Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

In the Land of Blood and Honey


Remember the Bosnian War? Waged in the country formerly known as Yugoslavia, which eventually broke into Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and probably several other Balkan republics I’m forgetting. Most of all there was Serbia. Although there were atrocities committed by all sides, Serbia was the unquestioned champion. At least 7,000 bodies in mass graves. Around 50,000 women interned and raped repeatedly as a tactic of war. Using women and children as human shields in firefights. A new term for genocide: “Ethnic cleansing.” The list goes on and on.

I can hardly tell you how much I hated this movie, set in the ruins of Sarajevo. It is supposed to be a love story, I guess, between Ajla, a Muslim woman (Bosnian Muslims apparently are not too observant; The women don’t cover their heads, and I never heard a call to prayer or saw a prayer rug) and Danijel, a Serbian soldier. Perhaps I was supposed to feel sympathy for them. But I didn’t like her one little bit, and I fucking hated him. I kept hoping that she wasn’t really in love with the piece of shit, I hoped she was keeping company with him so she could find out things to pass on to the opposition or eventually gut him with a rusty spoon, but by the end I had to conclude she was actually in love. I don’t condemn her, necessarily, for sleeping with the devil. You do what you need to do to get by. But after what she had seen, after what had been done to her (and I won’t even get into that too deeply, but it was awful) the idea that she could love this mass murdering rapist was far too much for me to swallow.

And what about him? In some ways he was even worse than his raping and pillaging men. He could wrinkle his prissy nose at the stuff his men were doing, but do absolutely nothing to stop it, except to pick out his lover and make her his protected whore. When one of his men violates her, his property, he kills the man without compunction. There is a well-known principle in military organizations: You are responsible for the things those under your command do. And he didn’t do shit to stop it, ever.

Okay, that’s enough. I feel sick even writing about this totally wrong-headed movie written, produced, and directed by Angelina Jolie. What the fuck was she thinking?