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"WELCOME TO SARAJEVO"
(1997) (Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Extreme Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Moderate Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A reporter covering the war in Bosnia breaks the journalistic boundary and uses his stories in an attempt to help orphaned children out of the country.
PLOT:
Sarajevo is a city under siege. Proclaimed by the United Nations to be "just" the fourteenth worst "hot spot" in the world, warring factions have destroyed most of the city and civilians live in constant fear of sniper attacks. It's in the middle of this madness that an international team of reporters tries to inform the world of the horrors occurring there.

Michael Henderson (STEPHEN DILLANE) is a British ITN reporter who, along with his cameraman Greg (JAMES NESBITT), producer Jane Carson (KERRY FOX) and new Sarejevan driver, Risto (GORAN VISNIJIC), tries to capture the "best" war footage while avoiding being killed. At night they hang out in bars and trade stories with American journalist Flynn (WOODY HARRELSON) who's better known back home than the stories he's covering. When they come across an orphanage in the middle of this hellish locale, Michael's journalistic distance is shattered. He feels for these orphaned kids, particularly nine-year-old Emira (EMIRA NUSEVIC), who makes him promise to take her back to London when he leaves.

When Nina (MARISA TOMEI), an American social worker arrives with plans on removing some of the kids, Michael sees his chance. He then risks a harrowing journey out of Bosnia with Emira and the other children. After finding that the girl's mother is still alive, Michael must then return to get her permission for him to adopt Emira, and this trip is as perilous as the last.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they have some interest in the Bosnian story or are fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For brutal images/war atrocities and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • STEPHEN DILLANE plays a dedicated reporter who works hard to help children safely leave a war-torn country.
  • EMIRA NUSEVIC plays a young girl who desperately wants to leave the war-torn city.
  • WOODY HARRELSON plays an American reporter occasionally criticized for "hot dog" reporting, and who is known for some heavy drinking.
  • MARISA TOMEI plays a social worker who arrives to help remove children from harm's way.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    This film, based on the novel "Natasha's Story" by British ITN journalist Michael Nicholson, is a story of breaking free of a place filled with bleak darkness and arriving into a light, peaceful world. It's also about how even the most hardened journalists can be affected by the news they are covering. And how could someone not be affected by this story? What makes the movie such a downer is that it deals with the civilian victims of the Bosnian War, and includes a great deal of real footage shot during that conflict. Thus, occasionally we're subjected to scenes of horrible carnage that remind us that we're not just watching a piece of fiction. These events did really occur and the visual images are devastating to watch. Although it's a depressing movie for the most part, at least it ends on an up note that makes it somewhat more bearable to witness.

    Even so, a film dealing with warfare will of course show many victims, but this isn't like the old WWII movies. People don't get shot and then just fall down (and not bleed). This one graphically shows the wounded and dead and many of the scenes might be too much for some viewers. It will, however, show impressionable minds the real results of such violence (compared to the fake, cartoon material usually seen in movies). By showing such footage, the film not only highlights the atrocities of war, but also shows what the journalists, who cover such events, must deal with on their "tour of duty."

    The performances are good and it's nice to see that big stars such as Academy award winner Marisa Tomei and Academy award nominee Woody Harrelson accepted supporting, and not leading, roles. This allows the story to sit front and center -- not the stars themselves -- and instead uses them as attractive, but effective set dressings. Actually shot in Sarajevo just months after they reached a resolution, and while the city was rebuilding, the amazing performance comes from young Emira Nusevic, who lived there and survived the siege when she was five. Lead actor Stephen Dillane gives a great performance as the reporter with a weak spot for the kids, and he easily allows the audience to sympathize with his plight and motivation. His journey with the kids out of the city and through the country is quite a harrowing sequence, and the other war scenes are highly effective as well.

