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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » No Man's Land
No Man's Land
MGM // R // April 9, 2002
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 26, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:


Only a few days ago, Danis Tanovic's first feature, "No Man's Land", won the Best Foreign Film Oscar over the "Amelie", which seemed to be favored to win. The film is a dark and fascinating tale set in the middle of the war between Bosnia and Serbia. The film opens with a group of Bosnian soliders walking through the forest at night, trying to find their way through the dense fog. When the morning comes and the mist clears, they find themselves fired upon by Serbian forces, leaving only one survivor, Chiki (Branko Djuric).

Stuck in a trench between the two forces, Chiki settles in to defend himself when two Serbian soliders enter the trench. They place one of Chiki's thought-dead friends on a mine, then find out that Chiki is also hiding nearby. Chiki kills one of the soliders, but wounds the other. The two engage in a bit of a standoff and then find out that the thought-dead friend is still very much alive, gaining conciousness only to find that if he moves, the mine goes off. Both armies watch from either side as the three are forced to wait things out. All of this happens within the first third of the picture.

The UN and members of the press eventually find out about the situation and circle the area, turning the situation into an international incident, but not managing to help things any. The dialogue between the characters is wonderfully written, cleverly going between dark humor, discussion about who is responsible for the situation and there's even one point where the Bosnian and Serbian find out that they knew the same girl in a small town. Even though they share similarities, they still can't manage to really get along.

Tanovic's film is really one of the finest debuts that I've seen in quite some time. The film is about 98 minutes and flies by with almost incredible speed, mainly because the characters and situations are so involving and incredibly tense. The performances are award-worthy and Tanovic keeps piling on new layers, new compilications, new elements to the absurdity of the situation. While the picture seems like a play, the 2.35:1 cinematography gives the situation scope and captures the beautiful countryside quite well. The film is consistently powerful and often horrifying, saddening and infrequently, even darkly amusing in the midst of a terrible situation.


The DVD

VIDEO: MGM presents "No Man's Land" in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan; each edition is included on its own side of the DVD. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is very good, but falls short of greatness due to a few imperfections scattered throughout the film. Sharpness and detail are very good throughout, with only the exception of the dark, foggy opening, which looks unsurprisingly murky.

Flaws are a bit more apparent early in the film. There seemed be some very slight pixelation in the fog, but no pixelation was seen otherwise in the film, nor was any edge enhancement. Some print flaws are visible early in the film as well, including a few noticable marks and specks. These flaws also cleared up quickly, as the majority of the movie after the opening was free of any sort of wear.

Colors remained vivid and natural throughout, with no flaws apparent. Flesh tones also looked accurate and natural, as well. This isn't a presentation without a few minor problems, but I was definitely pleased with MGM's work.

SOUND: "No Man's Land" is presented in Serbo-Croatian Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is, frankly, pretty surprising. Being a small picture, I was expecting a fairly subdued soundtrack. Yet, from the opening moments where the tribal score starts up, this film makes it clear that the sound will be a considerable factor. The film's early battle sequences are remarkably presentation, as gunfire comes from the surrounds and any explosions offer strong bass. When things become more dialogue-driven, the film still provides a solid amount of outdoor ambient sounds. Dialogue and sound effects remained clear and crisp throughout.

MENUS: Very basic film-themed images serve as menus.

EXTRAS: Definitely the most dissapointing aspect of the DVD - the only supplement is the film's trailer.

Final Thoughts: "No Man's Land" is easily one of the best pictures that I've seen in quite a while. Some people may pass this by due to subtitles, but they would be missing a fantastic, highly involving film that everyone should see. MGM's DVD is a bit dissapointing in the way that I would have liked to have more supplements, but the audio/video is very good. Definitely a must-see.

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