“In the Land of Blood and Honey”

Courtesy of FilmDistrict

A man and a woman are dancing. It is obvious that they are hopelessly in love. There is a difference between the two, but it doesn’t matter to them. That is, until a bomb goes off, changing man and woman into Serbian and Bosnian. And in 1992 Bosnia, these lovers are thrust into war.

Upon first hearing of the movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” two thoughts came to mind, and they were both negative.

First, there could not possibly be another war film. All war films are virtually the same, unless the topic or perspective changes. While some war films are fantastic, they are usually ones that contain battle sequences of epic proportions and one-liners that are quoted for years after. Other films in the genre that don’t usually become very boring rather quickly.

Second, any movie written and directed by Angelina Jolie has to be terrible. Something written by the woman we know best for a role in which she parades around in a tight shirt and hangs from wires or for her relationship with Brad Pitt and hoard of children could not possibly write a movie worth seeing. But I was wrong.

This movie is not for the faint of heart. Sadly, by its end, I was no longer fazed by the heinous and abundant rape of female prisoners of war. Within the movie’s first 10 minutes, female prisoners are raped in front of the other prisoners. Every prisoner is systematically raped upon entering the camps, and thereafter, it becomes as normal as paying the cashier at the grocery store. Horrific, but that is the reality of the war. Angelina Jolie brings to light the greatly untold tale of the recent Bosnian War.

Most war movies have many problems, even if they are good: they consider only the actual battle, have no plot or have the same plot, are fairly inaccurate or are quite biased. Jolie, however, perfects the art of singing for the unsung. Jolie spent over a year researching the war and its effects to ensure authenticity. From this, she was able to understand all sides of the war and chose to include all perspectives. Jolie shows the perspective of not only of the victims, but of the captors. And in these moments, she does not make them the villains. Instead, they are treated simply as normal characters, and their stories are explained.

Through a love story, Jolie connects us to the characters and therefore causes us to be more receptive to the emotions of the characters, which prove so pivotal to a full understanding of the war.

In depicting such atrocities, Jolie’s directing is equally impeccable. I forgot that I was watching a movie until the credits rolled. After two hours, I still wanted more and was thoroughly disappointed to see it end. Each character is genuine, and the camera angles unexpected. Despite it not being filmed in a documentary style, I found myself completely immersed in the story, thanks to the impeccable depth of the characters, I almost needed a minute to check back into reality.

After watching this movie, I felt moved. Not angry or upset, as most war movies compel, but enlightened. This is a must-see that will undoubtedly be followed by deep conversation and hope that Jolie will again create something this outstanding. She may have a sublime acting career, but perhaps now a career in writing and directing will prove just as grand.

Rating: 5 out of 5