interesting movie could have been much better; nevertheless, it is worth
seeing. Its plot centers on the war
crime trial of a Bosnian Serb general who allegedly committed acts of ethnic cleansing against the Bosnian
Muslims during the civil war in Bosnia (part
of the old Yugoslav Tito-run Balkan state which was settled during the Clinton
General Goran Duric (Drazen Kuhn) appears at the outset of the film, three years before the trial that the film focuses on, in hiding in Spain with his wife and children. He is soon captured and sent to the Hague for trial before an International War Crimes Court which is delayed for three years. His prosecutor, Hannah Maynard (Kerry Fox), is dedicated to seeing justice served. Her major witness is a young Muslim man, Alen Hajdarevic (Kresimir Mikic), whose credibility is destroyed on the witness stand when he is shown to be lying about his placement of the defendant at the scene of the alleged war crime.
Hannah must find a new witness in a week, and so she flies to Bosnia. She interviews Alen's sister, Mira Arendt (Anamaria Marinca), who was raped with other Muslim women in a hotel prison the general kept for a gang-rape operation. Mira, though initially reluctant, becomes the new witness.
In the meantime, the politics of the Balkans have changed. The powers that be do not want to enlarge the charges against the general, because Bosnia is now seeking membership in the European Union. The less controversy the better.
The acting is excellent, but the story could have used more action as well as flashbacks to the scenes of ethnic cleansing. While watching the film, I thought back to the Serbian massacre of the 6,000 young Muslim men at Srebrenica when the UN troops failed to protect the Muslims, who had been told they would be protected by the UN forces. This is not a docudrama involving real people, but the fiction is reminiscent of real war crimes and crimes against humanity committed throughout the world. In this case it is Bosnia, but similar atrocities occurred in Rwanda, Burundi and elsewhere. Keeping the depravity that humans are capable of in our consciousness--remember the Holocaust in Germany--is sufficient reason to see this movie. (In German, English, Bosnian and Serbian, with English subtitles.)
HS said: "Seeing this film was a valuable experience.I learned about the trials in the Hague, and the political influences to which they are subject. You don't know exactly how much of the movie is true and how much is made up. But you get the feeling that it mostly happened closely enough to the way it was depicted.
The examples of cruelty and brutality toward the innocent shows what can happen, in Europe as well as Africa, when people are led into hostilities. The technology improves, with new weapons and cell phones, but the combination of power and evil remains the same. Sadly, evil and nuclear weapons are coming closer together."
Photo Credit: Flickr User armigeress