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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.

"The Vietnam war spawned a series of films that served as cathartic vehicles for Americans - political statements of damnation - and usually managed to convey the pathetic futility of all wars. But that cliché is worth repeating again in the context of the Bosnian civil war, which, unlike Vietnam, was a conflict that turned buddies against each other, neighbours into enemies, and the closeness of the kin made the atrocities even more unbearable to contemplate. Pretty Village Pretty Flame, while shattering in many respects, deals so humanely (and with some solid humour, at times) with its subject matter that it ends up rather less depressing than it might have, and far less derivative. Besides, this is Europe, close-knit, white and part of the first world.

The structured flashbacks take time to get used to, but there is a valid cinematic purpose in the device, namely to underline the relationships between men who played, laughed and drank together, but are now deadly enemies.

The flashbacks often pass for actual footage, but without jarring against the rest of the film. Characterisations are strong and accessible, despite the subtitling, and the various moods of the film translate effectively into engrossing cinema."
Andrew L. Urban

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(former Yugoslavia)

CAST: Dragan Bjelogrlic, Nikola Pejakovic, Nikola Kojo, Zoran Cvijanovic, Dragan Maksimovic, Milorad Mandic, Dragan Petrovic, Velimir-Bata Zivojinovic

DIRECTOR: Srdjan Dragojevic

PRODUCERS: Goran Bjelogrlic, Nikola Kojo

SCRIPT: Vanja Bulic, Nicola Pejakovic, Srdjan Dragojevic


EDITOR: Petar Markovic

MUSIC: Laza Ristovski, Aleksander Sasha Habic


RUNNING TIME: 128 mins


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 1997 (Melbourne)
November 6: Sydney, Adelaide

Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles.

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