I’ve beenlooselyfollowingdevelopments concerning Angelina Jolie’s Bosnian flick, a directorial debut for which she significantly has chosen the safe concept of Serb-vilification. This past week saw some very high-profile updates to the story.
Bosnia’s culture minister revoked the rights for Jolie to shoot in the country “after objections from an association of female victims of the Bosnian war. The untitled film project reportedly tells the story of a Serbian man and Bosnian woman who fall in love in the middle of the 1992-1995 war,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“They no longer have the authorisation to shoot in Bosnia. They will have it if they send us the scenario with a story which will be different from what we have been told by people who read it,” [Gavrilo] Grahovac told the radio…[R]evoking the filming license was a way to “express our disapproval for the shooting of a movie which does not tell the truth and hurts a large number of victims”.
Last week, Grahovac reversed his decision after he saw the script, which apparently complied with the order that it be “different from what we have been told” so far. Indeed, it seems he found it most acceptable. Let’s see if we can figure out what made it so acceptable.
To reassure the Bosnian-Muslim public, the following tidbit was released:
A Serbian soldier, the hero [protagonist] of Angelina’s story, at the end of the film kills his big love — a young Muslim girl — who he previously rescues from captivity.
…According to the claims from a crew member based in Hungary, the screenplay is deemed to shock cinema-goers.
“It is true the story is about Bosnian girl who falls in love with her rapist. The plot involves the male character’s urge – fuelled by love – to put her away somewhere safe and she follows him. He then places her in a remote place far away from other prisoners, whom she had previously been with. He brings her food and other necessities,” says the unnamed source.
Next on in the film’s storyline, the girl falls in love with her Samaritan, which is followed by a twist to the plot.
“Facing a fierce bombing raid both of them take shelter in a nearby church, with a great number of Serbian soldiers dying. That is when he suspects it was she who disclosed the location to the aggressors and hatred grows into the most dominant emotion. Eventually he kills the girl and surrenders to foreign soldiers – the peace-keeping forces – and admits to being a war criminal. […]
Well that certainly simplifies things. All you have to do is reveal that the “good” Serb is a villain like “the rest”…Problem solved.
(Note: Gavrilo Grahovac is probably not a Muslim himself — perhaps Croatian or of “mixed Yugoslav” background — but he has Muslim masters to serve in the government, and naturally the Croats and Muslims are both interested in maintaining the official truth about the lone villain of the Bosnian war: the Serb.)
There is still some question over whether the romance starts with the Serb raping the girl or not. The leaked information above seems to suggest that they do meet through the traditional Serb-raping-Muslim notion, but last week Jolie denied this (perhaps she recently amended the script for the ministry’s benefit):
…”It’s very simple,” she says during a break in shooting Friday. “There was a nasty rumor that it was about a relationship that started with a rape and torture — and it’s not.”
More than 100,000 died in the 1992 war that exploded between ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia after the collapse of Communism. Serbian soldiers raped tens of thousands of Bosnian-Muslim women ™*, leading to war-crimes trials, and wounds that remain painful today.
“It’s a relationship that starts in the scene we’re shooting today — in a club, before the war. The main characters begin with lovely, happy, beautiful singing and dancing. It’s a normal relationship in that way, how it begins.”
The idyllic prelude shatters. “The film is about the experience that a lot of different people, on all different sides, have as war takes its toll,” Jolie says. “A couple that maybe would have lived a certain life, had the war not begun, end up having a very different story because of the war.”
Jolie doesn’t blame war survivors for being concerned. “Everything is to be expected when you do films about heavy subject matters that have to do with something so sensitive and so recent,” she says. “It’s absolutely to be handled as delicately as possible.”
As delicately as possible indeed. There certainly won’t be any Muslim bomb threats on movie theaters over this one. For a long time, Serb-demonization has kept us safer than we otherwise might be.
Saying pretty much this exact thing last week was a Bosnian-Muslim actor in the movie, according to an LA Times blogger named Zoran Cirjakovic, who agreed:
…The controversy over the film has yet to fade from the headlines in Bosnia. But local newspapers this week published some accounts of the script that seemed likely to lessen the outrage of Bosnian Muslims.
On Monday Dnevni Avaz, the largest Bosnian daily, ran an article under the headline: “We disclose: The rapist kills the [Bosnian Muslim] woman at the end of Angelina’s film and admits that he is war criminal.”
The article quoted an unnamed source “who had the opportunity to read the whole script” and who “stressed that Jolie portrayed the army that carried out aggression on Bosnia in an exceptionally authentic way.”
The paper also said that Fedja Stukan, a Bosnian actor who is in the film, confirmed “that according to the script, the Serb man kills the Bosniak women at the end.” (Bosniak refers to Bosnian Muslims.) It quoted him as saying “I don’t know what the problem is if a Serb kills a Bosniak. That is what everybody wants to see.”
While that may sound odd, in the complex environment of postwar Bosnia, that is actually what Bosnian Muslims want to see…Bosnian Muslims see the conflict as a war of Serbian aggression; Serbs view it as a civil war. If Serbs are portrayed as aggressors or war criminals in the film, Bosnian Muslims will likely see it as in harmony with their view of the conflict.
And here we thought Grahovac disapproved “the shooting of a movie which does not tell the truth and hurts a large number of victims.” Go figure.
Nor was that Grahovac’s only lie in all this. According to The Hollywood Reporter story cited earlier, he “said the permit has been rejected, because no screenplay had been attached to the application, as required by law.” But here is what the LA Times blog had high up:
Edin Sarkic of Scout Film, who’s serving as executive producer and location manager for the Bosnian part…said that Jolie’s film was being subjected to intense scrutiny and that it was highly unusual to be asked to submit a full script for review. “At no other place in the world they would ask for the script. One is required to give a synopsis, not a script,” he said. “The script is a work in progress. One can change it during the filming, one can change it during the editing. By the premiere, a script can be changed 13,000 times. But they wanted the script and we gave them the script.”
So at least Hollywood productions are now more openly Muslim-compliant.