Lepa sela lepo gore
(Pretty Village, Pretty Flame) (1996)
Director: Srdjan Dragojevic.
Starring: Dragan Bjelogrlic (Milan), Nikola Kojo (Velja), Dragan Maksimovic (Petar), Zoran Cvijanovic (Brzi), Milorad Mandic (Viljuska), Dragan Petrovic (Laza), Lisa Moncure (Liza), Nikola Pejakovic (Halil), Velimir 'Bata' Zivojinovic (Gvozden), Petar Bozovic (Sloba), Marko Kovijanic (Marko), Dragan Zaric (Nazim), Admir Sehovic (Mali Milan), Milos Djuricic (Mali Halil), Vera Dedovic (Uciteljica).
two men who grew up together find themselves on opposing sides in the Bosnia-Serbia conflict
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
The local news from June 27, 1971. There is a big ceremony for the inauguration of the "Brotherhood-Unity Tunnel" that would link the brotherly regions of of the socialist homeland of Yugoslavia.
In 1980 Halil, the Muslim, and Milan, the Serb, are two boys who are best friends. They spend almost all their free time together. One of the places they are very familiar with is the "Brotherhood-Unity Tunnel."
The scene switches to Belgrade, 1994, at a military hospital. Milan and his military buddies, the Professor and Speedy, have been badly wounded and are recuperating in the hospital.
The scene switches to Bosnia, 1992, the first day of the war. At Sloba's roadside hideaway, Halil and Milan wonder if there will be a war. Milan says "what war?" Soon the Serb forces are gathering at Sloba' place. Milan watches as three of his fellow Serbs burn down a building owned by Halil. Milan becomes enraged and shoots the three in the legs. (Halil believes that Milan burned down the building.)
Back to the military hospital. A Muslim prisoner of war is brought in and Milan wants to kill him in the worst way.
Back to the past. Milan learns that the Muslims attacked and killed his mother. Halil gets the blame for this because the men were from his detachment. Milan is very distraught and angry.
Back to the war. Milan and his unit undergo an artillery barrage. The attack is so bad that they lose many men and have to take refuge in the old "Brotherhood-Unity Tunnel." The Muslims then surround the tunnel and try to kill them. So they are now in a standoff. Fellow Serbian Speedy bursts into the tunnel in his truck. He brought their female doctor with him, but she was killed in their getting past the Muslims into the tunnel. Speedy and the unit are surprised when they learn that an American female journalist, Liza, has stowed away in the back of the truck. She is very frightened because she thinks the Serbs will kill her. They don't, but at first they give her a very hard time.
In the tunnel now are the Captain, Milan, Liza, Speedy, the Professor, the brute Fork, the rape-threatening Velja and Laza. As time proceeds, the situation gets worse and worse for the men in the tunnel. They soon run out of water, the Muslims harass them with loud music and taunts, and subject them to numerous short fire fights. Laza starts to go toward the tunnel opening with a grenade with the pin pulled, trips and drops the grenade a short distance from him. He is killed when the grenade explodes.
Back in the hospital. Speedy dies of his wounds. This makes Milan even more desperate to kill the Muslim POW.
Flashback to Milan's childhood. He and Halil watch as their school teacher has sex with the postman. On May 4, 1980, the news arrives that the great Yugoslavian leader Tito is dead.
Back at the tunnel. Fork decides that he is going home and walks out of the tunnel opening. He is then shot down and killed. Milan is able to fix the truck and they prepare to make a get-away. The previously wounded Velja kills himself by putting his pistol into his mouth and pulling the trigger. The Captain tries to drive the truck out of the tunnel, but he is killed by the Muslims. Milan, Speedy, the Professor and Liza now want to blast away with their automatic weapon in an attempt to get out of the tunnel. Liza turns around to fetch her camera and is killed. The other three make it out of the tunnel. The three survivors are saved by artillery fire that rains down on the Muslims. At the mouth of the tunnel Halil shouts down to Milan from the top of the tunnel. He asks Milan why he burned down his building. Milan says he did not burn it. Milan asks Hilal why he killed his mother. Hilal said he had nothing to do with it. As Hilal turns to go an artillery shell hits nearby, hitting him with shrapnel (presumably) and throwing him down two stories or so to land at the feet of Milan dead.
Back to the hospital. While the nurses are busy having sex with the hospital guard, Milan drags himself to the room where the Muslim POW is being treated. The professor tries to stop him but Milan hits him, knocking him out. Milan plans to kill the Muslim with a fork. When the Muslim sees Milan face to face, he tells Milan: "Do it!" which deflates Milan. (Off camera, the nurses and the guard finally notice that something is amiss, rush to the Muslim's room. A trail of smeared blood shows the way. The hospital guard shoots Milan dead.
Pretty good movie. It's a sad one. At the start, it is also a very confusing one. The movie jumps back and forth between the hospital, Milan's childhood and the Bosnian War. It took us awhile to realize which character was the adult Milan. You have to pay close attention or read the beginning of this summary to make things easier.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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