96 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
I was invited to see this film back in July. At the time it was a secret screening. They wouldn't tell us the name of the movie, let alone who directed it. When I find out later it was directed by Angelina Jolie , I was impressed.
She did a great job capturing the atrocities of war and the lowest depths of humanity here. The movie basically shows us the events leading to, during, and after the Bosnian war from the perspective of a Serb and a Bosnian who as it so happens are lovers.
The lovers are Ajla and Danijel both excellently played by Goran Kostic and Zana Marjanovic . At first Danijel is very hesitant about carrying his orders as a Serb soldier. At first, but this doesn't last long.
He either carries out or orders other members of his team to carry some barbaric actions on the Bosnian civilians they find from either rape, torture, to eventual death.
When you see what happens you are going instantly think back to the Nazi's and what they did to Jews in the name of ethnic cleansing.
Eventually, we see through Danijel's lead, genocide being committed at every turn. Ajla is captured, but she is treated like royalty (again at first) with no one else being able to touch or come near here except Danijel.
This love story though has no happy ending as Ajla sees Danijel for what he is, not an unwilling participant in the war, but an active and willing agitator in one of the most chronicled bloodbaths recorded in Europe.
"In the land of Blood and Honey" is a superb war movie showing the type of atrocities that the Serbs were accused off while the United Nations and United States did nothing to stop it until the end.
Angelina Jolie's second directorial debut is impressive. No shot is ever wasted, every shot and scene sets up something very important. The actors are all excellent.
This could easily get several Academy nominations come Oscar time.
All in war a very brutal, but realistic depiction of another bloody war in history.
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY is stirring a lot of controversy, both bad and good. This is actress Angelina Jolie's first outing as writer/director of a film and for many reasons she deserves applause for tackling such a subject as the Balkan War from 1992 - 1995. Unless the viewer has studied the conditions in the once Yugoslavia, a bit of history may help the view to understand the conflict. `In 1992, conflict engulfed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war was predominantly a territorial conflict between local Bosniaks and Croats backed by Zagreb, and Serbs backed by the Yugoslav People's Army and Serbia. The Yugoslav armed forces had disintegrated into a largely Serb-dominated military force. Opposed to the Bosnian-majority led government's agenda for independence, and along with other armed nationalist Serb militant forces, the JNA attempted to prevent Bosnian citizens from voting in the 1992 referendum on independence. This did not succeed in persuading people not to vote and instead the intimidating atmosphere combined with a Serb boycott of the vote resulted in a resounding 99% vote in support for independence. On 19 June 1992, the war in Bosnia broke out. The conflict, typified by the siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica, was by far the bloodiest and most widely covered of the Yugoslav wars. Bosnia's Serb faction led by ultra-nationalist Radovan Karadzi' promised independence for all Serb areas of Bosnia from the majority-Bosniak government of Bosnia. To link the disjointed parts of territories populated by Serbs and areas claimed by Serbs, Karadzic pursued an agenda of systematic ethnic cleansing primarily against Bosnians through genocide and forced removal of Bosniak populations. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States reported in April 1995 that 90 percent of all the atrocities in the Yugoslav wars up to that point had been committed by Serb militants. Most of these atrocities occurred in Bosnia. In 1994 the US brokered peace between Croatian forces and the Bosnian Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the successful Flash and Storm operations, the Croatian Army and the combined Bosnian and Croat forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted an operation codenamed Operation Maestral to push back Bosnian Serb military gains.Together with NATO air strikes on the Bosnian Serbs, the successes on the ground put pressure on the Serbs to come to the negotiating table. The fighting in Croatia ended in mid-1995, after Operation Flash and Operation Storm. At the end of these operations, Croatia had managed to reclaim all of its territory except the UNPA Sector East bordering Serbia, however most of the Serbian population in these areas had become refugees, and these operations have led to war crimes indictments by the ICTY against elements of the Croat military leadership. The areas uncaptured by the Croations forces in "Sector East" came under UN administration (UNTAES), and were reintegrated to Croatia in 1998. The war ended with the signing of the Dayton Agreement on the 14 December 1995, with the formation of Republika Srpska as an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina being the resolution for Bosnian Serb demands.
From this background Jolie has fashioned a story that relates a strange love story that is difficult to define. Danijel (Goran Kosti') and Ajla (Zana Marjanovi'), rare in a dance hallwhen the explosive war begins Danijel is a a Serbian policeman, becomes a captain, and Muslim artist Ajla becomes a captive. When Ajla ends up in Danijel's camp, he attempts to protect her without attracting undue attention, so she serves the men meals, but the threat of rape is ever present. Danijel's father Nebojsa (Rade erbedzija) is the general of the Serbs and discovers that his son is hiding a Muslim woman, discovers her, has her tortured, and condemns his son. Lack of trust between the `lovers' leads to a tumultuous end.
