In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)
Director: Angelina Jolie.
Writer: Angelina Jolie.
Producer: Angelina Jolie.
Starring: Zana Marjanovic (Ajla), Goran Kostic (Danijel), Rade Serbedzija (Nebojsa), Vanessa Glodjo (Lejla), Nikola Djuricko (Darko), Branko Djuric (Aleksandar), Fedja Stukan (Petar), Alma Terzic (Hana), Jelena Jovanova (Esma), Ermin Bravo (Mehmet), Boris Ler (Tarik), Goran Jevtic (Mitar), Ermin Sijamija (Vuc), Milos Timotijevic (Durja), Jasna Beri (Mejrema), Aleksandar Djurica (Marko), Dzana Pinjo (Nadja), Petar Vidovic (Boris), Faruk Pruti (Miralem), Dolya Gavanski (Maida), Tamas Hajdu (Nikola), Gábor Piroch (Man Who Throws Bombs), Irena Mulamuhic (Bosnian Woman Shot in Head), Margaréta Szabó (Hooker).
a Muslim woman raped by the Serbs plots her revenge
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"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. "
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1992. A pretty woman named Ajla is painting a self-portrait. Music is playing in the background and she starts to dance as she picks up her sister's baby to be her dance partner.
Her sisters comes out after having her hair washed and she thanks Ajla for helping her with the baby. Ajla replies: "That's why I came back here for."
Ajla gets dressed to go out on the town. She goes to a night club. She dances with her "boy friend", a policeman. All of a sudden a bomb goes off and people are killed or wounded. Ajla and her boyfriend are lucky enough to survive, although they have numerous cuts and bruises.
Four months later.
Ajla and her sister are awakened early by voices outside. The men from the buildings are being taken somewhere. The sisters are afraid and start packing their things in suit cases. A bus drives up and Serbian military men get out. They rush into the building to force everyone outside.
The men from Ajla's building are taken around a corner and murdered. The women start crying. Then the pretties women are selected out and put on a bus. Ajla is separated from her sister.
On the drive Ajla sees a man shot down on the street. They arrive at a barracks. Ajla's "boyfriend" Danijel is there at the barracks and he sees Ajla pass by with the other women from her building.
The women are lined up and their coats and purses are taken from them. A guard grabs one of the women and has intercourse with her while she is bend over a snow-covered table. The woman tries to resist but it's no use.
Ajla is the next woman to be subjected to rape. She is bent over the table. Danijel comes out just in time to save her. He says he will do this one. He asks her if she is hiding anything, she shakes her head no. He tells the guard that this one is done and leaves.
The women are put in a large rooms covered with mattresses for sleeping. There is already a large group of women who have been held prisoners here.
Ajla's sister and baby are back in their apartment, but the Serbs cut their electricity and water. Not knowing if her sister is even alive, she starts crying. A woman neighbor tries to calm the young woman and will help watch the baby.
The women prisoners have settled onto their mattresses. They look like they are in a stage of shock. Some of them cry. It's a sad scene.
Danijel talks with his father, a higher ranking officer. He can't believe that his son believes they are being too hard on their prisoners. He says Danijel doesn't understand that for 500 years the Serbs fought the Ottoman Turks and stopped them from conquering Europe. And they stood against the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. And they kicked Hitler's ass and won. One million Serbs were killed in WWII.
Danijel tells his father that the world will eventually intervene in this war of theirs. Dad doesn't believe it. He says they will watch, but they will do nothing. "So, get your numbers up and finish cleansing Serbia." He tells his son to make him a proud father.
At night the Serbs come into the women's room and grab a woman to be raped. Ajla cringes every time this happens for she may be next. And, in fact, the next woman grabbed is Ajla. She is taken to Danijel's room.
Ajla goes over to the bed and sits down. He asks her why does she just sit there? He says he is trying to talk with her. Danijel says: "I find this war very difficult to stomach." But, says he, his father is General Nebojsa Vukojevich, thinks very differently. Danijel himself is a captain.
