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.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Every now and then a film springs from an awful reality of the present to sear itself on the conscience of everyone who sees it. "Vukovar" is one of these. It is the story of two families caught in the civil war that has destroyed a country and bewildered the world.

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.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 494
Studio : Tara Releasing
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h34m

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