itself alongside satires such as Catch
22 and M*A*S*H.
Possibly it is too specific to the Balkans conflagration to be a universal
counter weight to the spectacular crud thrown at us these days but No
Mans Land is morally and cinematically a very worthwhile film.
Review by Chris Page