Danijel tells her that he told the other men that Ajla is his property and they cannot touch her. She just tries to back farther away from him. He gets angry and tells her: "Get out!" She leaves.
A UN Red Cross ambulance is bazooked to pieces by a Serbian soldier. News of such incidents are broadcast to the world, but the western countries don't want to intervene in the conflict. They quote the American Secretary of State: "We don't have a dog in that fight."
Across Bosnia nearly 6,000 people have been killed and a million have been forced from their homes. The conflict began following the break-up of Tito's old Yugoslavia into various countries.
Ajla hears the news because she is being used as a food server to the soldiers at work.
At night a guard brings Ajla back to Danijel's room. He says he had a man in his sights today, but decided against shooting him. He thought of Ajla and what she might think. Then he wondered if Ajla had the chance, would she shoot him? She asks Danijel is he killed the man? No, is the answer.
Danijel tells his officers to be more careful about who they kill because the UN and the press might catch their kills on camera. One of the officers asks if now they are supposed to kiss the asses of the press? Why?
Ajla is brought again to Danijel. He thanks her for the dinner and her cleaning up after him. She says calmly: "You're welcome." He asks what was she doing before the war? She was a painter. She has a painting hanging on an art museum wall in Sarajevo.
In the mess hall some of men start harassing Ajla. They knock her down making her drop the dishes she is carrying. Then they throw other dishes on the floor and watch them break in front of her. Then the man sadist steps on her left hand. The men are watching Danijel's reaction. He shows no expression on his face, but as soon as he is alone with Ajla, he and she hug and he tries to comfort her.
Now the nature of the relationship changes and Ajla has sex with her captor. (some nudity) After sex Danijel tells her how to escape from the prison. He will help her by distracting the guard. In the bathroom she can crawl out a window. Then she can run into the woods nearby. He will not stop her.
Ajla asks Danijel: "Are we so terrible that we should be exterminated?" He says: "You're not." This answer shocks Ajla. She must be asking herself then all the other are terrible enough to be exterminated? Danije apologizes for the remark. He says it's complicated politics, "not murder". Ajla says it is murder. He says that's all the more reason for her to get out of her. He can't protect her forever.
Danijel tells the guard to go inside and get some coffee. He waits for Ajla's escape. But Ajla is out hanging up clothes with other women.
At night Ajla nurses one of the raped women. The woman says she will never be able to see her husband again. She says she wants to die.
Ajla's sister sneaks out of the apartment building and over to the pharmacy. She starts taking medicine and putting it into a large hand bag. A man running down the street with a bicycle, perhaps stolen, is shot dead.
Armed soldiers go into the apartment building and make everyone leave. A soldier tells them to sign a paper, pack their things and they will be evacuated tomorrow. A woman who has lived in the building for 30 years says she won't sign for she has no where else to go. As she keeps arguing, a soldier shoots her in the head.
Danijel tells Ajla that he is being transferred to Sarajevo and has to leave immediately. He tells her she must escape after dinner when the men will be drunk.
Ajla's sister makes it back to the building. Very bad news awaits her. The baby was tossed out the window and is dead. The neighbor woman tried everything she could to keep the baby quiet. The mother rushes down to grab her little son.
Danijel is now in Sarajevo. Serbian snipers in the hills above Sarajevo kill civilians whenever they spot them on the streets. He and men under him now replace the killers on the hills to kill more civilians down below in Sarajevo.
Ajla is trying to get out of the window in the bathroom. She jumps down into the snow outside and starts running as fast as she can. She is blindsided by a guard who runs into her and knocks her down. He then starts kicking her. She is a bloody mess when he finishes with her.
Ajla's sisters apartment is being evacuated. She is able to bury her baby in the ground at night. She and the neighbor lady have to take shelter with others who have been evacuated and now stay in a non-heated room.
The Serbs go to an art museum. Danijel finds the portrait done by Ajla hanging on the wall.
A partisan throws a bomb with a lit fuse and it explodes killing some Serbian soldiers. The partisan, in turn, is shot down.
