No Man’s Land

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41 Responses to “No Man’s Land”

  1. O. Brown says:

    Watching No Man’s Land endangers one to image a sub-genera of war film, the “buddy tragedy” from the moment the premise is set. The creating of cinematic dilemma from the presumed dead soldier’s positioning on the spring loaded land-mine, was as original as any war drama has concocted; the impending threat of death in war, brought into focus by the very clear danger of an unsolvable explosive conundrum, chilling in its simplicity. As soon as it is mentioned that the trapped soldier cannot be moved upon his waking from a supposed mortal injury, the film feels similar to, yet more appropriate for the name of Enemy Mine. 1985’s Enemy Mine takes place on a distant planet, where two members of opposing sides of a galactic battle have crash landed and found a landscape deserted save for one another. In this movie, Dennis Quaid plays the humanoid soldier, and through their time together, the rivals become close friends, and results in the common cultural appreciation plot I have been brainwashed to expect from No Man’s Land. I was quite relieved to see the more realistic outcome from this film where, in the end, both of the men are still trying to kill each other. In this sense, No Man’s Land is in essence Enemy Mine in reverse; the earlier movie starts with the two soldiers at odds and ends in friendship, and the latter the soldiers are relatively chummy for the circumstances (especially when they discover they share a mutual, ample bosomed acquaintance) and end as mortal enemies. I was pleased to see this movie did not chose to follow the Hollywood craze of making everything turn out in the end, a sentiment apparently shared by author Matthew Stewart in Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie. Stuart states, “The filmmaker’s private point of view may well be that these men, who even discover that they share a knowledge of the same buxom blonde woman, should be brothers, but neither of them expresses any such sentiment, just as neither expresses regret over the injuries he has caused, and so the film indulges in no hands-across-the-world style sentimentality, nor does it clear ground for future brotherhood to be sewn.” It is refreshing to see war displayed for its messy and harmful impact on society as a whole, rather than the crisp, clean, fresh CGI explosions and actions sequences common to the genera. The U.N.’s conduct in this film is equally displayed as realistic, where the best intentions are intended, but no real authority is granted. The only real upside being that the deep corruption and abuse of power common to U.N.’s historic conduct was omitted for the most part in this film.

    Stewart, Matthew. “Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” And The Contemporary War Movie.” Midwest Quarterly: 9-25. Web. October 31 2015.

  2. Jessica Warnement says:

    “The soldier is mostly a victim; seldom is he acknowledged as a self-determining agent. He is the reluctant participant never the willing, let alone the enthusiastic serving man who volunteered to be where he is and may espouse a sense of purpose, even mission.”

    This is clearly evident in Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land; as we watch our two main characters, a Bosnian and Serb soldier, reluctantly enter into the situation that comprises the heart of the film. Both are subsequently trapped in a trench, the no man’s land between their lines. The two blame each other’s side for the cause of the war, they fight, they threaten each other’s lives, they agree to co-exist… and then the cycle starts over again; often depending on who’s armed. They briefly agree to cooperate, waving white flags to signal for the UN. While this works, the problem isn’t just the safe retrieval of the two soldiers, but instead it’s of the soldier who was placed on top of a “bouncing mine”, that cannot be diffused.

    The end of the film faces us with the harsh reality of the situation, as the two soldiers are killed (Ciki killing Nino, and Ciki being killed by the UN), and the high commanding officer pretends to have been able to diffuse the bomb, so as to rid the area of all the reporters. We’re left with the camera panning out, away from the soldier left atop the “bouncing mine”, not a soul around, and the obvious awareness of his fate.

    There is so much to take away from this film, but when considering Stewart’s words above, I turn my focus to the eventual death of our two main soldiers. Both being the reluctant participant, but committed to their convictions against one another’s country. At one point, understanding that they are merely people, they seem to have an agreement to not harm one another. But as tensions rise due to the third soldier on the mine, they can’t resist their instinct for self-preservation. And once they’re finally safely removed from the trench, they’ve managed to build such a hatred for each other, for no apparent reason aside from their established positions, that one kills the other, in turn getting himself killed. Is this not the very situation so many soldiers are faced with in a time of war? It’s not personal; they’re both the victim in this situation, but it’s kill, or be killed.

    Baschet, M. (Producer), & Tanovic, D. (Director). (2001). No Man’s Land [Motion picture]. France: Noe Productions.
    Stewart, M. (2005). Danis Tanovic’s no man’s land and the contemporary war movie. Midwest Quarterly, pp. 9-25.

