#378058

Anonymous

A small review: It's a little spoiler just so you know.

I just watched a movie in BCS called ' U Zemlji Krvi i Meda.' It's a film about that takes place in the Bosnian war but the kicker is that its directed by Angelina Jolie and one of the key supporting actors is Rade Serbedzija. The two main characters are Danijel, a former policeman turned Bosnian Serb Army officer who was inlove with a Bosniak girl named Ajla who is also a painter. War breaks out near Sarajevo and the Bosnian Serb Army (BSA) round up all the Bosniak civilians out of their homes. They kill most of the men and round up the women and take them to camp like conditions where they are made slaves to Bosnian Serb soldiers which also rape them on a regular basis. Jolie being a woman I think put special emphasis on the rape aspect as it was pretty disturbing to watch. Anyway , Ajla ends up captured and is put into slavery at some Serb military headquarters but all this sudden Danijel is a Serb officer there and instantly recognizes Ajla. All of Ajla's female friends and family are pretty much raped but Danijel prevents Ajla from being raped by insisting to the Serb soldiers that Ajla is his 'property' and not to be touched.

Danijel's charater is portrayed as a sympathetic man who personally disagrees with the war and the brutality shown by his fellow Serbs especially towards Bosniak women. Yet , Danijel is hopelessly trapped between his obligation as a Serb officer to support his men and also being secretly opposed to war and being in loved with a Bosniak woman. To make matters worse , Danijel's father Nebojsa ( played by Rade Serbedzija) is a BSA general who has a passionate dislike for Bosniaks and Croats ( though Croats are not portrayed in this film just occasionally mentioned). Nebojsa approves of the brutal methods of the Serbs including the concentration camps depicted in the film and this developes some tension between Danijel and his father which is a focal point later in the film.

Ajla's character is depicted as an idealistic young Bosniak woman who is not interested in politics but rather spends her time painting. She mostly paints portraits of people , which is elaborated on in the film , particularly her sister whom she lived with before the war. Ajla's sister managed to escape capture by evading Serb troops with her new born infant. It's not really elaborated on how she escaped capture but she doesn't appear till later with a Bosnian resistance movement. She is in love with Danijel and this is shown 4 months before the war fully breaks out in Bosnia. Danijel and Ajla are separated as Danijel goes to the front and reunite only after Ajla is captured.