Spring 1993. The women prisoners take hand towel baths in the big room. (some nudity) The guards come in and take a small group out, including Ajla. They are transported close to a building that the Serbs are currently trying to take from the enemy. The Serbs use the women as protective shields to move close to the building.
One of the women is hit twice and goes down and now the man behind her is killed. Molotov cocktails are thrown at the building, which forces the enemy out into the open, and they are shot down by the Serbs.
Ajla is back on her prisoner mattress. All the women are awakened and forced out onto the lawn. One of the women tells Ajla that she just can't take this anymore. Ajla tells her she is going to escape through the bathroom window and if she makes it, the woman will know how to do it at least.
The Serbs have some more willing women and have a little party. They bring in three older women prisoners and make them disrobe in front of the party goers. The women prisoners on the lawn have to see and/or hear the manic mood among the party goers.
Danijel gets into a truck to drive some place.
Ajla now raises her hand to volunteer to go serve the party revelers. She is taken to the bathroom first. She gets out of the window and makes a break for it. A guard tries to shoot her, but keeps missing.
She hides herself under a dead body found on a creek bed below a bridge. Someone comes to rifle through the uniforms of the dead looking for anything of value or use. As he approaches Ajla's position, she tells the man: "Don't shoot!" She is lucky this time for the man Tarik is a Muslim.
Tarik says that her sister is still alive. He takes her to an old abandoned factory building where her sister works on the assembly of ammunition for the cause. The sisters are very happy to see each other. The happiness, of course, is tempered by the loss of the baby.
Tarik and his group get some good meals when Italy drops off a boat load of ready to eat meals. The group enjoys the upgrade in the quality of their menu. One of the men says he saw Lejla's picture today. It was in the office of Danijel Vukojevich. Lejla asks why would this man have her picture in the main office? "He disgusts me. All of them. . . . You know what they say? That he became worse than his father." Ajla says nothing.
The group starts to think of a plan to assassinate Danijel Vukojevich. Ajla agrees to be part of the plan.
Tarik gets himself captured by the Serbs and now they are slapping him around. Tarik says he will now spy for the Serbs. He starts showing them the positions of the Bosnian army on a map. Tarik now takes a few Serbs over to where the Bosnian group meets. A Serbian soldier chases Ajla down and captures her.
They bring Ajla to a big room that is mostly empty except for a bed and bed frame, a chair and a table. At night Danijel comes in to see her. He tells her not to be shy of him.
In the morning he brings her breakfast. He even presents her with a fresh pear to eat. She asks him if she's a prisoner? He says she's not a prisoner, if she wants to be here.
The Serbs, including Danijel, are out fighting Bosnians. He uses a sniper rifle to kill a Bosnian sniper.
Ajla paints Danijel's portrait.
Danijel visits with his father at the POW camp which looks more like a concentration camp. The general says this will be their last winter fighting because now they have some 80% percent of Bosnia under their control. "And then there will be peace in Bosnia."
When Danijel leaves, a fellow officer tells his father that he has been keeping a Muslim woman for too long. Dad doesn't say a thing, but the news still thunders in his head.
Back at his place, Danijel breaks some wine with Ajla's dinner. She asks him about his visit to the POW camp. Is it as bad as she has imagined? Danijel says camps are a normal part of war. He tells her to eat. In the talking back and for she refers to him as a "murderer". This really makes him angry with her.
He says that now she thinks he's a monster. She immediately says that she didn't mean it, but he approaches her as if to strike her, which scares her. He says: "You're afraid of me now, aren't you?" On his way out he throws some throws some metal cups in her direction scaring her some more. After he's gone, she starts a nervous cry.
At night he returns to the room. He acts penitent toward her. They have sex and afterwards (some nudity) he asks her to dance with him. They dance. He remembers back before the war when he dance with her.
The general pays a visit on Ajla in her room. She is naked in bed and he tells her to get dressed. He looks around the room and asks her is she paints? She says yes and he tells her to paint his portrait.
She's shaking as she starts to paint. He talks about his mother. She had seven children. He was the youngest brother. The world war came and half of his village was killed. He gets up to leave.