  3. Courtney Thompson says:

    Tanovic is a Bosnian director and writer that became famous practically overnight with his award winning film titled “No Man’s Land” which showcased the horrors of the Bosnia-Herzegovina war. Tanovic became interested in filmmaking after spending a few years studying music, engineering, and attending the Sarajevo Film Academy in 1992 when the war broke out. He captured hours of documentary footage of the war and its effect over the span of two years. Tanovic left Sarajevo to start studying filmmaking in Belgium. Here is where he started to produce documentaries, short films, and plays. After being released in 2001 “No Man’s Land” received critical acclaim in Europe and America and earned several awards such as “the Best Screenplay prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, the Best New Director trophy at the 2001 Cesar Awards, and was cited for his work on the film at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the Sao Paulo International Film Festival” (“Danis Tanovic”).
    “No Man’s Land” consists of a Bosnian and a Serb that are soliders in no man’s land. No mans land was a trench that was between enemy lines of the Bosnian war. The soldiers are in a very dangerous position as they could be killed at any moment. They do not trust each other and on top of it all a fellow solider is laying on top of a mine to which if he moves, even just the slightest, they all die. Even during this horrendous event these two soldiers that thought they were completely different turned out to have quite a few things in common.
    Tanovic brings a new style to the big screen with this concept of anti-war films. Even though this film was ground breaking and won many awards I found it to be a bit dry at times. I did how ever learn quite a bit from Tanovic’s film. It is sad to see how we as humans have so much in common but just because someone may be from “the opposite side of the track” we deem them impossible to get along with, even denying all the things in common. Just as mentioned in Mathew Stewart’s article, this is a film created by a war hater to show the true aspects of war and how nothing good comes of it. We want to believe that war is helping countries progress and gain their independence but no part of war is desirable.

    “Danis Tanovic.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

  4. Aaron Walling says:

    “No Man’s Land” by Danis Tanovic is an excellent masterpiece that can be seen as following in the footprints of a war movie from the 1930s in that of “All Quiet on the Western Front”. This does not only bring out an aspect of war being realistic to the one’s involved, but that the glorification of war changes the characters throughout the film, just like the German students turned soldiers in WWI.
    In a scene that caught my attention was the one called ‘You Started It.” where two of the fighters from either side are caught in between fire from both sides. As they both converse with each other, their interaction shows the tiring exhaustion from both sides.
    “Sure. Yours never stop.”
    “How about yours? Do they ever stop?”
    “You can’t compare. We didn’t start the war.”
    “And maybe we did?”
    “No! The Khmer Rouge! All you can do is make war.”
    Both side blame each other for the war. In Matthew Stewart’s article about the movie brings up the excellent point that this film avoids the anti-war cliche of yesterday, but insteads gives us a window to see a different point of view. Look at the scenes in “All is Quiet on the Western Front” where the students learn about the horrors of war. All is not what they were told by their teacher. Same goes for the two soldiers in “No Man’s Land” who began to blame each other for the war and fighting. However, the different perspective is that you are getting both sides of the coin. In the same scene, a profound statement is made during the dialogue between the two soldiers.
    “Please. The whole world thinks like me.”
    “What world? Your world! You show our burned villages and say they’re yours.”
    “And that’s my side shooting now? You’re all saints. Give it a rest.”
    Think about it. There is no truth to both sides. In the end, it’s up to what they think is the truth. The winners are the one’s who write history.

    • Courtney Thompson says:

      This movie did do a great job at portraying the harsh realities of war just like “All Quiet on the Western Front.”It is interesting to see the difference between a American war movie and a Bosnian war movie. America/Hollywood seems to be so caught up in the special effects and getting the action just right that sometimes they may forget the little details of the story and heartache.
      These two men were set against each other perhaps even before they were born they just did not know it yet. Just because of the way they were brought up and what they were taught to believe they ended up hating another group of human beings. Yes there are “winners” to wars but no one ever truly wins. There are too many casualties, destruction, and pain to have a clear winner.

