By Le Anne Lindsay
I saw the Philadelphia Film Society screening of In the Land of Blood and Honey more than a week ago, yet I kept putting off writing my commentary. Why? Because I have a hard and fast rule when it comes to movie/film genres – I don’t see war movies! I’ve never seen Bridge Over River Kwai, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, The Hurt Locker etc… The senselessness of men (and women) in battle is just something I don’t care to watch. However, I made an exception with this film because I, like most who follow Hollywood, am fascinated with Angelina Jolie – as a mother, an actress, an activist, a “wife” to Brad, and now as a writer/director.
For anyone unfamiliar with the film, here’s a snip-it synopsis:
Set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War that tore the Balkan region apart in the 1990s, In the Land of Blood and Honey tells the story of Danijel (Goran Kosti) and Ajla (Zana Marjanovi), two Bosnians from different sides of a brutal ethnic conflict. Danijel, a Bosnian Serb police officer, and Ajla, a Bosnian Muslim artist, are together before the war, but their relationship is changed as violence engulfs the country.
We are able to digest the conflict through the love story. However, Angelina’s main objective in making the film was to bring light to the brutality and unthinkable crimes against women that so often go on without intercession, as well as her love for this part of the world (Bosnia/Sarajevo). Genocide is such an evil threat that can take hold more readily than would seem possible. This was a country where Serbs, Croatians and Muslims all lived peaceably, inter-married and thought of themselves as one nation. Then, in the blink of an eye, politics can change people’s hearts and heads. Rape and massacre soon replaced kindness and trust. It’s not dissimilar to another recent film – Kinyarwanda (guess I did make another war movie exception) where Tutsi and Hutu’s destroyed one another out of what seemed like just a notion that they were different and enemies.
In terms of Angelina’s directing style, I’m glad that she just shot it straight, clean and authentic. She didn’t try to be an auteur — no gimmicks, nothing vague or highbrow. And as a side note: each scene was shot twice; once in English and another in the language of the region, creating two versions of the film. Coincidentally, right before I sat down to write this post, I check my emails and found an invitation from PartnersHubLive who were about to host a live chat with Angelina Jolie and one of the actresses from the film, Vanessa Glodjonbsp; It was excellent! Angelina is so open and articulate. They discuss so much, from her writing/directing process, to her breakdown and insecurity in taking on the task of telling a story that is not her own. Even her son Maddox surprises her by tweeting a question. You can watch the taped version on facebook – Angelina Q&A
In the Land of Blood and Honey has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best foreign language film. Be sure to watch The Hollywood Foreign Press Association Awards on Sunday January 15th and come back to Tinsel & Tine for my annual Golden Globe recap post on Monday!
Le Anne Lindsay is a PFS Blog contributor. To read more of her work, visit Tinsel & Tine.
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