Monday, 11 August 2008
No.14 : Welcome To Sarajevo
IMDb ink : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120490/
Welcome to Sarajevo is a drama documentary shot shortly after the end of the Bosnian/Serb war of the early 1990’s. The film poster I’ve used has the funny tag line “To get the story they’ll risk everything” which no doubt led to some disappointment in people expecting an action thriller.
The film follows a troupe of journalists who are following the war which is becoming more brutal by the day. After visiting an orphanage a British journalist risks everything by smuggling out a young Bosnian girl who otherwise would have died. Once he has her back in England the fight goes on to keep her there and to convince her mother that this is the best course for the girl.
I found the film very hard hitting and in many places it made for uncomfortable viewing. Scenes of actual news footage were used with reaction shots of the cast cut in. A cynic may say this is a cheap way to make a movie but the reality is all the more brutal when you know those are real dead bodies and starving people.
The sense of danger in the city was evident throughout and the total inhumanity on show was shocking. One scene showing the aftermath of a mortar attack was particularly horrible with missing limbs and faces the order of the day. It would be easy for a film of this to get preachy but instead it lets the viewer draw their own unmistakable conclusions.
Although it was based on ITN reporter Michael Nicholson’s own experiences the lead character had a different name, presumably so that other aspects could be brought in. I did think the focus on the orphanage and adoption elements drew us away from the bigger picture but a film encompassing all that was going on would last for many months. The cast was pretty good and there were plenty of recognizable faces. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei had pretty small and forgettable parts, but no doubt their participation will draw a bigger audience.
The ending offered a ray of hope, but the general feeling was one of horror and desperation. Not entertainment as you know it but compelling and required viewing.
Best Bit : The tension packed scene when the Serbs board the rescue bus.
‘W’ Rating 20/23