  5. Haley Nelson says:

    I emerged from watching the film feeling initially disappointed and, dare I say, bored: where was the nonstop action/thrill that I have grown accustomed to seeing in war films; where was the poetry in dialogue; why was the audience yanked between disparate stylistic choices, like buoyant humor and anchoring realism? Only after reading Matthew Stewart’s article, “Danis Tanovic’s ‘No Man’s Land’ and the Contemporary War Movie” did the themes of the movie coagulate into something coherent for me. I realized quickly that the film seemed so initially jarring because it stands alone in contemporary war films, more or less, as a complete abandonment from the cliche (the cliche I am so very used to recognizing, picking apart, and appreciating). Upon reflection (and with the help of Stewart), the film’s departure from the classic “war film format” allowed it to explore elements of war which are rarely depicted and/or largely unknown, such as, as Stewart points out, new elements of war which have only recently become relevant. It makes sense, then, why my visceral reaction was so negative: there is no preexisting format to scaffold “No Man’s Land” against, because it is forging new ground (and therefore my caveman brain shuts down and deems it boring). Not for long!

    Despite exploring new filmic territory, Tanovic seemed to have placed careful thought into creating a cohesive film experience, rather than let the mere novelty of portraying modern warfare carry the weight of the movie. Truth be told, despite the ambling feel of events, Tanovic has densely packed the film with commentary on and deft exposition of modern warfare in its technology, politics, psychology, and media coverage.

    Psychologically, the characters present a distinct lack of empathy extending over enemy lines, which Stewart Stewart summarizes, “[The characters’] propinquity in the trench does not make them “truly see” one another a la Paul Baumer, but rather forments their hatred by giving it a concrete object to which it may attach, and therefore inflame itself.” (Stewart 16). This departs from older war films, such as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” wherein realizing the humanity of the enemy becomes a common theme, and instead presents a startling reality of modern warfare. As Stewart further describes, “The film indulges in no hands-across-the-world style sentimentality, nor does it clear ground for future brotherhood to be sewn.”(Stewart 16).
    Technologically, the introduction of the bouncing mine offered an interesting dynamical variable/conflict not yet seen in war films, and led to some interesting character interplays and strategy. Politically, the landscape is so wildly different from wars of the past, especially with the *relatively new* introduction of a UN presence, with its “non-interference” policy which seems to be more complicating, both actively and morally, on the battlefield than helpful. Similarly, the portrayal of media coverage allowed the film to explore how the media element itself ingratiates itself in the procedures of war (for better or for worse).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that for “No Man’s Land” to have initially come off as “too organic” and “boring” is in fact a testament to the film’s efficacy in illustrating a more realistic portrait of war than I have so far encountered. Even during moments of potentially-juxtaposed humor, the film presented a very natural slice of contemporary wartime reality. A first glance revealed to me a tired portrayal of war, but lucky am I to have access, via this class, to the literature required to enlighten me!

    Stewart, Matthew. “Danis Tanovic’s ‘No Man’s Land’ And The Contemporary War Movie.” Midwest Quarterly 47.1 (2005): 9-25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 31. Oct. 2015.

    • Courtney Thompson says:

      It is quite sad that no matter what these men could not see the humanity in the other. Then again that is the harsh reality of war. Seeing them place the spring mine under the, thought to be dead, man and how they cared for no human life was a bit heartbreaking. I am sure that that is the message that Tanovic wanted to portray and he did it very well by showing that perhaps if these men weren’t from two separate countries and in a trench that they could have been friends.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Haley,

      I just have to say your post was very well written and thought provoking. I hadn’t thought to compare this film to other war films, but in a sense, doing so does add more appreciation to No Man’s Land. Thank you for such a great post.

  6. Shelina Turner says:

    The Movie No Man’s Land is a highly dramatic turn of events after all but one Bosniak soldiers are killed, two Serb soldiers go into the trenches to clear them out. One of the Serb soldiers placed a mine under what appeared to be a dead body. The Bosniak soldier then kills one of the Serb soldiers and wounds the other. At this point there is a sense of morality, of remorse as he doesn’t kill the Serb soldier. In the article “Danis Tanvic’s No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie” by Matthew Stewart, Stewart compares the movie No Man’s Land to All Quiet on The Western Front. In All Quiet one of the soldiers spends the night with an enemy in a crater after wounding the man. In this scene the soldier finds himself questioning the sense of war, that if it were not for the clothes they could be brothers. I agree with this comparison. When you take a war on such close quarters the people that you are fighting are more than likely your neighbors. This is reiterated when they are making small talk and realize they know the same woman. I believe this is also evident in Hotel Rwanda, there are neighbors that are now afraid for their lives just because of their status as Hutu or Tutsi. In the film Hotel Rwanda there isn’t the evident realization of someone coming to humanity when they have tried to kill someone then realize that they are no different from one another, but the whole film is based on that thought. Although the ending in No Man’s Land is somewhat a letdown when the Bosniak solider cannot put side the differences and attempts to kill the Serb soldier and ends up getting himself killed. I was also upset at the fact that they could not save the soldier that was on top of the mine. I kept of hoping they could find some way to save him, to slide something underneath him and put weight on it.

