Friday, November 11, 2005

No Man's Land * * *

No Man's Land was the 2001 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, and it won a long, long list of awards in Europe also. It's the story of three soldiers that end up trapped in a trench between enemy (in this case, Serbian and Bosnian) lines during the Serb-Bosnian war. Two soldiers are Bosnia and one is Serbian. The story is a bit like a play carried out in a trench. The two main characters are one of the Bosnians and the Serb (the other Bosnian is trapped on top of a mine). The plot follows the 'relationship' of the two soldiers as it evolves over the course of a day, from enemies, to begrudging cooperators, and then to hatred.

Most reviews I've read have focused on the film's message of the insanity and senselessness of war. However, to me, it was more about the perverseness and sheer arbitrary nature of hatred by individual soliders. Mere chance of parentage determines that one would end up on one side versus the other. Under other circumstances these two soldiers would have gotten along perfectly fine. It reminds me of the story about the German and English (I think) soldiers in WWI who were shooting at each other from two trench lines and somehow decided to take a break and have a soccer game together.

Compared to the other war film I saw recently, Downfall, I think No Man's Land is certainly a good film, but it didn't feel like a 'landmark film' like Downfall. Somehow, it didn't have the same 'Oh, wow' factor, for me. Also one of the differences to Downfall, is that this did feel like a film rather than like I was a 'fly on the wall' in the trench. The acting is excellent, and I can't put my finger on why I felt that way, but nonetheless, that is a difference from how I felt watching Downfall.

Rent it from Netflix