Ničija zemlja [No Man’s Land] (2001)

Ničija zemlja
Director: Danis Tanovic
Writer: Danis Tanovic
Cast: Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Sovagovic, Georges Siatidis, Serge-Henri Valcke, Sacha Kremer, Alain Eloy, Simon Callow
Seen on: 9.2.2018

At the height of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ciki (Branko Djuric), a Bosnian Muslim, and Nino (Rene Bitorajac), a Bosnian Serb get trapped in No Man’s Land. Despite being caught in the same boat, the two can’t help but fight with each other while they wait for a possibility to get back to their respective troops. Things are made even more complicated when they discover that they are in very real danger of being blown up.

No Man’s Land is a bitter and angry film, but its also so funny that the darkness almost disappears – only to come through at important moments to hit you even harder. The film is a little rough at times, but that just makes it stronger.

With its setting, the film places modern warfare between the UNO, media and nationalism – and it places it there very well and very realistically as far as I can tell. It’s filled with people who are being ground between different parts of a big machine. And the only ones who get out of that are the ones who – for whatever reason – are still willing and able to play along.

All of that leads to an ending that really carries a punch, especially because it remains so open and undiluted. Tanovic doesn’t try to cushion anything here and it really is tough to swallow. It’s definitely one of those endings that stay with you. Actually, the entire film stays with you.

I can understand why the film was as successful as it was when it came out. Of course, it’s pretty obvious here and there that they didn’t have a lot of money to work with, making the film a little rougher than a big production would probably have been. But it’s not so much that the film works despite this, the roughness helps the film to makes its point.

And it makes the point about the horrible reality of war sharply. The sense of humor that runs through it may make it seem at times that the film isn’t angry or bitter about the loss of humanity, but that just means that when the anger – that’s always just under the surface – does shine through, the film is just that more obviously furious. As it should be. And as it should make you.

Summarizing: Impressive.

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