    • Aaron Walling says:

      I love your analysis about comparing Hotel Rwanda to this movie. I couldn’t find the movie on good quality, but to see your points after watching Hotel Rwanda I believe this was excellent to add to this.

  7. Heather Corcoran says:

    No Man’s Land is one of the best movies we’ve watched thus far. It was powerful, poignant, and gripping. I found a lot to agree with in Matthew Stewart’s analysis of the film, though I think I found it to be a much better film than he did.

    As we move into an age of warfare defined by moral ambiguity, it seems that war films remain stuck in the past. There seems an irresolvable dichotomy between the selection of somewhat pro-war films grounded in a glorified past denuded of ethical issues, and anti-war films centered on the Soldier victim ground under the heel of heartless politicians and the military industrial complex. Both ends of the spectrum represent an oversimplification which robs their subject of most of its meaning. Neither extreme particularly resonates with me.

    War comes in many different variations, the convenience of externalizing all responsibility to a callous overlord who forces innocents into barbarism is only appropriate in armies of the forcibly drafted. The film asks some very difficult questions. While it certainly doesn’t paint a picture of glorious war, it does shine an unflattering lite on the human condition. Despite getting to know each other, the two men are not cured of their mutual enmity, they are carried away on the under currents of racial tension that brought them to war in the first place. The dialogue deliberately toys with the trope of Soldiers laying down their arms upon realizing their brotherhood, defying our expectations with the triumph of suspicion and self-interest in service of ruthless real politik.

    Stewart’s analysis of the film and its creator ties the film into more interventionist views. Before reading the article and Stewart referencing Tanovic making statements against neutrality, I would have read the film differently. I was left feeling a message of the futility of even the best of intentions in the face of intractable local conflicts. Upon further examination of my thoughts, I was left with what is perhaps Tanovic’s most important message, that war is complicated, brutal, and often futile but ultimately less evil than doing nothing.

  8. Erik Rickards says:

    Danis Tanovic’s film, “No Man’s Land”, struck me as an eerie and grim retelling of the entire Bosnian conflict through a rarely seen satirical and more-or-less neutral third party (for its time, at least). The allegory between the movie’s setting of an isolated conflict in a trench and the real world’s Bosnian war was the first takeaway I got from this film. Clearly we can see that the relationship between Tchiki and Nino is symbolic of the Bosnian and Serbian sides in the war, as the two different ethnicities are pitted against one another. Although they can find common ground as they begin to see themselves as fellow humans, they ultimately understand that their cultural dispositions render them ultimately irreconcilable and they can not quell the disputes they hold. To this end we would expect the UN intervention to bring some peace to the situation– if the belligerents can not settle things themselves, then surely a 3rd party must hold the key, right? To this Matthew Stewart comments in his work, “No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie”, that this is where we see “No Man’s Land” truly stand out. Not only does it go beyond the average war film by establishing the soldiers within as independent moral actors rather than unwilling subjects– “No Man’s Land” takes it a step further and pushes the subjectification of the actors more still: these soldiers are human, but that does not mean they will throw down their arms as brothers. No, Tanovic wants us to understand that war is ultimately perpetrated by humans for reasons, and sometimes these reasons drive us so far apart that we can not come together under the unifying force that is our shared humanity. Further still drawing correlations to the real world, we saw that the entry of the third party (the UN in both cases) did not resolve the conflict. Rather, it contributed nothing positive and ultimately got bored and left the conflict before finishing it. To this end I saw the lack of climax (the mine exploding) to be very similar to the muddled mediation of the war. The bomb that we never saw detonate was the retribution and restoration we never saw for the war crimes that happened in the Bosnian conflict– and while the story probably finished as we had expected it would (Slobodan Milosevic eventually died while awaiting trial in 2006), does that still mean we should call the movie complete and move on to the next war?

    • Erik Rickards says:

      Works cited:
      Stewart, Matthew. “Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” And The Contemporary War Movie.” Midwest Quarterly 47.1 (2005): 9-25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 31. Oct. 2015.

