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
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