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Croatian filmmaker Vinko Bresan directs the political drama Svjedoci (Witnesses), based on the novel Alabaster Sheep by Jurica Pavicic about real-life war crimes committed during the Serbo-Croatian war. The film meditates on the tragedy belying conflicts that pit neighbor against neighbor - in this case, the Croatians against the Serbs in the early 1990s. The picture opens with three Croatian soldiers opting to intimidate and strong-arm a Serbian man by burning his house to the ground; instead, their plan goes a bit too far and he is brutally murdered, his daughter kidnapped. At this point, Bresan fractures his narrative and jumps back and forth in time, between the reaction of the gunmen to the events, the police investigation of the kidnapping and murder, the events leading up to the attack and the widow's plight. Witnesses was screened in competition at the 2003 Motovun Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Witnesses
Spanning a year beginning in the summer of 1984, The Witnesses offers the considerable satisfaction of a beautifully acted ensemble piece built on the foundation of a serious subject%u2014the dawn of the AIDS crisis%u2014handled just so.
The occasional voiceover from Béart and a slightly mournful score from Philippe Sarde offer some sense of lament, but mostly this unfolds in the moment and is urgent and engaging.
Witnesses takes us back to the turmoil in the Balkans. But the movie is not directly about the war. It's a cleverly told murder mystery.
More than a thriller, the film is a portrait of the passions that drive ordinary people to kill and even worse, to accept the killing as something honorable.
An engaging if somewhat inchoate drama set in the early years of Aids.
Bristling with emotional intensity, this is far superior to earlier AIDS-related dramas.
A lively, timely flashback to the early days of AIDS with this character-driven drama.
Techine never lapses into morbid sentimentality and it's interesting for a film to put the horror of AIDs in the 1980s in the perspective of a viewpoint 20-odd years on.
Audience Reviews for Witnesses
September 03, 2014
The repetition of certain sequences, although adding to the events every time to unfold the story further, seems a bit odd. The use of nonlinear narrative may prove to be a turn off for a few good men. If you can take that, it's quite a watchable flick (based on a novel which in turn is said to be inspired from real events). The story reminded me of that saying, "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." Just saying!!
Well, enough said. 3/5 would be fair enough, IMO. Feel free to be a witness & decide the judgment for yourself.
"Witnesses" is set in a Croatian town where Josko(Kresimir Mikic), Vojo(Marinko Prga) and Baric(Bojan Navojec) have gone to bury their fallen comrade in arms. While there, they go armed to a home and are surprised to find the occupant, a Serb, is home and accidentally kill him. At the house of Mirija(Mirjana Karanovic), the mother of the dead soldier, they debate about what to do with what it is in the garage and whether to let it go. Meanwhile, Barbir(Drazen Kuhn) is investigating the crime for the police while Lidija(Alma Prica), a reporter, discovers some inconsistencies in the evidence.
"Witnesses" is an intriguing movie with much to say on the nature of identity in a war where the lines are not clearly drawn and nobody is left unscathed, not the soldiers or the ones left behind. At first the mystery is a compelling one but the movie gets tripped up by its own complex structure, following one character before rewinding and following another to slowly reveal the secrets layer by layer, that only makes events seem murkier than they really had to be.
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