Pretty Village, Pretty Flame

on January 16, 1998 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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  &#160The long-running, bloody Bosnian conflict is the backdrop for this forceful anti-war drama, which opens and closes with newsreel footage of politicians dedicating monuments to friendship among Yugoslavia's various factions. In each case, the dignitary cutting the ribbon cuts himself instead. That gives an idea of the tone of this cleverly named film, which largely takes place in an abandoned tunnel in which a group of Serbs are besieged by Muslim soldiers. But the movie opens in a hospital ward where the tunnel survivors try to keep their old hatreds alive. It also flashes backward to the pre-war relationship between a Serb named Milan (Dragan Bjelogric) and a Muslim named Halil (Nikola Pejakovic) who later become bitter enemies. With some scenes worthy of Vonnegut at his most hallucinatory, "Pretty Village, Pretty Flame" barrels its way forward, almost forcing the audience to pay attention. The film, which won the best film award at the Stockholm fest and is Yugoslavia's foreign-language Oscar entry, is somewhat cliched and a little more pro-Serb than necessary, but it packs a genuine punch. Starring Dragan Bejlogrlic, Nikola Kojo and Velimir Bata Zivojinovic. Directed by Srdjan Dragojevic. Written by Srdjan Dragojevic, Vanja Bulic and Nikola Pejakovic. Produced by Goran Bjelogrlic and Dragan Bjelogrlic. No distributor set. Drama. Serbian-language; English subtitles. Not yet rated. Running time: 128 min. Screened at the Montreal fest.
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