DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Welcome To Sarajevo
Welcome To Sarajevo
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // February 3, 2004
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 6, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

A riveting and powerful exploration of the war in Bosnia and the media's involvement in war, director Michael Winterbottom's gritty, urgent 1997 feature "Welcome To Sarajevo" generally went unnoticed by audiences upon release, which is unfortunate. The film focuses on a crew of reporters from America and Britain, including Henderson (the fantastic Stephen Dillane), the reckless, cynical Flynn (Woody Harrelson) and working producer Jane Carson ("Shallow Grave's" Kerry Fox), as well as novice reporter Annie McGee (Emily Lloyd). The focus is, however, on Henderson.

The film succeeds in showing the terror of everyday life in Bosnia when it has essentially turned into a war zone. Tragedies occur on a daily basis and even something as heartwarming as a wedding is ended brutally. The reporters must venture out every morning, record the horrors, then shape the images and stories into a way that, unfortunately, is only about ratings. In one scene, Henderson finds out that his story about Sarajevo will run second to a news piece about the Duke and Dutchess of York. Flynn tells him in a scene early on, "Back home nobody's heard of Sarajevo, but they've all heard of me."

Although Henderson at first chooses to only help, not report, a story leads him to the Ljubica Ivezic orphanage, a shelled building that holds some of the youngest survivors of the conflict. When he makes a promise to help 10-year-old Emira (Sarajevan survivor Emira Nusevic), Henderson makes a desperate attempt - with the help of a relief worker (Marisa Tomei) to get the child out of the country on a convoy to Italy, where they will stay until the war is over.

Although most seemed to react negatively to Winterbottom's attempts to edit the film with a mix of filmed fictional footage and real video footage from the conflict, the result is a film that gives the audience a greater understanding of the horrors of this war, but also adds urgency, intensity and the intended feeling of chaos and of being an observer to this tragic situation. The fictional footage was shot in Sarajevo in 1996, but the story is based on "Natasha's Story", the similar real-life tale that happened to British reporter Michael Nicholson.

The performances are exceptional. Harrelson may have a few darkly funny lines, but he plays them in a more subtle manner than one would expect, with hurt and sadness underlying them. Dillane, who is always excellent (see also "The Hours"), is stellar in what is an award-worthy performance as the hardened, world-weary reporter who chooses to become emotionally involved. Also good in supporting roles are Kerry Fox, Tomei and, in an early performance, Gorjan Visnjic ("E.R.").

Overall, I find it hard to find issues with "Welcome", aside from maybe a couple of questionable musical choices. Technically solid, well-paced (it feels like half its 100-minute running time), superbly directed and acted, this is an extremely involving and heartbreaking picture.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Welcome to Sarajevo" is presented by Miramax in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a mostly good presentation that does a fine job offering the film with a similar quality to what I viewed on the big screen about six years ago. The darker scenes in the film are lit realistically, with slight, natural lighting. Detail is not always strong in these sequences, but the transfer does a clean job of portraying them. Outdoor, daylight scenes are quite well-rendered, with good detail and clarity. The video footage is, as one might expect, rough and grainy.

The transfer seemed to be largely free of the usual faults. A mild amount of edge enhancement was briefly noticed in a couple of scenes and some intentional grain was spotted, but other than that, the picture seemed crisp and clear. No compression artifacts were spotted, nor were any instances of debris seen on the print. The film's largely subdued color palette was accurately presented.

SOUND: "Welcome to Sarajevo" is presented by Miramax in Dolby 2.0. Although I was a little surprised that the film was not presented in 5.1, the film's soundtrack was actually fairly active when played back in Dolby Pro Logic II, with a considerable amount of audio pulled to the surrounds. Audio quality seemed largely satisfactory, with dialogue sounding a little sharp at times, but still easily understood.

EXTRAS: There is only one supplement included on this DVD and while that seems minor, I'm glad that there's anything included, as this could have easily been a completely basic release. The main supplement is "Locked and Loaded", a 23-minute documentary that takes a look at the work of reporters who go into warzones to report and the way that the media shapes the way that audiences see conflicts around the world. The documentary provides interesting and insightful interviews, as well as interesting stories about the experiences of war reporters and how reporting has changed over the years due to advances in technology. The documentary appears to be at least a few years old (done around the time of the film's release), but is still quite informative.

Final Thoughts: "Welcome to Sarajevo" is an excellent effort from Winterbottom, with terrific performances from the cast and strong direction. Miramax's DVD is short on supplements, but provides good audio/video quality for the main presentation. Recommended.

Popular Reviews
1. Godzilla 2000
2. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla / Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
3. They Came Together
4. Wilfred Season 3
5. Rebirth of Mothra / Rebirth of Mothra II / Rebirth of Mothra III
6. Last Man Standing Season 1
7. All That Jazz
8. Graceland: Season 1
9. Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotica Cinema
10. Legend of Hell House


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use