1994 Directed by Marco Bellochio. Starring Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Claire Nebout, Andrzej Seweryn, Grazyna Szapolowska.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Nov. 11, 1994
Bosna! is an impassioned polemic about the ongoing war in the former Yugoslavia. The voiceover narration by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy valorizes the Bosnian resistance and chides the Western world for its lack of response. Images amply document the horrendous brutalities of this war and comparisons are inevitably made between the West's slowness to react here and their similar behavior during the Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust. Many of the sights are indelible: an imprisoned Serbian soldier describing his methods of rape and execution, the hollow eyes and the gaunt frames of concentration camp inhabitants, the voice of Serbian General Mladic ordering his army to shoot at civilians who look like “ants,” the carnage and rubble that makes Sarajevo unrecognizable. Still, one does not need to be a defender of ethnic cleansing to see that Bosna! is hardly an unbiased study. The narration has such a pious tone of moral rectitude that its scathing denunciation of the West becomes more difficult to absorb. The film updates the Holocaust watchers' uniform response of “I didn't know” to one of “I didn't understand” for the Bosnian war. After experiencing this film, it would be forever impossible to claim ignorance. Yet it would be an error to confuse a great cause with great filmmaking.