    • Haley Nelson says:

      “To this end I saw the lack of climax (the mine exploding) to be very similar to the muddled mediation of the war. The bomb that we never saw detonate was the retribution and restoration we never saw for the war crimes that happened in the Bosnian conflict”

      Astute observation! To be honest, the more subtle, symbolic allusions to the Bosnian War as a whole evaded me during the film, but it’s interesting to hear your insight, as someone who is more familiar with the intricacies of the conflict. I would imagine that there was significant depth added to the film if you knew more about how the war played out. Luckily, the themes presented by Tanovic seem to extend to other modern examples of warfare as well, which make this film a universally digestible template for other such contemporary portrayals or war.

  9. Joseph says:

    This movie showed so little, yet revealed so much. Physically, the plot is restricted primarily to the trench, but metaphorically it encompasses the entire Balkan conflict. Not only do the main characters symbolize the Serbs, Bosnians, press corps, and UN, but how they interact with one another is reflective of the conflict as a whole.
    Ciki, the Bosnian, and Nino, the Serb, are both wounded, and occupying the same piece of territory, yet instead of killing each other outright, engage in a unsteady cease-fire. I found it telling that plot lines used for comedic relief (“now who started the war??”) spoke to a deeper reality- those who wield the power, write the history. Of course the Serb and the Bosnian claimed the “other side” started the war, and both could rattle off a long list of atrocities, but when it came down to it, which side admitted responsibility depended on who was holding the rifle.
    The United Nations was portrayed as ineffectual and lacking a unified chain of command between those soldiers in the field and the top brass in “in the rear with the gear”. Sergeant Marchand had a first person view of the conflict, yet was subordinate to his superior officers, who were themselves far removed from the front lines. It was with no little amount of irony that I noticed the chess board sitting on the UN commanders desk as he bumbled through his telephone briefing, reinforcing the notion that his experience with the conflict was largely theoretical.
    The press corps role in this film was pragmatic- they were neither “good” nor “bad”, but lent insight into how easily journalism can be leveraged to attain a certain goal, whether it was to shame the UN command into action, or to simply appease the producers watching the action via satellite. Ciki pointedly rebuked the reporters that crowded to capture his brief standoff with Nino, stating, “You’re all the same- and you vultures film it? You get good money? Does our misery pay well?”. He could have very well been speaking for his entire country.
    I didn’t have access to the attached article, but was I was able to peruse the UAF Journalism blog, “Short Timers” and gained insight into how who journalists cover affects how they are portrayed. During the 1 month embed with the U.S. Army in Iraq, they primarily interviewed fellow Americans, which unfortunately tells only half the story. Had they had the ability or time to speak to the local population that had suffered through their own sectarian war in 2006, they may have offered a more nuanced perspective of the conflict. In this way, I found similarities between their blog and the press in “No Mans Land”- both were far removed from the key players in each conflict, those who were fighting on the very soil they inhabited.

    • Erik Rickards says:

      I like the similarities you draw between the Serbian and Bosnian sides both in the war and the film. That’s definitely what jumped out at me the most as well as I was watching the movie.

      One thing that I found very interesting is what ultimately drove the media away from the Bosnian conflict. As we see in the film and in reality, we quit hearing about the war long before the conflict was actually settled. If the media had been drawn in by the misery and turmoil that could be turned into a profit, why did they leave while it was still there? In the movie, I think we’re given the impression that maybe they had been fooled into thinking the conflict had been settled and left of their own accord. Is this what happened in reality, or is this Tanovic’s opinion?

  10. brittanyhoch says:

    I agree with you and the article that the media is extermely powerful in todays technology dependent world. Tanovic did a good job showing the power and influence the media has over world events. The media has even more power then just influencing world events, they can actually influence the views people hold in regard to the those events.

    • brittanyhoch says:

      This was supposed to be a response to Mikayla Hamlin above.

    • Shelina Turner says:

      I also agree with the influence that the media plays. Another side to it is the press putting themselves in situations just for the viewers at home. Without military training they are putting themselves in the middle of battles just to get the shots. The scene where the boss asks the woman to get shots of the bomb squad while they are working on it so they can get the shot where the soldier is saved. He has no regard for the safety for his crew, only the viewers.

