Sunday Movie Sunday: ‘No Man’s Land’ (2001)

No Mans Land 3

For what it’s worth I started watching this last night. It was about midnight, I was bored as hell and started a Tumblr for christs’ sake. It started to pour outside and I had all the windows open in the house. It’s that type of late night atmosphere that makes me want to dim the lights, get cozy with my cat and watch a foreign film about war.


Source: Wikipedia and my commentary italicized

No Man’s Land (Bosnian: Ničija zemlja) is a 2001 war drama that is set in the midst of the Bosnian war. The film is a parable and marked the debut of Bosnian writer and director Danis Tanović. It is a co-production among companies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy, France, Belgium and the UK. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001.

[Plot] Sans Spoiler:

Two wounded soldiers, a Bosniak (Čiki, portrayed by Branko Đurić) and a Bosnian Serb (Nino, portrayed by Rene Bitorajac) are caught between their lines in the no man’s land, in a struggle for survival. The two soldiers confront each other in a trench, where they wait for dark. They trade insults and even find some common ground. Confounding the situation is another wounded Bosniak soldier (Cera, portrayed by Filip Šovagović) who wakes from unconsciousness. A land mine had been buried beneath him by the Bosnian Serbs; should he make any move, it would be fatal.


That basically tells you nothing about this film. Trying not to spoil it here, but the uh, spoils of war can make for crazy situations. After a fog engulfed gun battle, sniper fire, and attempts to rescue comrades, two soldiers from opposing sides find themselves trapped together in a compromised bunker in ‘no man’s land’; a military term for that spot between two fronts where more than likely you should not go unless you can’t avoid it. Like these two idiots. 

[clip] | ‘You started it.’

It doesn’t matter which side does in this particular story but let’s say side ‘A’ went to rescue the fellow and side ‘B’ was just sorta trolling around in the bunker booby trapping dead bodies with landmines. This way, when side ‘A’ comes to check on the injured, they die too. Hilarious. Turns out that homeboy underneath the landmine is not quite dead yet. Seems like it starts out as a pretty cool catch-22 type deal, where the resolution of a wartime allegory happens just between these three characters. Thinking maybe a Mexican standoff and possibly one or two exploding soldiers to wrap things up. As cool as that might be, this film gets way better. As in the press gets word of the situation, the UN gets called in, and all of sudden the rest of the film is basically in English and French, because that’s the only way the ensemble of characters that join the story can communicate with each other. 

[another clip]

A French sergeant (Marchand, portrayed by Georges Siatidis), of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), gets involved in effort to help the three trapped soldiers, despite initial orders to the contrary by high command. UNPROFOR’s mission in Bosnia was to guard the humanitarian aid convoys, to remain neutral and act as a mere bystander. Luckily, an English reporter arrives on scene, bringing media pressure to bear that moves the United Nations high command to swing into action to try to save the soldiers. Meanwhile, it is found that the mine cannot be defused. The UNPROFOR high command tries to save face: they lie, saying that Cera has been saved and they leave the area, along with the reporters and everyone else.

To put it lightly:

“This man is already dead” – The Bomb Technician.

I think we all get that war is a completely miserable and horrific part living on this planet. Sometimes, even the press, the UN, and and your own fellow comrade will just leave a brother behind and hope for the best. 

[WTF] Spoiler:

In reality, Cera is left alone and desolate in the trenches, still immobilized by the mine. Meanwhile, the UNPROFOR commander has arranged false information to be passed to both Bosnian and Serb troops, to make them believe their enemies will be trying to reoccupy the trench at night (which each side would try to counter with an artillery barrage that presumably will kill Cera and obliterate the evidence).

And that’s that. I honestly forgot how fucked up the ending is, but it really works. Some of the best shots in this flick are just just a man looking up into the sky, silent, unsure that if he farts he may be blown to bits. I do feel a little ill, but it’s genuinely a fantastic story that leaves you completely bewildered about politics and war. Probably the only way we can be.

Score for ‘No Man’s Land’ [10/10] because war sucks.


One thought on “Sunday Movie Sunday: ‘No Man’s Land’ (2001)

  1. Thank you very much for this eye opening commentary. Sometimes comfortable and peaceful living in America make us naive to the challenges other people in the world live with daily.

    Love, Mom


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