The script is slow, the movement slower, but the impact of the bestiality of war, once again based on religion, demonstrates how cruel people can become when it is Serbs against Muslims, even when the individuals are lovers. The point is made, perhaps too repeatedly, but Jolie has assembled a fine cast and manages to give us as raw a picture of war and the camps always associated with the captured ones as can be shown on the screen. It is a necessary subject to examine: t is not an easy film to watch. Why is it controversial? The answer lies in why is war controversial - who 'wins' when all lose? Grady Harp, February 12
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
An amazing writing/directorial debut by angelina jolie. The actor's were phenomenal(great choice in using local actors) and I applaud angelina on actually doing research and using facts in a situation which is so sensitive and which she got a lot of heat for. I applaud her for not backing down and the effects speak for themselves. A very real war movie, it doesn't baby you, if you're looking for a movie to baby you look elsewhere. It shows what these women have gone through and believe it or not I felt for both sides the muslims and the serbs maybe because I can step back and look at it objectively for what it was. The ending did shock me but I loved that it wasn't a hollywood ending, after all there are no hollywood endings in war and angelina jolie understands that. I look forward to her next directorial/writing effort, she's got the talent and we need more women in that field.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
I wasn't sure how this would turn out. I thought I would find it only ok, a decent film from a well meaning person. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a well made, engaging, and well crafted film. The storyline, two would be lovers a la Romeo and Juliet, only they start out on the same side so to speak, seemed hard to believe but the acting, directing, and pacing of the film makes it work. An 1hr and 40 min in I was beginning to think it should be wrapping up but that's a minor bit of criticism. If you didn't know who wrote or directed this film you would think it was from someone that has done this for years. There's a lot of strength in this film. From the lead actors to the supporting cast , they keep you engaged. Daniel and Aja want so desperately to leave the war behind and be a safe space for each other but they can't. There's never a moment of peace, real peace, and I so respect Jolie for not making this a HW film. I highly recommend it. It's one of the best film I've seen from 2011. It's a shame it didn't get as much awards love as it actually deserves.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2012
Angelina Jolie deserves some respect for choosing the Bosnian conflict as the subject of her directorial debut considering she could have easily settled for safer, more mainstream material, but as a writer/director she still has a long way to go and "In The Land Of Blood And Honey" stands as a heartfelt movie watered down by recycled melodrama. The sectarian conflicts which erupted after the shattering of Yugoslavia were already explored with greater power in the 1990s in films like "Savior" by Predrag Antonijevic and Milcho Manchevski's "Before The Rain," while those movies told strong stories with powerful cultural messages, Jolie's movie simply shows us the horrors of the conflict as background for a standard soap opera.
The film's storyline centers on a Muslim woman named Ajila (Zana Marjanovic) whose community is overrun by Christian militias led by Danijel (Goran Kostic). Eight months earlier they had already met at a cafe where a romantic dance floor moment was interrupted by the first bombs of the war. As soldiers go around looting and raping, Ajila finds herself taken captive with a group of women to a nearby base where Danijel decides to give her careful protection, this puts him at risk because his warlord father Nebojsa (Rade Serbedzija) is determined to wipe out all Muslims in a storm of ethnic hatred.
"In The Land Of Blood And Honey" proves Jolie has an eye for capturing memorable images and establishing a place, she knows how to use her camera. She also doesn't flinch away from the horrors of war and provides up close moments of terror and heartbreaking violence, with unflinching honesty she shows how rape is used as a weapon in conflict zones. But Jolie's canvas remains dry, she SHOWS us the horror of the Bosnian war but never digs deep enough into her characters, their backgrounds and the dimensions of their experiences. It's as if the war's grisly details are presented in the style of a high school essay and the characters are no more than vessels for Jolie's overall, general idealization of love surpassing ethnic boundaries (although the ending might seems to leave hope behind). We know what Jolie WANTS to say (the message itself is admirable) but she fumbles in the delivery. For example Ajila and Danijel never have a conversation that feels real, they never have a moment where you really sense or feel the soul-twisting political/religious/social dilemmas they now face, they simply lock up in a room, have intense sex and move along to the basic schemes of a potboiler. Some scenes seem to end abruptly when they should be allowed to play out more, some transitions feel like leaps, leaving confusing or sometimes vague plot holes in the story. The love story itself doesn't develop with a convincing rhythm or sense of real emotional growth.