When he leaves he sends in a soldier to rape Ajla. Danijel arrives back at the barracks. He sees the soldier coming from the direction of his room. He rushes into the room and demands to know from Ajla what that man did to her. She is in the shower (some nudity). He grabs her out of there and throws her on the bed. He pins her down on the bed and keeps asking her what did the man do to her? She keeps saying that it was all Danijel's doing.
Then Danijel sees the outline of his father's face on her canvas. He rushes out of the room. He goes to talk to the rapist. He asks how was she? He says she was good. They go for a little walk. He gets the rapist to answering many questions and then he shoots him in the head.
He then bursts into his father's office. Dad says his mother would turn over in her grave if she knew her son Danijel was with a Muslim woman. He says he must get rid of the woman. Danijel says he will deal with this on his own and in his own way.
He goes into her room and uses his belt to tie her down to the bed. It looks as though he is going to rape her but she moves her hips and legs forcefully away from his body. This makes him think. He walks out of the room.
The general oversees the killing of a great many Bosnians who fall back into a mass grave.
Danijel comes back with a pistol in his right hand. He cries as he asks her should he trust her? Did I make a mistakes. She says no. He tell her: "You're my enemy." No, says she. She kisses him and he kisses her.
Now he has sex with her. He asks her: "Why couldn't you have been born a Serb?"
Summer 1995. The US Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, presents evidence of mass graves in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. 7,000 men and boys are missing from the town and are feared dead. Ajla hears the news and is shocked and saddened.
Danijel returns to the barracks and Ajla's room. She is eating her dinner. He has a present for her and tells her to put it on. It's a blue outfit something like what she was wearing when they went dancing in the nightclub. He puts her in the passenger seat of a truck and takes her down to the art museum.
Ajla enjoys looking at the paintings. He tells her there that he has to go back to the front and may be away for some days. He will try to contact her on Wednesday. He says on Wednesday they will all be meeting in a church not too far away from the barracks.
He hears some truck coming up to the museum. He goes outside to check and hears that his father wants to see him along with the other officers. He goes back in the museum and tells her to just follow the hill back up to the barracks. After he leaves she starts walking up the hill.
At the meeting the general says NATO has already started bombing the Serbian positions. He says derogatory things about President Clinton saying he's trying to change his image back home. The general then says some brave words about the Serbs standing united against the enemy.
He comes back to his room and hugs Ajla laying on the bed.
At the front Danijel is back in a fire fight with the enemy. One of his men comes out of a building and gets shot down. Danijel starts firing away and tries to find where the enemy soldier is that killed the Serb. The two enemies run around the rubble until the Bosnian run right into Danijel who knocks him to the ground. Danijel then starts beating the man to death. But here comes NATO planes dropping bombs on the Serbian positions.
Serbians start arriving at the church where the big meeting is to be held. Danijel helps set up things there. He comes out of the church on a cigarette break. Soon after he closes the church doors behind him a bomb goes off inside the church. The explosion knocks Danijel to the ground.
Now he knows that Ajla is the enemy. And he would have been dead if the bomb had gone off a couple of seconds earlier. He looks and sees Ajla's sister standing on the outside of the church fence.
He returns to Ajla in the room and starts knocking her around. He says he saw her sister. She says: "I'm sorry." He shoots Ajla in the forehead.
Now Danijel walks to the UN positions,. The UN guard pulls out his pistol and tells him to stop. Danijel keeps on walking. Again Danijel is warned to stop. He finally tells his name to the guard and says he is a criminal of war.
"For three and a half years, the international community failed to decisively intervene and stop the war in Bosnia. The siege of Sarajevo was the longest in modern history. Across the country, 1 in every 2 Bosnians was forced to flee their home. During the war, as many as 50,000 Bosnian women were raped, leading to the first conviction for sexual violence, on its own, as a crime against humanity. The war in Bosnia was the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. Since 1995, an uneasy peace has prevailed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Still deep divisions remain, and the struggle for reconciliation continues."
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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