Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut – In the Land of Blood and Honey – fails to start strong despite doing so with a bang.

The year is 1992; the place is Bosnia-Herzegovina; and the Bosnian War is about to begin. We see Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Bosnian Muslim and painter, who lives in an apartment with her sister and infant nephew. Dressed in blue and with painted red lips, Ajla makes her way (sidewalk, summer) to a club, where she meets Danijel (Goran Kostic), a Bosnian Serb dressed in military garb.

The two appear to be dating: Danijel stands so close to Ajla that his nose brushes her hair. The couple begins dancing to some awful music while the rest of the crowd – a mix of shapes, shades and ages – just bobs about, clapping to the beat and eyeing the band. (If this description reads lame, try watching it.) Luckily, a bomb goes off, killing a few and placing the movie on a tragic trajectory.

I’m happy to report that In the Land of Blood and Honey gets better as it goes on. Now look at this tangle of thorns.

Shortly after the bombing, the Bosnian Serb Army rips Ajla and her neighbors from their apartment complex. The Muslim men are then machine-gunned down off screen and the young women, including Ajla, are put onto buses so as to service the Serbian army. And what services do the young officers require? That question is made clear as soon as the trip ends and the women are asked if they can (1) cook and (2) perform in bed.

As soon as the second question is put to one young woman, an officer brutally rapes her before the terror-stricken eyes of the other women. Next up on what appears to be a barbaric assembly line is our lovely Ajla – dark hair, dark eyes and features reflecting the shape of something classical, carved in marble. Just as she is about to be raped, Danijel, who is a commanding officer of this particular regiment, saves her (sort of).

He takes Ajla for his own, so as to protect her. In secret, their newly-forbidden love blossoms into an affair of fear and kisses before turning into something monstrous and self-devouring. But it is through this relationship, in which Marjanovic and Kostic play excellently, that Jolie makes something worth watching.

The most poignant images, for me, had to do with the movie’s use of contrast. The brutality war — mass rape, random, pop shot murder, the use of women as human shields, ethic cleansing – is shown in chiaroscuro against the individual, tender landscape – white hills, white thighs – of Ajla’s nude in the act of love. She is no Barbie or Kardashian; she’s exquisitely human. Jolie, despite having played Lara Croft, has shown she is quite capable of using the female nude in an artful and humanistic way.

Lovemaking, however, is no answer to war. And as Ajla and Denijel’s affair continues, it grows increasingly desperate and deadly. Ajla is torn by feelings of guilt for sleeping with a soldier of the army responsible for “cleansing” her people from the country; Danijel is distraught with his inability to choose between love and tradition.

If you haven’t gotten the impression already, In the Land of Blood and Honey is not exactly easy viewing. In fact, some scenes are likely designed to upset you. Jolie, who also wrote the movie, puts her characters through situations of intense, dehumanizing anguish. You get the impression the movie is just made to make you think: How did such atrocities happen in the 1990s?

Aside from some sloppy scenes, some slightly awkward plot maneuvers and a tone that drones on a bit too long, the movie plays like a polemic focused on getting humanity to respond, despite politics, to the crimes being committed against it.

To my sweet surprise, Jolie has shown herself capable of both writing and executing an intriguing and brutal story without it coming off as too preachy or melodramatic.

If you’re a fan of Jolie, you may certainly want to check this out.

I should say, however, that I’m not sure about the historical context. The movie’s website offers some help, but when I decided to do some reading and documentary watching about the war, I found it got messy and complicated pretty quick. Just so you know, Jolie’s movie probably shouldn’t be taken as historical fact. This does not, I think, discount the movie’s merits; just be careful how you take it.

Comments (8)
  1. Natural_wonder says:

    This is the first I have heard about the movie…..I definately want to see it!

  2. j speedbag 64 says:

    jolie’s acting is a joke and her movie blows……

  3. Mira says:

    I am from Serbia and I like Angelina. Haven`t seen the movie yet, but thank you for a honest comment about historical facts and how they are used in this movie.

  4. Lech says:

    As always – Department of State/CNN version (poor muslims vs. bloodthirsty Serbs)

  5. Tony Ryals says:

    Asra Nomani likes to forget that even according to the ridiculous movie and book supposedly written by Mariane Pearl,(whose role was played so absurdly by the white ‘actress’ Angelina Jolie),that Daniel Pearl’s main reason for being in Pakistan was to investigate Richard Reid ‘the shoe bomber’ who had closer ties to Israel and the securities,(stock),and securirities,(safety),criminals of ICTS International and Menachem Atzmon and the Mossad who controlled Logan Airport,Boston on 9/11/01 and were responsible for the death of 3 thousand human beings in NY WTC that day as well as the million plus slaughtered including thousands of American soldiers killed and wounded as a result of false flag war fraud.When the ugly Hollywood Zionist prostitute Angelina Jolie make MOVIE ABOUT THAT !?