  11. Mikayla Hamlin says:

    In the article, Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie, written by Matthew Stewart, he makes a good point that by this point in modern warfare we already know that war isn’t some happy exciting thing that young men (and women) sign up to participate in. There have been plenty of antiwar films made by now. The average citizen knows that war is miserable and hellish for those that sign up to endure; regardless they are there to serve a purpose. The point is we know there are plenty of real dangers that soldier face in warfare, but we don’t actually know the true realism of modern warfare today.
    Stewart makes a valid point, “the movie world in particular and the art world in general have not begun to come to grips with either contemporary politics or current military methods and technology” (12). Film really does not portray the current state of warfare with the army as peacekeepers, the military as nation builders (as is the case with the U.S. invasion of Iraq), high tech weaponry (like the bouncing mine in this film, that even the EOD squad can’t handle), and especially the true power of the media. Tanovic did a brilliant job with No Man’s Land by creating an antiwar film that also explores a number of these current issues that play into modern warfare. He heavily focuses on the perspective of the middlemen, the United Nations officers, as “peacekeepers” in this film. They just sat around watching everything violently escalate, and Tanovic does a great job at making this clear in the film. His take on the media is also important because the media really does have the power to control certain situations. The threat of the media being able to change the public’s opinion of the United Nations actions was very real.
    The article also proposes an interesting literary comparison of this film to All Quiet on the Western Front with the two men (enemies) from each side stuck in the trench together. In All Quiet, the main character Paul is stuck in the same trench for many hours with a French man. Paul toys with the idea that if it weren’t for the war, the other man might have been his brother and comrade. In this instance though Nino and Tchiki still hate each other passionately, no matter the situation they are in. The reason these two men are stuck in this trench is completely different. The article states, “They are involved in a race war, a civil war driven by intense hatreds and already bathed in civilian blood, and they each know it” (15). When both mutually distrust each other, they vow to kill the other if it’s the last thing they do, and ironically in the end both lie dead. Being in the trench together in this situation actually increased their hatred for each other.
    In Tsera’s case there was nothing that could be done for him. It’s a depressing scene of everyone packing up and hauling out, and he is still stuck lying at the bottom of the trench, left to die. Stewart makes an interesting point that Tsera represents an abandoned Bosnia. The UN didn’t really do much to help the situation between the Serbians and Bosnians.

    • O. Brown says:

      It is interesting, that this film’s perspective on the depressing realization of the man who finds himself the instrument of his own destruction who in the end, is left without any usable assistance. I, as well, identify the parallel of this main focus of the film of the man stuck on a mine to represent the foreign intervention and its uselessness in this brutal and unneeded civil war. the “abandon Bosnia” describes perfectly how the U.N.’s coalition forces treated the situation, and it is both infuriating and understandable, when considering the massive contemplation and intricate understanding of the conflict between these groups of people that it would take to arbitrate the side that deserves to receive assistance. It makes sense for the U.N. to maintain a presence throughout the conflict to attempt to quell the dispute, but their resources would be better spent proactively engaging both nations in peacekeeping talks and negotiation. While a lot of attention is given to the criminality of the U.N.’s helplessness in this bitter slaughter, the futility that is displayed in the sheer inevitability of the bouncing mine’s destruction illustrates motive from the situation over the actors in it. Even when the explosive expert arrives, there simply is no way to diffuse the mine, and equally so, even with a U.N. presence, the ability to diffuse the situation is unattainable with the passionate fervor embodied by both sides.

  12. Shelly DeWilde says:

    Matthew Stewart the author of “Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” And The Contemporary War Movie” wrote and asked in his conclusion “new weapons create the potential for new dilemmas on the battlefield; they may even reveal something about the people who make them and those who use them…how will an internationalizing world sort itself out in the face of still strong national institutions and the even stronger nationalistic, often merely localist or tribal, sentiments that still grip people’s hearts?” (Page 25). Tanović’s exploration into this subject was truly revolutionary in the anti-war movie industry and when I asked an anonymous citizen from Serbia who had watched this movie they were not surprised by the film’s style, theme and humor as it is prevalent in many Balkan films. They felt the message was innate and had said, “Both sides are too proud to say let’s not. The outside has interest to have both sides fight here, that’s not our wish.” The film was a success in that it seemed to paramount the feelings that many people in the Balkan areas have about the war. Tanović’s research and interest were a testimony to the film No Man’s Land.
    The bouncing mine that the Serbian soldier set up under Cera he said in the film had been made in E.U., which foreshadowed the interests of the UNPROFOR and the path of the movie. When the man had read where it was made I got the impression he was not exactly knowledgeable about its origins and was instead plainly reading it. When the men are fighting in the trench shed over who started the war ÄŒiki said it could have been penguins and that it didn’t really matter and it instead appeared to revolve around the idea of whether the other was equal to him, which went to the concept of their nationality and origins. From the film I got the impression that they were not so different from the other excluding their country of origin. Many moments in No Man’s Land there was an aspect of incredulity however the key elements and themes should be taken seriously by the viewers.

