Welcome to Sarajevo Reviews
Good Film! What "Welcome To Sarajevo" did was open my eyes and help me realize how fortunate I am. Sarajevo was a peaceful, metropolitan city not unlike many cities in North America. But it is no longer. It's almost too easy to clear your mind of the strife going on in other parts of the world. Sometimes we feel guilty for being so fortunate. Sometimes we feel horror at the news reports of inhuman atrocities. And most times we shut out the reality of it as it is rarely affecting us in a personal way.
This gripping tale of war-torn Sarajevo is told through the eyes of British reporters. It will probably shock, jar and depress you, but it will most certainly increase your sense of global awareness, and instill a better appreciation of the liberties that most of us have taken for granted. Images from concentration camps hauntingly mimic those from fifty years ago.
This film is based on an amazing true story of one man's personal involvement and promise to rescue one refugee child and the great lengths to which he must go to deliver her from a war zone.
I caught this film in its limited theatrical run following its inclusion in the 1997 Toronto Film Festival. I exited the theater with my wife in a staggering awe-struck state. No one could fully communicate what it would be like to live in a war zone, but this film gives you a potent taste without pulling any punches.
What this means is that most people will likely find it difficult to recommend this film to friends. It's not an uplifting tale, but it is an extremely important one, and I feel privileged and fortunate for having seen it.
Journalist Floyd from US, Michael Henderson from UK and their teams meet the beginning of Bosnian war in Sarajevo. During their reports they find an orphanage run by devoted Mrs. Savic near the front line. Henderson gets so involved in kids' problems that he decides to take on the children, Emira, illegally back to England. He is assisted by American aid worker Nina.
Michael Winterbottom's film has its heart in the right place. Attempting to expose the violence and atrocities of war and their effects on children is admirable, but what's missing is a clear, central story arc; the film finds it about forty-five minutes into the film, but it's too late. What is more, the film is a combination of news footage and live action shots; this works, but Winterbottom over-uses the trick.
Overall, I found it hard to dislike Welcome to Sarajevo, but I must admit that the story flounders.
Winterbottom's stylistic concept in terms of structure was to give the film a sense of being divided into chapters that were terse, tense and affecting. The intercutting of the news footage with the film material creates a jolting effect as the story flips back and forth between drama and the wider context.
The story follows a group of journalists who spend their days braving the front lines, searching for footage that will guarantee them a prime slot on their local newscast. Their adage: To get the story they're prepared to risk everything.
Granted, the flick testifies to the toll that war takes on families and communities. Yet amidst all of the horrow it shows, also suggests the immense goodness that war can compel, from Michael's decision to take one of the children home to the UK and away from the war, to the sense of loyalty that one of the young Sarajevan men shows Michael. And yes, the people of Sarajevo resisted the siege by trying to carry on as normal, shopping and socialising with style and grace in the teeth of this montrous inhumanity.
Using archival news footage of politicians, the film makes straightforward, pointed comments about the absence of support for the victims of the war.
[font=Trebuchet MS]Full review to come.[/font]