In The Land Of Blood and Honey Review
By Bret Dorman
Ah yes, In The Land Of Blood and Honey, that war/rape movie directed by one of the biggest home-wrecking tabloid stars ever. I can’t wait for this movie to treat war and rape as a melodramatic self-important “Oh I’m from Hollywood and I’m so righteous and good” subject so I can blast Angelina Jolie for being a stupid celebrity with tons of money and kids!
Oh wait… what’s that? It’s actually not that bad? Darn…
Story: Ajla (Zara Marjanovic) is a Muslim lady and Danijel (Goran Kostic) is a Serbian Soldier. For some reason the groups don’t like each other even though the two characters secretly do. This makes things awkward when normal relationship arguments turn into political and philosophical debates over raping and pillaging. Also, the movie is subtitled.
So here’s the thing when it comes to rape… and I know this will be a weird thing to say and some people might think I am a ‘bad person’ but I hope they don’t… I can understand why certain people do it. I understand it by seeing where they are coming from. This doesn’t mean I think they are right to do it nor would I ever do it, but simply saying “It’s a bad thing and people shouldn’t do it” doesn’t stop the people who are doing it from doing it. In order to help these people ‘get better’ (if that’s a thing? Which is a different conversation entirely?) we need to understand it from their point of view.
Having said that… I can understand how one person could do it in a self-contained manner. I do not understand how an army could require and encourage soldiers to do it and all the soldiers comply. Rape seems like a very specific sexual fetish of sorts, not something a group would do because they are simply allowed or even more perversely, ordered. It also seems weird that if you hate a group of people so much, you would even want to have something as intimate as sexual intercourse with them, although maybe they don’t see it that way? Here, they use it more like a weird morale booster for the troops and morale buster for the enemy.
This is the essential problem/point of a movie like In The Land Of Blood and Honey. 1) People will always have conflicting opinions on everything down to the most minutia of details and 2) It doesn’t matter how good or bad your movie is, if it is about war/rape, the topic of war/rape overshadows the actual film making. This movie takes the normal coincidental musts of a story to make its point. Sure Danijel happens to be in charge of the captured group of women Ajla happens to be a part of and they happen to restart their romance. The plot of the movie is Shakespearean but not for the sake of drama, for the sake of politics.
The biggest flaw is in the romance itself. I can see why Ajla would be romantic with Danijel, better to attempt to make love with someone you once went on a date with than be raped multiple times by strangers, but it’s still unclear why she starts an actual romance. Especially when he says things like “I don’t know why you’re mad at me” while his soldiers are out killing innocent people, including women and children.
I heard or read somewhere that Angelina Jolie was just supposed to produce this film, but things fell through with a director so she stepped in last minute. I think she does just fine and accomplishes what she needs to through what the camera shows and not particularly finding a flashy or unique way of showing it. A lot of times a rape or naked women will be shown with an unblinking or unwavering camera. Its not pretty nor is it supposed to be. In a sense I think it’s pretty brave of Jolie to attach her name so prominently to this kind of subject material.
In Conclusion, In The Land Of Blood and Honey is a fine film about war and loss of humanity that uses certain plot devices to further its own point. The acting and direction all around are good. The only thing I have a question about, its what is Jolie ulterior motive, if she has one? If her point is to show a fine film about war and loss of humanity then she did it! Great Job! If she is trying to make a political statement (the end titles suggest that America should have intervened sooner and that the War Crimes committed during the Bosnian War should never happen again) then I think she should have chosen a more current, up-to-date conflict… one where we could be doing more to stop atrocious acts against innocent people from happening.
Final Grade: B-