(1999) TV

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Director :                    Peter Kosminsky
Written by:                 Leigh Jackson
     Michael Dreyer
     Pippa Harris
     Gareth Neame
     Nigel Stafford-Clark
     Jane Tranter

Music:                           Debbie Wiseman
Cinematography:        Richard Greatrex

All images are


Right a couple of things from the outset, no this is not the Walter Hill gang movie (1978) and yes I realise it’s not a film in the strictest sense of the word, I’ll explain…

This two part drama (run time over 3 hours) is surely one of the finest explorations of the horrors of war…ever. Put simply it you’re a war buff and you’ve never seen this movie – you’ve somehow never had clotted cream and strawberyy jam on a scone. Enough preamble – it’s just too important NOT to be on the site…and so here it is.

This film depicts the lives of a company (maybe that’s squadron) of British soldiers on UN duty in former Yugoslavia. We get some back story of their lives in the UK but very quickly we find ourselves on the front line somewhere near Vitez.

Without going into too many plot points it follows the experiences of two officers Lt. Neil Loughrey (Damian Lewis) and Lt. John Feeley (Ioan Gruffudd) and a few of their soldiers Pvt. Alan James (Matthew MacFadyen) and Sgt. Andre Sochanik (Cal Macaninch). It is clear that the British are there to do best and protect the local civilians where they can – however this process is made much harder by the UN mandate and the diplocrats; there to enforce neutrality.

The premise is that if the Brits move people around it’s considered the ethnic cleansing of areas – even if the civilians are going to be killed. This sets the scene for one of the most relentless movies I’ve seen. We are regularly faced with scenes of hopelessness, frustration and desperation that the troops have to go through (not least the effect on the indigenous population.

How this movie differs from many others is that it doesn’t need to show blood/gore or graphic depictions of rape to be horrific – it is the situation that is horrific. We come to it with our sensibilities of right and wrong / chaos and order and we end up screaming at the screen ‘DO SOMETHING’ and yet we know they cannot. Perhaps what is most disturbing about the film is that it is based on true events and so as you watch it with increasing disgust at the UN and the seemingly pointless mandate. Mr Langrubber and a few middle level British officers are the ones you’ll end up cursing at.









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