Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Man's Land

Spent my last weekend at a friend's place, watching No Man's Land, a Bosnian movie about the war that broke out there in 1993. It's the movie that beat Lagaan to the Oscars - deservedly so.

The plot revolves around two enemy soldiers (one Bosnian, and one Serb) who find themselves stuck in a trench, exchanging bullets, cigarettes, and heated self-righteous arguments, while being shelled by both sides. The two soldiers play a game of cat and mouse, winning the upper hand on old political debates while playing Capture the Gun.

Things heat up when an a presumably dead Bosnian soldier wakes up to find a landmine planted underneath, which brings some well meaning foot soldiers from UNPROFOR to the scene. It's a breach of protocol, but the French sergeant uses a British journalist's clout to get a German bomb defusal specialist in the scene.

The movie revels in absurdism that evolves out of the multicultural and bureaucratic milieu, and weaves it into a climax that works out as an allegory to the war itself. You have two former neighbours fighting each other to death, a bunch of well meaning but uncoordinated Europeans standing helplessly on the sidelines, a time bomb that's ticking away, with a limited attention span being the only defence mechanism to the unfolding tragedy.

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