This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Although the United States and the United Nations had troops involved, I have a feeling that a good many Americans never worked up much interest in the Bosnian war. There were too many complexities for a soundbite. Was it Serbs against Croatians? Christians against Muslims? A free for all? Wasn't it all once Yugoslavia? Which side were we on? Or did we simply want all of them to stop fighting?
I hope I don't sound snarky. The indifference of many moviegoers to world events affects the box office for any movie about such conflicts. It took a long struggle to get audiences worked up over "The Hurt Locker," and even then, the key words were "bomb disposal" and not "Iraq." Although we've spent a fortune in blood and resources in the Middle East, Hollywood has found audience indifference to events there. Even more so in the former Yugoslavia. When I mention Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, how many nations have I named? Are they in fact nations? Here's a curveball: Where are the Balkans?
Given this reality, Angelina Jolie deserves admiration for making "In the Land of Blood and Honey" as her first filmmaking project. She wrote it, directed it and cares deeply about its issues, having spent a lot of time on the ground there, unlike so many movie stars who only turn up for the photo op. Jolie has courage and convictions.
Her film is about a Serbian army officer named Danijel (Goran Kostic) and a Muslim artist named Ajla (Zana Marjanovic). Presumably Ajla is Serbian, too, but as a Muslim, she's hated by Christian Serbs. As part of the old Yugoslavia, the movie explains, all races and religions lived together in peace; a convenience of communism was that it dismissed such matters as bourgeois distractions from the class war. Now Marxism has fallen and humanity has returned to its familiar habit of hating thy neighbor.