Thursday, 23 October 2008
IMDb Link : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119873/
No, it’s not ‘The Warriors’, the ‘The’ disallows that one. This is an 1992 film concerning the United Nations peace keeping operation during the civil war in Bosnia. Doesn’t sound as much fun as gang battles with the Baseball Furies? , well maybe not but it is still well worth looking up.
The film opens with a group of working class lads enjoying the football and a night on the town. Elsewhere a couple of better spoken men, who are clearly the officers, are getting on with arranging weddings and the like. A spanner is however thrown into their collective works when they are recalled to duty and sent on peace keeping duties in Bosnia, under the flag of the United Nations.
They are briefed on their role and rules of engagement which include not getting involved in the fighting and being able to help only civilians who have been injured by the conflict. These are quickly called in to question when our men are prevented from stopping a village being torched or helping people who will be hurt, but aren’t hurt just yet.
The tentative agreement that allows them access to the country is always under threat and the men are forced to surrender rescued civilians to the kill squads lest the warlords get upset. The men who are chirpy at first soon get numbed by the horrors of war and the impotent situation in which they find themselves. When one of their number is killed by a sniper some seek revenge, other solace in the arms of women who aren’t their fiancées.
The horror continue apace with people crucified and butchered like cattle. As the mens’ tour of duty ends they have to confront what they have experienced and try to forge normal lives at home. With nerves shredded, relationships betrayed and fallen comrades all in the mix can life ever return to normal?
This film was originally made for TV but has been converted into a single film with a hefty near 3 hour run time. It may seem a big ask to watch 3 hours of atrocities but like ‘Welcome to Sarajevo’ (See No.14) I found it really absorbing and really terrifying. The barbarism of the people was shocking and it was as if no lessons were learned at all from World War 2. The events are seemingly all brought from first hand accounts and it’s easy to see how they could affect the soldiers in the manners shown.
Although a TV production the film does have good values and a stellar cast that includes Mr Fantastic himself Ioan Gruffudd and the ginger one out of ‘Band of Brothers’. As the war was pretty recent at the time of filming the locations, including the torched villages, are real and the uniforms and equipment all seemed authentic to me.
The drama wrought from characters who we have seen slowly develop is excellent and it was interesting to see how the differing ranks and social classes reacted to the same event. I’m not sure there was much of a message beyond ‘war is hell’ but I don’t think the film ever intended to preach. With events as horrific and unimaginable as those shown here you don’t need much dramatic licence to keep the viewer engrossed. It was probably be fair to call the film a drama documentary and hopefully it’ll help stop genocides from ever happening again. Until the next one, if history teaches us anything.
Best Bit : Manchester United fan denied lift by Scousers
‘W’ Rating : 19/23