Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Angelina Jolie's "In the Land of Blood and Honey" is brutal

In the Land of Blood and Honey” is indeed a hard and brutal film to watch.  New director Angelina Jolie pulls no punches in conveying to us the horror of the violence in Bosnia in the early 1990s, and provides us with some explanation. After the Communists left and Yugoslavia broke apart, the ethnic factions and jealousies exploded.  The atrocities in the film are comparable to those of the Nazis.
The story is a “love story” of sorts, across factions (like Crosby’s 1970s novel “An Affair of Strangers”).  Danijel, a Serbian cop and soldier (Goran Kostic) sees Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim.  The relationship will indeed be challenged by the circumstances, and to say too much more would spoil things.  But the conflict within Danijel is of an existential nature.

Life is indeed cheap as atrocities are carried out against civilians, especially women.  Among the men, loyalties are tested in simple ways, with sudden horrific consequences for slipups.

This is, after all, a story about tribalism.  In the film, the Serbs say they resent subservience to the interest of Muslims.  I recall a Time Magazine cover in 1993 titled "Bosnia", at a time when, with public attention on gays in the military and Waco (the early days of Clinton), very few people understood what was going on. 

Much of the film was shot on location in Sarajevo, which still looks ragged. Much of it is in winter, and there seems to be plenty of snow. 

I saw this Monday night in the Landmark E Street in Washington DC and it was well attended.

The link is here

The film was produced by GK films (a major British producer that often works with Paramount) and distributed by Film District (“Drive”).  Jolie is also listed as a producer. 

In 2001, there was a similarly titled film "Milk and Honey" produced by Joe Maggio, about a NYC man deteriorating in a series of relationships.  

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