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No Man's Land

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: No Man's Land

Starring: Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac
Director: Danis Tanovic
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Foreign, Suspense, War

*Also starring: Simon Callow, Katrin Cartlidge, Georges Siatidis, Filip Sovagovic

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

War is absurd. There's an original thought.

Danis Tanovic's NO MAN'S LAND is an absurdist anti-war film about both sides being hopelessly locked into pointless battles with each other in the former Yugoslavia. A film that would have resonated more before September 11, its portrayal of soldiers as desperate dolts who carry out insane orders seems a bit dated now. After the movie makes its one didactic point, it repeats it endlessly, hoping to beat it into out heads that war is fruitless and senseless.

The plot concerns two wounded soldiers, Chiki (Branko Djuric) and Nino (Rene Bitorajac), from opposite sides who are trapped together in a trench in a no man's land between Bosnian and Serbian lines. Sometimes one of them holds a gun over the other, but, like a football game, the other side keeps fumbling so that the balance of power in the foxhole goes back and forth. Also in the trench is another soldier -- originally assumed dead -- who is lying on top of a mine that will explode if he moves.

Chiki and Nino strip down to their shorts, jump out of the hole and wave white flags which nonplusses the forces from both sides who have their guns trained on them. This ruckus causes a UN rescue team to be called in. Proving feckless, they can't help because of unclear political complications associated with coming to the trapped soldiers' aid. Eventually Chiki, Nino and their mined companion become nothing more than a news event with the three men's lives being relatively unimportant.

Since the movie stars more an idea -- war is stupid and hopeless -- than real characters, we find ourselves surprisingly unmoved when the poor soldiers' demise appears likely.

NO MAN'S LAND runs 1:37. The film is in Bosnian with English subtitles. It is rated R for "violence and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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