No Man’s Land – Universal issue.

No man’s land.

” The war was never a good subject for a feature film. But frankly, my deepest opinion is it’s not the subject that matters, it’s the way you treat the subject that matters.” – Director Danis Tanovic.

History always have specific pieces of land in dispute, where in two countries/states claim the ownership. There are so many examples like Kashmir, Kachatheevu, Sikkim, Belgaum [ inter states ]. This is common and every nation has its own no man’s land. This film is based one such NML in Bosnian and Serb border. I would like to use the famous dialog of ‘Flags of our fathers’

“Every jackass thinks he knows what war is.. Especially those who’ve never been in. We like things nice and simple, good and evil, heroes and villains. There are plenty of both. Most of the time, they are not who we think they are “

May be, whenever I come across any war based movies, I quote this dialog. Because the truth is war is just one more genre of movie for us. However, the movies make us to think more than when we read a news/book or going through a debate. There are 2 sets of people involved in the war. The authorities who decide when n where to attack and the other set of people who just follow the orders in the name of country/God/King.

The other important aspect f this film is land mine. [ தின‌த்த‌ந்தில‌ வ‌ருமே.. இளம் க‌வ‌ர்ச்சி க‌ன்னி வெடி ஸ்ரேயா‍‍ன்னு.. அதில்லை.. இது கண்ணி வெடி. 🙂 ]. The total land mines planted in the world as per a reading are around 100 million. Don’t worry, if you don’t understand where Bosnia is and Why they fight with Serbs; it doesn’t matter. You can think of any two fighting organizations and watch this movie. After all, we don’t worry much about who dies at the end. Also, don’t anticipate this as a documentary explaining why they fight and expect the fight to conclude at the end with ‘Malarodu malar ingu’ as in BOMBAY.

No Man’s land/2001/Bosnian
Written & Directed by Danis Tanovic.
Music : Danis Tanovic


A group of Bosnians travelling to their other camp, miss thier way out and get trapped in their enemy territory. After a clash, one of the Bosnian [ Chiki ] of them escape and hide in a trench. To confirm the finish of intrusion,2 serbs are sent to the the trench. They find one another Bosnian [ Cera ] and capture him inthe trench. To play, the serb plants a ‘bouncing mine’ under Cera. The idea is if Cera moves or moved, then the mine will explode making an impact within a greater radius. This depicts a problem and the personnel hiding in the trench. 2 Bosians and 2 Serbs with guns. Each one of them believes that they are right. What do they do is the first part of the story.

The next part involves UNPROFOR [ United Nations Protection Force ] and a news channel’s English reporter who anticipates for some breaking news or live event in the unmanned place. What happens is the story and to my surprise, it has the utmost turns and twists, maximum possible with this minimal scope of the story.

View :

It is very easy to turn this script into a commercial action thriller types with Will Smith or some hero successfully completes the mission [ in the end kissing the news reporter 🙂 ]. That might have entertained us but never makes us to think or read further. The thin line diverting from action thriller makes this war drama a memorable one. The movie questions a lot. A good cinema makes the audience to think or refer something after watching the movie.

The director is from Bosnia and surprisingly this doesn’t lead him to make a biased movie. Instead, he shows how UN works. He treated the subject with humor sprinkled in the movie. Every scene has an interesting twist or at least a lead to something else. The pain, pride, friendship, enmity among the soldiers are shown visually and with dialogues. Things which the Serbs do [ planting mine under Cera ], lead to many complications. The involvement of UN soldiers, their restrictions in unknown fields and their bureaocratic leaders sitting in high command offices, making their spontaneous decisions [ passing the buck ! ] are subtly inserted in the story.

The Global News channel reporter is fantastically captured [ couldn’t resist thinking of our NDTV/IBN/Times reporters anticipating breaking news or live events ]. As a news machine, she wants to tape everything on the war ground. For media, it’s just the news. The involvement of layers like army superiors, UN army, UN superiors, news reporters change the course of action. So whatever we see or read as the news is definitely not the truth or as it is exactly happened. It is applicable right from the life of Kings to the recent happening in Srilanka. We assume that we know the truth which actually may not be.

Though the movie depicts this situation with humor, I would not want to divert the readers that this as a lighter movie. It’s a kind of black comedy [ Ex : enna elavu kazhuvara keiyila thinganum.. avlo dhaan – Esakki in Devar Mahan ]. The Bosnian and Serb soldier confront in many places and sometimes find common things between them.

The arguments the soldiers have, the problems of Cera lying on the mine, their wish to smoke, Cera trying to take a leak, cold-blooded UN operations, inhuman hunger for news by the media and so many other aspects leave us stunned. Cinematography and sound editing are the notable work in this movie. Sudden gun shots, bombing walking on gravel – all such minute sounds are perfectly used.


This movie won the academy award for the best foreign language film in 2001. As I mentioned, the war concept shown is universally true and people from any part of the globe can relate the story with the war, they know – this can range anything from Hogenakkal water issue to Israel-Palestenian conflict.[ Pazham vere.. aana prachnai onnu dhaan 🙂 ].

A wonderful war drama which has to be defintely in your list of movies.

கொலை குத்த‌ம்னா.. யுத்த‌மும் குத்த‌ம். Isn’t it ?!” – Sriram Abhayankar. [ If you ask me who’s this, I’ll better stop writing about cinema !!! ].



  1. Avenger by Frederick Forsyth is also based on Bosnian conflict. It is a thriller and Forsyth too does lot of research and explains the reason for conflict. I would like to watch this movie now that you have risen the expectations in terms of twists and turns.

  2. Kathir .. Thanks for your comments and introducing 'Avenger'.

  3. thankfully Bosnia-Serbia conflict is resolved and a separate state (nation) of Bosnia is created under UN pressure.the Serbian govt's armed forces killed more than 50,000 bosnian muslims who were also helped by some islamic countries who armed them.Bosnians Vs Serbians was as violent and extremely tragic as the serbians Vs Croatians and also Hutus Vs Tutsis, Sinhalese Vs SL Tamils internal wars.

    anyway, instead of commenting about the bog, i have deviated.Any movie that gets an academy award as best foreighn film wud be a good one. If that gets a stamp of approval from Visu, then it is doubly guaranteed to be eminently watchable.though i wud settle for a light hearted film with Will Smith, completing the movie with a kiss to the reporter, than carrying the disturbing image and storyline of a film like 'No Man's land", i am game for watching it in the company of friends!

  4. Thanks Rajan.. There's one more wonderful film available on Rwandan genocide [ where 1 million tutsi people are killed by Hutus ] – The film is HOTEL RWANDA [ Pochudaa.. innoru post ready 🙂 ].

    To add action film techniques, the hero would have cut a red or blue wire to defuse any dangerous explosive in the world [ with sweating face ]. How simple life is 🙂

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