    Unfortunately, the same fate will probably befall this film as did the coverage of the war itself. Since the actual events didn't make the top of the news very often -- as happens in one of the film's early scenes -- it's doubtful that audiences will care much about seeing the film. All of that's too bad because -- although it's a grim look at war -- it's a more accurate view than most people have seen and it might just open some eyes to the atrocities that war brings with it. Due to its decent performances and a strong and completely believable story, we give this depressing, but ultimately uplifting film a 7.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Since this film deals with war, it includes several scenes of violence and many scenes of gory, gruesome footage that will be too intense for most kids and for many adults. Much of what's seen is actual real footage, and that makes it that much worse. We see scene after scene of dead bodies and the result is quite sickening (as it should be). However, that exposure might be good for older kids so that they understand that life is fragile and that people are indeed mortal.

    Profanity doesn't greatly occur, but there are some uses of the "f" word. While there's some male frontal nudity, it's all shown in a war context with no sexual overtones. Although it's doubtful many kids will want to see this, we strongly suggest that you read through the scene listings before anyone in your family sees it due to the graphic nature of the war-related atrocities.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Michael, Greg and Flynn drink whisky in a bar along with others. Flynn makes a point of marking the bottle down to the point where they'll drink it to, and does the same in another scene.
  • Michael and Flynn drink shots of liquor in another scene.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • The film is filled with a great deal of gruesome and extremely bloody footage (some that's actually real) of many people who've been gunned down by snipers and others. We see bloody wounds (ie. A person's foot dangles from a badly mangled ankle, we see two dead babies, etc...) as well as copious amounts of blood on the street.
  • We also see many emaciated prisoners who are not much more than skin and bones.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously the snipers and others involved in the war have extreme cases of both as they make civilians their targets.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • There are many scenes where snipers shoot at and occasionally hit and kill people.
  • The gruesome footage of the many wounded and dead people will also be upsetting to many viewers.
  • Michael, Nina, and the children try to leave on a bus and have several tense encounters with soldiers, including one where they take several children away.
  • A soldier executes a group of men chained together, shooting them one by one. We then see a pile of dead bodies indicating he's killed even more people.
  • Michael and Risto encounter some black marketeers who rough them up a bit and hold guns on them.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Rifles: Used to wound or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrase: "Idiot."
  • Some soldiers celebrate by shooting their guns into the air.
  • Flynn chops off the top of an egg and eats the raw contents in one gulp.
  • Michael asks Risto if he's killed someone and he answers that he has and that it wasn't so bad, and was "therapeutic."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is a mild amount of such music in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 7 "f" words (1 used sexually and 1 in subtitles), 2 "s" words, 1 ass (used with "hole"), 1 hell, 1 crap (in subtitles), and 2 uses of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "Oh Christ" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A fully naked man runs down the street after a bus and we see full frontal nudity.
  • We see male full frontal nudity of some dead war victims as they're put on stretchers.
  • SMOKING
  • Risto and Nina smoke in several scenes.
  • Some of the journalists/media people (including Michael and Flynn) smoke during the film.
  • Other minor characters (soldiers, etc...) also occasionally smoke during the film.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The film deals with many children orphaned by the war and in one scene the journalists have to tell a little girl that her parents were killed.
  • Michael has to find Emira's mother and get her to sign release papers that will allow him to adopt the girl.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The history of Sarajevo (that once hosted the Winter Olympics) and its downfall into a war-torn city.
  • Michael asks Risto if he's killed someone and he answers that he has and that it wasn't so bad, and was "therapeutic."
  • VIOLENCE
  • In general there are many shots (some of which are real footage) of warfare in Sarajevo. Buildings are destroyed and people are shot and killed. We see the ruins along with the graphically bloody wounded and dead victims.
  • A woman is shot dead by a sniper who also fires at others in a street.
  • Michael asks Risto if he's killed someone and he answers that he has and that it wasn't so bad and was "therapeutic."
  • A soldier executes a group of men chained together, shooting them one by one. We then see a pile of dead bodies indicating he's killed even more people.
  • Michael and Risto encounter some black marketeers who rough them up a bit and hold guns on them.
  • A man is shot dead in his apartment by a sniper.



  • Reviewed October 10, 1997

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