The conflict in the former Yugoslavia is indeed an important event in recent world history, the kind of violence and sectarian terror unleashed there can be seen recycled in a place like Syria today. But of course most Americans have no idea about the events depicted in the film or could care less, so in that sense Jolie's bravery should be commended. But she also suffers from the kind of typical, postmodern attitude dominant in the arts these days except for a few veterans like Oliver Stone. Basically her film laments at how awful the Bosnian war was and has a general critique here of religious division lines, but these ideas have been expressed much better in other films, here she has little to really SAY about the whole history of the region and the conflict. It's as if Jolie wants to play that typical game of exploring a political issue without being political. A few characters say a few lines about Communism's collapse and how it opened the door to sectarian divisions (under Tito ethnic and religious differences were rightfully cast aside as official state policy), but Jolie's views are somewhat vague, she's obviously against war in general, but she never presents any sort of bold political stance. The UN, NATO are almost cartoonish background characters. Maybe it just isn't fashionable in these times to clearly make a political statement.
While this film isn't a complete success, it still announces Angelina Jolie as a director with promise, maybe her next effort will be more focused and tighter. It's refreshing to see a celebrity of her calibre with historical, geopolitical interests and it would be a shame to see her fall back into "mainstream" genre filmmaking (like Kenneth Branagh with "Thor"). "In The Land Of Blood And Honey" is a decent start, let's hope she gives it another try sooner rather than later.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
Let me focus the vibrant sun on this great cinema title; it was truly beautiful with the right emotions and twists that leaves you breathless and in tears at moments in the story. I must say that this movie was magnificent; I was shockingly surprised at how good Miss Angelina directed this and brought so much life to this story. She goes back in time and touches a topic, a subject that many are or were scared to do, she did something so brave--she lit the truth on fire. Yes, things in the movie have happened in Bosnia, while outsiders watched and did nothing. This was not something that lasted few months, this has lasted for over three years and yet people did nothing to help the innocent, oh surely blood did splatter on honey. The question surrounding this topic is why not? Did the people of the world view them as less human, did religion play a part of this decision, we will never know, but we will be left wondering as to why no one had stepped in for a long time. Can you imagine being raped for months, painfully by hundreds of men, while the world just shrugged their shoulders? How would it feel if the world only saw you as "nothing", not important at all to be saved even when you cried nonstop and screamed the loudest? Why did the children have to killed, what did they do, but years went on as many were killed, painfully, throats slashed, while at times mothers had to watch. How could anyone not understand this evil, how could anyone not understand their pain, how could anyone did not want to lend a hand? This movie will leave you with questions, but it also lets you understand as to things that happened. Don't let anyone tell you, don't let anyone fool you, here or anywhere, that this has never happened, it did. This movie is very dark and will leave you with moments of sadness, moments of tears, moments of your heart racing, and moments when your lungs can not open anymore, do to what you see in front of your screen, but it is ok, continue, and learn what happened. Overall, I suggest that everyone with a heart watch this, because you will learn a thing or two about yourself, after watching you will be a different person.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2013
Written, directed and co-produced by Angelina Jolie, "In the Land of Blood and Honey" is a romance set against the Bosnian War. Her directorial debut deals with such serious issues as sexual violence during the war, a topic addressed also in films like "Grbavica: the Land of My Dreams" in 2006, but somehow Jolie as filmmaker decided that the film needs a love story.
The film's love story centers on Danijel (Goran Kostic), a son of a strict Serbian general, and Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim painter. The war begins and the ex-lovers meet each other again at a prisoner camp, one as commander, the other as prisoner.
I am no expert on weaponry and artillery, so I have nothing to say about the accuracies or inaccuracies of the uniforms and weapons. Some may take issue on the film's political leanings, which I will not discuss here, either.
My main complaint is about the uneven narrative style that wavers uncomfortably between grim and sentimental. While Jolie and photographer Dean Semler ("Dances with Wolves") successfully creates the oppressive atmosphere of the war-torn country, the serious message of the film is underdmined by the thin and underdeveloped love story.
Though clearly made with all good intention, "In the Land of Blood and Honey" needs more credible character developments and skilled storytelling.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2014
This is not an easy movie to watch, but Miss Jolie tells a story that really happened and, thus, needs to be told--to certain audiences. Her real-life work with refugees as a goodwill ambassador adds to the content of the movie and the viewer's appreciation of that content. She does not sugarcoat the atrocities that often accompany war, such as rape, but in fact, shows their devastating effects. She also examines the layers of emotion one feels about his enemies, particularly in wartime.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
This is without any doubt best movie made about Bosnia in years. Through love story Jolie is able to show atrocities and crimes commited by Serb forces during the war.P.S.One more great movie is on its way .Name of the movie is
AS IF I AM NOT THERE.Irish movie about fate of Bosnian women .
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I've never been in a war zone and can only imagine the complexities of emotions that must go on, but I think that The Land of Blood and Honey captures it. I love that it didn't get sentimental, political or glamorous. The people looked like real people. The atrocities are probably representative of what really happens in war. I am sure that neighbors became enemies overnight and there were many people with conflicting feelings of loyalty vs. morality. Films like this and The Stoning of Soraya M need to be made and shown. I am glad Jolie had the courage to do it and do it well.