IN the LAND of BLOOD and HONEY
Written and directed by Angelina Jolie
History was made when Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to win an Oscar for The Hurt Locker in 2009. Women behind the camera have long been making their mark on cinema, just mostly ignored by the mainstream. In 2011 a wide variety of award worthy films were helmed by women including Phyllida Lloyd - The Iron Lady, Lynne Ramsey - We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Madonna – W.E. However the most interesting, impressive and unexpected is the directorial debut of Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie. Her controversial war film In the Land of Blood and Honey captured the world news when Jolie was denied access to film in Bosnia where she se the film. The final film (in which she shot two versions) is clearly influenced by her humanitarian work but also one of the most impressive directorial debuts films from an actor.
It’s 1992 Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) a Bosnian, woman is preparing for a date with a soldier at a local club. Ajla and Danijel (Goran Kostic), an officer in the Serbian army experience a connection until at that moment the Bosnian war begins. Ajla is later taken from her home as is the rest of her people and put into camps, luckily she is placed near Danijel who attempts to protect her without being obvious, sparing her from rape to begin with. Terrified of him now that she sees what his Serbian forces are doing, his protection comforts her and bring guilty feelings that she is being spared. Their brief connection, turns into a need for each other but eventually neither can ignore the allegiance the feel to their conflicting blood lines.
Some of the greatest romance’s were set in war time (The English Patient, In Love & War) but Jolie takes that concept so much further exploring how two lovers on opposite sides can both come together but never fully be at one because of their opposition. There is never an admission of love between Ajla and Danijel and I think that is purposeful, the intimacy evolves from tender to passionate then aggressive. In one love making scene Danijel whisperes in her ear “Why couldn’t you have been a Serb”.
The film has been touted as this extremely violent movie, and while it is violent, there are far more graphic war films among us. In an attempt to defend the cause he is caught up in Danijel explains to Ajla “It’s all political, not murder”, to which she replies “It’s for political gain… and it’s still murder”. I found the pace of the film very slow and even the editing uneven. Jolie keeps the audience in the dark as far as a conclusion goes, in a scene where the two are slowly dancing you could easily see the film ending there, but Jolie has a devastating message to convey in her final act.
Final Thought – Angelina Jolie delivers an impressive writing and directing debut film that display’s creativity and intelligence.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Rob Bradley