Filmed entirely on the site of this war's ashes, "Vukovar"
slashes through the headlines with a horrific picture of friends
and acquaintances pitted against each other for reasons buried
deeply in a historic patchwork of ethnic hatreds. With perfect
insight, someone asks, "If each of us has 20,000,000 ancestors,
how is it possible for anyone to think he is of pure extraction?"
The film opens with two families celebrating the marriage of
Toma (Boris Isakovic) and Ana (Mirjana Jokovic) in Vukovar, a
beautiful town of 50,000 by the edge of the Danube. On their
wedding day, a marching throng brings the instant realization
that their world will be shattered.
"We're no longer fat or thin, or romantic or serious;" Toma
says; "we're either Croats or Serbs." As with yesterday, today,
and forever, it is a country of innocents caught in a war
fomented by political zealots.
We in the audience watch as these families lose each other,
and then we watch the absolute destruction of the city and
landscape that was such a part of their being. And we watch the
brutalization of two young mothers who knew joy a short time ago
and now will never know it again. Why is it that war always
bestows this terrible permission on sadists?
"Vukovar" will stand as one of the most powerful antiwar
films ever made because it takes a stand only against the
intolerable human cost of war. It is a measure of the film's
power and fairness that both the Croatians and the Serbs are
furious at it. It begs the world to fight hatred with truth.
This is a war being fought not with the impersonal
annihilation of modern weaponry, but with machine guns in the
streets. It has the terrible tragedy of intimacy. These are their
streets, their villages, their families. "Vukovar," Ana says,
"has become a graveyard."
Toma is a deeply good and kind and gentle man--the kind of
soldier who shoots to miss because he can't kill. Ana turns
quickly from a playful young girl in love to a woman whose heart
may as well have been ripped from her body. Superb performances
by these two young actors ensure the strength of this film.
You may leave the theater still bewildered as to the why of
this war, but you will be in a rage at the fact of it. On some
very deep level, you will be a different person after you see
this film. Once again, a very important independent film has
brought to us truth and reality that scar the soul and stun an
audience to absolute quiet. Please see it.