Remember how things were before the battles?
‘Before the war, the Republic of Bosnia – Herzegovina was part of one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse countries in Europe. Muslims, Serbs, and Croats lived together in harmony’ – Excerpt From In The Land of Blood and Honey (2011).
In her first directorial debut, Angelina Jolie‘s IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY (2011), is a poignant drama that tells the story of two people from very different backgrounds: Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), an artist and Muslim; and Danijel (Goran Kostic), a policeman and Serb. Differences did not divide them at the beginning of the film as Ajla nervously prepared herself for a date with Danijel. The two meet at a club and dance together in peaceable ardour as Danijel passionately caressed Ajla, whispering lovingly into her ear the two engrossed with each other–but only for a moment. War is coming. The club where they share their beginning intimate moments is bombed, instantly dividing their budding romance as they now must assume new roles as a prisoner and capture.
The Serbian army is quick to get to work in separating the men from their families only to gun then all down within earshot of their wives and children. The women picked over and separated from their remaining families and bused to a military encampment where they were they were sorted as cooks–and are disturbingly raped. It was at this point in the film that Ajla and Danijel were together again just before Aijla was nearly raped by one of the soldiers. Danijel is commander of the encampment–his father a Serbian General (Rade Serbedzija). Not only did Danijel somewhat vilify his shielding of Aijla as the “official artist” of the Serbian army and eventually his lover–but does he do this out love for Aijla; or was it because he selfishly wanted her all to himself as one of the spoils of war?
Mrs. Jolie brilliantly blends the violent realities of war and maintains focus on the individuals who are often reluctantly mentioned as its victims–the women. The only problem with the film is that it tends to become overly melodramatic with the going back and forth from the relationship between Danijel and Aijla; and the brutal reality of Bosnia – Herzegovina war. Is it to be a film of the realities of war–or its war romantics?
The film is truly a love story that has no happy ending. Immediately after the bombing of the club, the film brings you to the contradictions of two warring factions–Serbs and Muslims–to a lovingly passionate relationship involving a Serb and Muslim–or was it? You question whether or not Danijel really did not care for the war, and his father’s monologue provided potential reasoning why he should not protect Ajla, a Muslim, whom her forefathers did not show his forefathers the same compassion.
Never matter the insignificant rivalries between men who are purposeful in diving brothers and families for religious reasons, In the Land of Blood and Honey is a triumphant accomplishment in determining the true atrocities of religious hatred undermines the fundamental bonds of humanity. It is translated in every religious text, that all should love each other as they love their own.
Or is love another casualty of war?