Posted on 11/17/11 09:37 AM
The madness and violence that throng the planet during war have provided inspiration for many a piece of art. Throughout the ages, countless artists have expressed their bitter frustration towards humanity's never-ending apetite for war and the inevitable mayhem that ensues. Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land is one such work of art; it is a film depicting how the continual strife between Bosnia and Serbia, or just conflict in general, takes man to increasingly high levels of insanity.
The film opens at sometime past midnight, with a regiment of the Bosnian relief troops gradually making its way towards the Bosnian side of the border. At the break of dawn, they realise that, in the dark, they had unknowingly faltered onto the Serbian front. Before they know it, they are pelted with bullets and shells coming from the Serbs that leave all
but one dead. Soon, the lone survivor (or so it seems) is soon joined by his Serbian counterpart. In yet another complicated turn of events, a third soldier, hitherto presumed to be dead, becomes a living booby trap, making survival all the more difficult for the trio.
Right from the first frames of the film, Writer-Director Tanovic establishes the film as a thriller in a war-torn setting; later, however, it becomes increasingly obvious that the beneath the mould of an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride lie themes which percolate much deeper than your average war film, themes pertaining to issues that were and still are pervasive across the globe. And, although this is the primary focus of any film depicting war, this one in particular takes a far more interesting route to get its point across. Dry humour and witty jokes/oneliners make up a major part of the script, as do the disturbing and thought-provoking undertones. Branko Djuric and Rene Bitorajac are both brilliant and entirely convincing as the rough, doubting Ciki and the young, inexperienced and genial Nino respectively.
Inspite of having such a claustrophobic setting, the film retains its momentum throughout its relatively short runtime of 98 minutes, owing to a smart script, and crisp editing. My only gripe with the film is that the relationship between Ciki and Nino, although beautifully and effortlessly developed through the film, culminates in a stacatto-ic manner that is both abrupt, and rather inconclusive.
No Man's Land is a film that highly resembles Kubrick's "Dr.Strangelove" : It's one part humorous and laugh-out-loud comedy, one part engaging character drama, and three parts a stingingly satirical farce on the inanity of war and humanity's inability to accept responsibility for its own follies. It is also a brutally honest portrait of the hypocrasies that plague the world today, and a dark and harrowing human drama that sometimes borders on unapologetic cynicism.
Don't miss it.