    Stewart, Matthew. “Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” And The Contemporary War Movie.” Midwest Quarterly 47.1 (2005): 9-25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 31. Oct. 2015.

    • brittanyhoch says:

      I think your point about the bouncing mine is a a good one. It does relate to the articles premise that new technology and weapons change the face of war. The idea that they could have sat at a bar together if they had not been at war is a possibility but the fact that it is a war based on race and hatred makes that less likely no matter how alike they seem. The roots of their dislike may run too deep. Using tactics like planting the bouncing bomb under a dead body to kill the Bosnians that would come to collect it shows the use of new technology to change the face of war, and also displays the extreme hatred they have towards eachother.

    • Mikayla Hamlin says:

      Shelly: You make an interesting point about the bouncing mine being made by the E.U. I had not noticed that at all while watching the film. Also you are absolutely right that both sides were too proud. They both had very strong nationalistic views that were too different from the other, and it turned into full blown war.
      To go off what Brittany was saying, “roots of their dislike run too deep”, sometimes different ethnicities just can’t live amongst each other because they don’t share the same political view points, they are just too different. It turns into serious conflict between the two groups.

    • Joseph says:

      I found it interesting that the concept of “history is written by the victors” was demonstrated by the running dialog of “who started the war?”, which was dependent on who was holding a rifle at the moment. During the early years of the conflict, there was an arms embargo put in place by the UN in an attempt to restrict the amount of weapons being used by both sides, but it was found to be ineffectual and actually put the Bosnians at a disadvantage. Countries make strange bed-fellows during war time..

      • Aaron Walling says:

        To use foreshadowing in a movie is very good, but to see it used excellently was breath taking. Does a single act like this set the movie’s tone throughout the film? I believe without that scene the movie would have faltered.

        • Jessica says:

          Hi Aaron,

          As I said to Shelly, I failed to see the importance in the scene where they learn of the origin of the bouncing mine. Therefore, I’m not certain I understand how the movie would have faltered without that scene.

          I know we’re past the required date for posting, but if you find yourself interested in replying, I would appreciate hearing why you see it that way. Genuine interest in understanding what I have missed.


    • Jessica says:


      I find that the comment, “both sides are too proud to say let’s not” is both prevalent in this film, and undoubtedly in many wars throughout history.

      I have to admit however, that I did not grasp the foreshadowing set by the bouncing mine and its origin. Reading everyone’s interpretation of that scene does add significance to gaining a better understanding, but I find that it’s still not what I took away the most from the film.

      I appreciate your insight and thorough interpretation of your personal experience with the film.

  13. brittanyhoch says:

    ‘No Man’s Land’, a film by Danis Tanovic, depicts men from opposite sides being stuck in a trench between the lines. I think it was interesting how the film depicted attempts to get along, but in the end their hatred for each other was to strong and they kill one another. The article, “Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie” addresses this, it compares the relationship to Paul Baumer spending the night in a trench with a French soldier, and noting how Paul states that if it wasn’t for the war the two men could be brothers. However, the article goes to say that this situation is different, not a war based on treaties, but instead, “they are involved in a race war, a civil war driven by intense hatreds …”(pg15) In the end, whether the UN involved themselves or not I feel the outcome would have ended up the same. The scene, where Nino tries to shake Tchiki’s hand and Tchiki refuses saying that there is no point the next time they see each other will be through the sites of a rifle exemplifies this idea. At times it seems as though they may be able to get through the ordeal but then something happens that brings them back to the reality that they are enemies and they hate each other. Now that I have stated that it wouldn’t have ended much differently whether the UN was involved or not, I would like to say that up to the point they were not involved seemed the most hopeful for the two. They were working together and sharing stories. However, that was all done while they each held guns and only with the realization that the only way to make it thought the situation was to work together. In the end, the breakthroughs made during this short truce turned out to be useless as in the end they may have been able to relate to each other but there was no sense of brotherhood or friendship just hatred. They had both experienced war and death and blamed each other. If the UN had not come eventually they would have killed each other in the trench, or one side or the other would have killed them. I think this is obvious because neither soldier offers to help the other one with the original wounds they caused, and “neither expresses regret over the injuries he has caused.”(pg16) The other interesting point shared in ‘No Man’s Land’ was the viewpoint of Sergeant Marchand, the UN officer on the ground in Bosnia. He offers that, “You can’t be neutral facing murder. Doing nothing to stop it is taking sides.” He sees what is going on in the country and feels like if the UN did more they could stop the killing, he doesn’t believe that doing nothing is the answer. This point is interesting because most people believe that Nations should stay out of the business of other nations; but when the killing could be halted by the intervention of other nations, such as the situation as the one in ‘Hotel Rwanda’, should they intervene despite the negative connotation that accompany such actions? I think the film is attempting to say that other nations don’t get involved when they should, and that this was possibly one time they should. Although the hatred of the Serbians and the Bosnians would be hard to overcome perhaps if the UN had been allowed to intervene the first time they came to the trench the outcome would have been more positive.