    It’s obvious that justice wasn’t served when another Washington, D.C. and CIA connected Mansoor Ijaz who has been ex CIA director James Woolsey’s partner in stock fraud and money laundering and fraud against Americans through Crescent Hydropolis NY based Bloomberg protected hedge fund, is never mentioned by Zionist shill Asra Nomani when she lays the blame to distract from any real investigation into the death of her supposed friend and WSJ boss Daniel Pearl,( just like Daniel Pearl’s Zionista daddy Judea Pearl seems to be protecting Israelis of ICTS International who allowed Richard Reid to board at De Gualle Airport with his ‘shoe bomb’ one month after allowing the presumed Islamic Saudi Mohamed Atta terrorists to board at Logan Boston on 9/11/01 a month before that. ).
    It was Mansoor Ijaz ‘advice’ and connections in Pakistan that got Daniel Pearl murdered in the first place. And Asra Nomani who was there knows all this and if she was a Wall Street Journal ‘reporter’ she is an embarrassment,(or a good example of the pseudo-journalists WSJ hires),because she doesn’t even know of her fellow Beltway parasite Mansoor Ijaz’ involvement in stock fraud,particularly but not only Crescent Hydropolis,with James Woolsey,Lt.General James Alan Abrahamson and Lt. General Mcinerney on the London AIM stock exchange that had the backing of Dubai war AND MONEY LAUNDERING criminal Sheik Mohamed Al Rashid bin Maktoum whose country sent $100,000 from Pakistani Kalid Sheik Mohamed to Mohamed Atta, pre 9/11, in Venice,Florida where he was hanging out at Jeb Bush’s pal Wally Hilliard’s terrorist flight school,Huffman Aviation.This Snake of Dubai Sheik Mohamed al Rashid Maktoum was then rewarded with over 20% ownership of the U.S.NASDAQ FOR HIS MONEY LAUNDERING BUSINESS IN DUBAI AS A CONSOLATION PRIZE FOR NOT BEING ALLOWED TO BUY CONTROL OF U.S.PORTS THROUGH DUBAI PORTS.Asra Nomani and other phony ‘professional’ reporters made sure to not write about Sheikh Maktoum’s take over of 20%+ of NASDAQ and SEC Chairwoman Mary Scapiro and IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman’s self dealing and millions of dollars for their treasonous act of selling it to him in their roles as FINRA execs before their retired to their Barack Osama Obama approved SEC and IRS positions in the U.S. ‘government’.

    Asra Nomani is a sick joke and she is also the only Moslem I know of, besides Richard Reid ‘the shoe bomber’, who was given VIP treatment and an easy and welcome pass to travel to Israel.Maybe Israel welcomed her because she is such a good Moslem ? Ha.
    Asra Nomani likes to forget that even according to the ridiculous movie and book supposedly written by Mariane Pearl,(whose role was played so absurdly by the white ‘actress’ Angelina Jolie),that Daniel Pearl’s main reason for being in Pakistan was to investigate Richard Reid ‘the shoe bomber’ .And yet if Daniel Pearl had wished to do real investigative journalism re Richard Reid ‘the shoe bomber’, he would have been in his own country of Israel investigating because as any fool who is familiar with the background knows,it was Israel and El Al Airlines and particularly Israeli money launderer and 9/11 mass murder suspect Menachem Atzmon and his ICTS International(who allowed 911 to happen in the first place by allowing Atta and his gang to board flights 175 and 11 from Logan Airport ,Boston on 9/11/901 with their plastic cookie cutters in the first place), who also facilitated Richard Reid’s vacation in Israel,( supposedly to visit Hamas) !
    If you or I were to wanted to enter Israel to visit Hamas do you think Israel and ICTS and El Al would facilitate and aid our visit ? I don’t think so.However if you are Richard Reid the shoe bomber or the great Islamic WSJ ‘reporter’ and Georgetown University journalism fraud Asra Nomani, Israel gives VIP treatment.Why!?
    Why !?

  6. baundri says:

    when i watched the movie in bosnia, nobody in the cinema stood up when it finished, it was quite a dark athmosphere, deep movie
    visit me and my blog

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