This piece of writing won the Best Movie Review for the Drac Movie Festival
"I am always wary of watching an Oscar nominated movie or reading a Booker prize nominated book. They seem to be meant for intellectuals of a higher level, packed with themes I don’t comprehend and characters I don’t understand. Hence, on the second night of the DRACULA movie festival, I hoped to watch a simple Tamil movie. A movie I had watched 3 times before, a movie that I knew would not disappoint me. A common man’s movie. But due to some “technical” difficulties they screened No Man’s Land instead. And I am glad they did.
No Man’s Land is a fantastically written movie that goes beyond boundaries, languages and cultures. Based on the incidents of one single day, the movie has no excuses to digress from its main story and characters. Two soldiers of opposing countries at war, Serbia and Bosnia, are stuck in a trench, situated beyond both boundaries, in no man’s land. Initially each is out to blame the other and ensure his survival, but soon they realize that it is essential that they work together to get out of the place, alive. Complicating the situation is a third soldier, who survived a shooting spree only to lie alive on a mine, that stays unexploded till he moves away. The movie depicts the impracticality of human behaviour when saving three men takes a backseat to bureaucracy, mistrust and self-created enmity.
The UN gets involved in the crisis after a sergeant uses a British pressperson to initiate critical media glare on the UN. But their men are unable to defuse the mine under the wounded soldier. The other two who do make it out of the trench, let their emotions take over their mind and get fatally shot in the process. The movie ends as strongly as it began. The problem still unresolved, a man still stuck in the trench and the hostility set to continue the next day.
The futility of the war is stark in the background throughout the movie. Perhaps, the scene that sets the tone for rest of the movie is the one with the first two soldiers arguing about which side initiated the war, each blaming the other, while their armies are firing overhead. The reluctance to befriend each other, even in the face of death makes the viewer truly feel for them. The French UN soldier is helpless, yet eager to help and makes us question the necessity of red tape even in such dire situations. Yet, the show stealer is the third soldier, lying down. Even though he neither moves nor talks a lot, he depicts the message of the movie powerfully.
What sets this movie apart is the steady tone of humour, that makes it unnecessary for us to understand the language or even the background of the situation to enjoy the movie. Director Danis Tanovic deserves a big hand for delivering this undeniable classic. I believe that it deserved the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2001, above Lagaan, for not only conveying a vital message, but for remaining a common man’s movie."