    work cited:
    Stewart, Matthew. Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land and the Contemporary War Movie. ‘The Midwest Quarterly. (Pg9-25)

    • Shelly DeWilde says:

      I also believe that the characters would have put each other in an ordeal that ended in tragedy due to their hatred however I believe that the E.U.’s involvement seemed to inflame it, especially considering that the bouncing mine was built by them.
      Marchand’s viewpoint is accurate however he also believes that the U.N. had the power to stop the madmen who are waging this war and manipulating people.
      I believe Tanović had the notion that outside forces could very well be behind the war and that they exacerbate the situation shown through the argument of both Nino and ÄŒiki on the war’s origins and Colonel Soft’s extortion of it. It was a very shady and controversial subject that was not treaded too lightly making this film so interesting.
      I also hold that outside forces should have tried to create an honest dialogue and negotiations although the soldier’s inflamed nationalistic ideal could be proven futile in light of what inevitably happened in the film. War is such a messy business to confer over.

      • Erik Rickards says:

        Shelly, I think much of what made this film so interesting was its depiction of the negative possibilities when outside forces are brought in to mediate. In that sense I feel like this movie may have implied that the conflict should have been left alone– but at the same time, we can see conflicts that we thought we should leave alone turn into global tragedies and embarrassments (Rwanda, Congo, etc). How can we tell when we should intervene in the affairs of other cultures? Or would we be better off always/never intervening? Definitely not an easy question, but the movie forced me to ask it.

        • Shelly says:

          The situation that had happened in Rwanda is different from the war in the Balkans, as every war is. I can’t tell what situations to respong to because it is hard to make a standard for wars. There are a myriad of variables that should be answered such as the reasons why it started, what are both sides looking for, what materials would they like from the outside mediator (weapons?) and the countries themselves need to try to rationalize why outside forces would want to interfere. Could it be to profit from the war thus extending it or could it be relief to citizens who’ve been in the crossfire, it seems like it can be both in the film however the interest gained from it outweighed the relief it gave to the actual victims.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brittany: I guess you do make a good point that whether the UN involved themselves or not the outcome would have been the same, the Bosnians and Serbians were probably not going to come to a peace agreement, they just hated each other too much. They were involved in a race war where in the case of the Bosnian genocide, the Serbians were specifically seeking out the Bosnian civilians to murder and torture. The devastation and hurt they had experienced was unforgiveable and they could not get past their hatred of one another for this reason.

    • Joseph says:

      This is the catch-22 the United States constantly finds itself in- when we don’t intervene, we are seen as callous and distant, when we do, we are seen as imperialist and opportunistic. It is difficult to witness the suffering of innocent people, but how do we choose who we should help, and to what extent? To date, it does not seem that the UN has a very good track record of stopping human rights abuses, and perhaps this is due to their hesitance to use force in an offensive capacity. They cannot be peacekeepers if neither side wants peace.

    • Shelina Turner says:

      I agree with your statement about the hatred between the two would have been fatal either way. I was highly optimistic when they seemed to put their differences aside and try to figure a way out. They were talking about where the Serbian soldier was from and made the connection of a mutual friend. I was easily drawn in for the drama when they end up fighting again. I wanted to yell at the TV and make them get along. Very well writen film that played on emotions as well as anti war messages, and showing what extent the press will interject themselves to get their stories just for the viewers at home.

  14. Haley says:

    Has it not been working?

  15. aahewitt says:

    I can see your comment

  16. Joseph says:

    Checking in..

  17. Jessica says:

    I can see your comment as well.

  18. Heather Corcoran says:

    Comment seen, making sure mine will post.

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