Danijel is afraid that he cannot no longer protect Ajla. Alja lets Danijel know of her interest in art and says that a picture she drew of her sister rests in the Sarajevo gallery. He informs Ajla of a loose window in the bathroom and when she can escape the guards. Danijel is sent to another front and Ajla escapes only after a couple tries. Ajla hides in the woods looted with dead, apparently Serb, soldiers. Ajla sees a man looting the bodies but the man is armed. Ajla is spotted and begs the man not to shoot. The man demands her name , she says 'Ajla' , this is a Bosniak name so the man backs off and states his name is Tarik and he's part of the Bosniak resistance. Tarik says he knows Ajla's sister and that Ajla's sister is with him at the resistance base. Ajla is reunited with her sister. Meanwhile , Danijel's mission involved capturing more of Sarajevo , including the Sarajevo gallery. Sure enough , Danijel took for himself one of the Ajla's paintings of her sister and hung it in his office. Tarik was tasked with retriving food from destroyed UN convoys and even going behind Serb lines dodging snipers and guards. Tarik informs Ajla and her sister that one of the Serb commanders has a picture of Ajla's sister in his office, apparently Tarik recongized it through a window. Ajla knows its Danijel but agrees to help the Bosniak resistance. Ajla predicts that if she's captured by Danijel's troops that Danijel will treat her well and allow her to get close to him. Tarik devises a plan to allow himself to get captured by the Serbs. Tarik gets himself captued ( although I don't know how he wasn't just shot like everyone else?) but somehow is brought to the Serb officers. He declares that he is a defector of the Bosnian Army but knows their positions and offers to help the Serbs locate them. This is 1994 and by this time the non-Serb forces in Bosnia began pushing back. One of the Serb commanders accepts Tarik's offer but Tarik mentions to Danijel that he has a nice picture and that he recognizes the woman and her sister and that Tarik knows how to contact Ajla. Danijel tells Tarik to have Ajla fall into a trap ( But this is already preplanned by Ajla and Tarik) and Danijel's men happen to capture Ajla. Danijel again declares that Ajla is his 'personal property' to the rest of the Serb men so that they do not rape her. Danijel further more declares Ajla his personal artists and keep her in his chambers , in essence 'protected' from the Serb soldiers who can take their liberties with other women. As Ajla predicted Danijel opened up to her. Danijel treats her relatively well bringing her real dinner , buying her things like new brushes and a dress. Even manages to give his men a 'night off' and sneaks Ajla to the Sarajevo Gallery which was looted and captured by the BSA. They have romantic moments but the film never shows Ajla communicating back and forth with the resistance. At this point its unknown whether Ajla is really in contact with them or not.
Some of Danijel's soldiers report to General Nebojsa ( Danijel's father) who is at a bigger, larger base in town that Danijel is keeping 'that ****** girl' in his chambers all the time and that he allows no one near her. The soldiers inforrm Nebojsa that there are rumors of their romantic involvement and that she is more than merely his artist and sex slave. Nebojsa orders Danijel and his unit on some scouting mission while Nebojsa goes to investigate the matter for himself. Nebojsa enters Danijel's chambers startling a naked Ajla who was sleeping. He orders her to get dressed and to paint his portrait. Ajla is freightened and shaking the whole time but manages to paint a good picture. Nebojsa is calm and smoking a cigarette and begins to notice that Ajla has very nice hands. Then he proceeds to tell her that his own grandmother had very worn and beaten hands and that she would toil the fields and work tirelessly just so her ****** overloards can wear silk and live in luxuary. Nebojsa goes into a history lesson explaining how Ustashe and Handzar ( Croatian and Bosniak military serving the fascist regimes) went into his village , murdered his mother , executed everyone , left their bodies to rot on the fields , children were killed , an all around really horrible story not all that dissimilar to what Ajla was witnessing already. Nebojsa explained in a very perverse way that's why he belives he's justified in issuing the orders that he does. Ajla explained to him that her grandfather was a Partisan and that he tought her that Serbs , Croats , and Bosniaks are all the same and that hate is evil. Nebojsa simply remarked , I guess some of you were alright then leaves the chamber but informs one of the Serb soldiers to enter the chamber to basically rape Ajla. And thats what happened. Danijel finds out as he literally sees the man leaving the chamber. Danijel rushes into the chamber to find Ajla crying in the shower. He flips out and started calling her 'whore' and Ajla tries to explain that Danijel's father ordered the rape to happen. Danijel finds the rapist , takes him in the wood, and kills him. Danijel then goes to his father's chambers. Danijel is actually smacked down by his father but then embraced. His father begs wit him to 'kill that whore.' He also goes into another history lesson on why the Serbs are really victims of the war. Danijel leaves , goes into his chamber , puts a gun to Ajla but then has a change of heart. Meanwhile its 1995 already and the Serbs are starting to lose the war as a whole ( its heard in radio announcements). NATO has began their bombing campaign and it was any day that Danijel's position would be bombed. Danijel and his officers decide to make a temporary base in an abandoned Catholic church since NATO didn't intentionally target churches. Danijel informs Ajla that he is going to set up a new base in the church and that he would let her know in three days that he's (and his officers are)ok by ordering the cook not to serve her dinner. 3 days pass and Danijel , after dodging some frontline gunfire from the Bosnian Army and some NATO bombs on his position , makes it into the church. Ajla notices her food isn't delivered the the 3rd night and assumes Danijel is ok. Danijel goes out to light a cigarette and suddently the door blows up behind him. A bomb went off in the church killing everyone except Danijel. Danijel , in a fit of rage, supermans his way back to Ajla and immediately assaults her as she tries to resist. Danijel calls her every derogatory name for a female you can think of and finally figured out that Ajla set the trap and Danijel was supposed to die in the explosion as well. Ajla simply looks at Danijel , teary eyed , and says 'I'm sorry' and Danijel then shoots her in the forehead killing her on the spot. Danijel goes into a trance like state he comes out of his base and start walking to a U.N. checkpoint. He drops to his knees in front of them and declares ' I am Danijel Vukojevic, and I am a War criminal.' He says it a couple times and the movie ends.

Serbs will not like this film , not at all. If you are a Serb , especially Bosnian Serb and you absolutely refuse to believe that the BSA did terrible things then don't even watch this film, save yourself time , it will just make you angry.  Even the Serb protagonist self-admits to being a war criminal and his is the most kindly portayed Serb. Virtually no Serbian civilians are shown in the film either , just Serb soldiers assulting , raping , and brutally murdering Bosniak civilians. The Bosniak soldiers are shown as heroic underground resistance and portrayed as living in conditions worse than a ***ish ghetto in WW2.  Angelina was predictably accused by the Serb media for being so one sided. But actually Rade Serbedzija ( a Serb actor in the film) actually jumped to her defense and said that everyone knows that all three sides comitted crimes but this was focusing only on one particular area and that it wasn't a documentary but rather a drama trying to make people emotionally aware of what happened. Natually , Serbedzija was virtually disowned by nationalist Serbs after this. Others will find the film powerful and emotional if not overstated , especially with the brutal rape scenes. It's not for the feint of heart but does offer some insight into the intense emotions experienced by victims ( too bad only one side of victims is shown though) in that terrible war.

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