Where Eskimos Live (2002)
Director: Tomasz Wiszniewski.
Starring: Bob Hoskins (Sharkey), Sergiusz Zymelka (Vlado Petric), Krzysztof Majchrzak (Colonel Vuko), Miroslaw Baka (Sharkey's employer), Andrzej Chyra (Employer`s lawyer), Maja Ostaszewska, Slawomir Grzymkowski, Maciej Wojdyla, Lech Mackiewicz, Lukasz Komosa, Rafal Nakoneczny, Wojciech Smolarz, Przemyslaw Sadowski (Deserter), Tomasz Sapryk, Bronislaw Pawlik (Oldman in library).
man and war orphan bound to each other while on a journey through war torn Bosnia
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
A man named Sharkey is on a bus headed through Bosnia to meet with the Polish UNICEF delegates in the Balkans. At a check point the guards stop the bus to check the passengers. One of the guards takes Sharkey's Camel cigarettes. By the time they are through with him, the bus has already driven off and now he must walk. Sharkey is to meet with Dragon Dragicz to pick up his male child to take out of Bosnia. When Sharkey arrives at his destination he finds out that Dragon is already dead, killed by two Russian-speaking Turks who beat him to death.
A small boy known as Vlado is an orphan who stays with a gang of orphans. While part of the group distracts the Serbian guards, Vlado sneaks through a small window to get into the supply room. While he is there he uncovers the dead body of a woman who has been beaten and gang raped. He later throws out some of the food supplies to his buddies.
Sharkey is now looking for any nine year old boy. He sees some orphans being held in a compound surrounded by men with automatic weapons. Sharkey asks the guards about taking a boy orphan out with him, but the guards inform him that if he looks closer he will notice that only girls are being held in the compound. They offer a couple of girls to him for money, but Sharkey declines. The guards are now disgusted with him and as Sharkey walks away they refer to him as "homo".
Vlado tells his retarded friend that he wants to run away to Norway where the Eskimos live.
Sharkey runs into some Serbian soldiers. The commander of the group takes his passport. The daughter of the commander is with him. The two soldiers with him drive her back to camp, while the commander, known as Vuko, walks with Sharkey. He asks Sharkey to take his daughter out of Bosnia to Germany where he has some friends who will take care of her. He says he is willing to pay him. Sharkey declines, but Vuko tells him that he could always shoot Sharkey for being a spy. Sharkey agrees to take the daughter.
The gang of orphan boys carry a mine to the road and bury it. The jeep with Vuko's daughter drives over the mine, it explodes and kills all the jeep occupants. Vuko and Sharkey see the explosion and run to catch up with the jeep. Vuko quickly sees that all the passengers have been killed. The orphan kids run out to the jeep and one of them even taunts Vuko, who is in a state of shock.
Sharkey follows the boys back to the place where they stay. He explains to the boys that he is from Norway and works for UNICEF and that he needs to take a nine-year old boy with him. The leader asks to Sharkey to play a game of cards for a boy. If Sharkey wins, he gets a kid. Sharkey does win, but the boy leader only offers him the retarded friend of Vlado. The leader gives Sharkey until the next morning to make up his mind.
The next morning Vlado takes his back-pack and goes looking for Sharkey. He finds him and explains that he wants to go with him out of Bosnia. Sharkey agrees and they start their journey. Vlado soon realizes that Sharkey is not UNICEF and he tells him so. Sharkey says: "That's right." But Sharkey won't tell him the real reason why he needs a boy.
After recovering from his state of shock, Vuko finds the orphan gang and forces them all to lay on the ground. He demands that they tell him where Sharkey went. One of the kids starts taunting Vuko and Vuko recognizes his whooping technique. Vuko shoots and kills the boy. With the information in hand Vuko now leaves to pursue Sharkey.
Sharkey buys an old used car. At still another check point, Sharkey and Vlado are told that the only road to the border is closed for war games. The two then head over to a village where they are invited to attend a party. There Sharkey meets a doctor who tells him that he better leave soon because there are just too many guns around.
Sharkey and Vlado camp out the next night. In the morning Vlado goes exploring around the area and finds a group of civilians piled onto what looks like a long funeral pyre just waiting to be lit.
The two travelers run into a lot of refugees. Two men jump into Sharkey's car demanding that he give them a ride to the nearest hospital because one of the men has a leg wound. The two uninvited guests are deserters. Sharkey is stopped at another check point and the two unwanted riders are killed for being deserters. Sharkey drives on. Later Vuko arrives at the check point. He explains to the soldiers there that Sharkey killed his daughter. He really believes that Sharkey knew about the mine before the jeep exploded. The soldiers tell Vuko which way Sharkey and the kid went.
Sharkey and Vlado go to an inn for supper and there decides to stay for the night. Sharkey decides to have and has sex with one of the prostitutes at the inn.
At another check point Sharkey tells Vlado that his name is Marek Nowak and provides him with a false story to get through the check point. But when questioned, Vlado tells the questioner that his real name is Vlado. This gets Sharkey in trouble and he has to give the questioner a $1,000 bribe to get out of trouble. Sharkey is so furious with Vlado that he strikes him. Vlado runs away. After Sharkey cools down, he takes the car and starts looking for Vlado.
He finally finds Vlado in a bombed out area where Serbian troops are staying. One of the Serbian tanks runs over Sharkey's car completely demolishing it. The commander of the group grabs Sharkey and accuses him of being a spy. Sharkey is just about to be shot by a firing squad, when Vlado intervenes and begs the commander to release Sharkey. Sharkey is released and he hugs Vlado who in turn cries a little.
Vuko catches up with the two. He marches Sharkey to a place where he can kill him. Sharkey manages to get away by throwing sand into Vuko's eyes and then throwing a knife into his body.
Sharkey and Vlado reach another town and then go on to reach a United Nations check point. They pass through into Poland. There Sharkey finds out that the men who hired him to get a nine year old boy for them only want him for his kidney. Sharkey then demands that the men pays him twice his fee. But later Sharkey decides not to give Vlado to the men. Instead he gets blood from a bum with AIDS and with the cooperation of the health clinic gets a blood report saying that Vlado has AIDS.
Sharkey is given a bad beating by the thugs working for the kidney collectors. They want their money back from Sharkey. They tell him that they will come back the next morning for the money and he better have it. Sharkey takes Vlado to relatives of Vuko's. He leaves the boy with them and tries to drive away in the taxi. But Vlado jumps into the cab. Vlado asks the taxi driver to drive a bit. Where to? To Norway where the Eskimos live.
Good movie, but not much history. You have to know something about Yugoslavia and its collapse to appreciate what is going on. There are a lot of terrible scenes of the aftermaths of atrocities, but no explanation. I don't even remember them mentioning where they were. The movie theme itself is pretty standard -- a modified father-son relationship.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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