Pretty Village, Pretty Flame
Details: (R18+), 115 mins, Serbia, English
Synopsis: The film (based on a true story) concerns a group of Serb soldiers before, during and after their military service, told in flashback through the eyes of Milan (Dragan Bjelogrlic) while lying in his hospital bed, badly wounded. The characters strive to maintain a sense of humour during a lengthy stand-off in a tunnel, with Muslim soldiers waiting outside. The continuing problem of accountability is highlighted, opponents each deny responsibility for atrocities which have affected the other. The local aspect of the conflict has devastating consequences for the soldiers; childhood friends, brothers in law find themselves fighting on opposite sides. An American female journalist becomes trapped with the Serbs when hiding in a truck, and is forced to confront the brutal realities and uncertainties of this vicious civil war.
A dedicated Serbian soldier fondly recalls the pre-war tranquility of a unified Yugoslavia.
How is it possible that a savage civil war could break out in a sophisticated European country at the end of the 20th century? Pretty Village, Pretty Flame by Montenegran director Srdjan Dragojevic goes a very long way towards answering that question. In the beginning, Milan, a Serb, and Halil, a Muslim, are lifelong friends. They live in the same tiny village, they play basketball together, they are drinking companions. This powerful film charts the fortunes of the two men, especially Milan - inexorably, it depicts how friends become enemies... Pretty Village, Pretty Flame doesn`t sheet home the blame for the Bosnian tragedy. It concentrates on the effects of the war on the victims, both civilians and members of the armies of mercenaries that formed to fight one another. Even an American woman journalist becomes involved when, in the film`s harrowing and protracted climax, a group of Serbs are trapped in a tunnel by Muslim forces - ironically, a tunnel opened by president Tito in 1971 as a symbol of friendship between the different ethnic groups who made up the former Yugoslavia. This film, so very much better in my view than Emir Kusturica`s seriously flawed Underground, is not only a terribly visceral and involving war film, it`s also a serious, humane and at times grimly funny film which brings tragic events vividly to the screen.
Watch Films Online
Films on SBS TV
SBS Film Guide to...
Celebrate Australian filmmaking with this home-grown season. Starts May 25.
A month of movies with an edge. Saturday nights in April.