Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

Panic and the Obtrusive Uncertainty

Why do people do violence to one another? A religious person might say the influence of God or Satan, a more secular individual might blame religion. But ultimately the ambiguity of cause is the very thing that seems to provoke the most strident, and angry, attempts to explain it. And this describes the madness which overtakes the characters in 2011's The Enemy (Neprijatelj) in which a strange, vaguely sinister man is found bricked up in a wall of a factory by Serbian soldiers, just days after the conclusion of the Bosnian War in 1995. The seeming chaos and senselessness that unfolds on a small scale in the film seems to reflect the chaos and extraordinary violence of that larger conflict. It's a fascinating film, like a good Twilight Zone episode, where one possibly supernatural element provokes insight into destructive human compulsions.

The group of soldiers led by the quiet and level headed Cole (Aleksandar Stojkovic) are removing mines from a field they placed themselves during the war, a dangerous task relying on sometimes very hazy memories. In a nearby factory, a couple of them discover a strange man who calls himself Daba (Tihomir Stanic). They find him trapped behind a brick wall in a small chamber. There's no evidence of food or water in Daba's crude prison, just a table, chair, and ashtray. And when they bring Daba back to the burned out house they use as temporary headquarters, he asks for no food or water, only cigarettes.

Daba doesn't say anything overtly insulting but the soldiers seem put off by his quiet, unperturbed manner and his evasiveness. One of the soldiers (Stefan Bundalo) becomes angry when Daba asks if he heard right, that his comrades call him Ass--even though it's true. Daba makes them angry when he casually mentions that soldiers are killers.

Shortly afterwards, another strange visitor arrives, a woman named Danica (Marija Pikic), who demands to know what everyone is doing in her house--apparently it belonged to her and her father before they were forced to flee during the war. Cole finds himself in a somewhat awkward situation made more awkward by the fact that their radio is suddenly unable to make contact with their superiors.

They eventually find at the factory a mass grave of men from all sides of the conflict being guarded by two soldiers, a Muslim from one side of the conflict, Faruk (Goran Jokic), and a man from the Serbian side (Jovica). The two of them were responsible for bricking Daba up and Faruk insists that the man is Satan and that they couldn't kill him because he'd created the world--if they killed him, everyone would cease to exist.

The movie never explicitly asserts whether there really is anything supernatural about Daba. The breakdowns experienced by each character one by one could as easily have rational explanations--each one's insistence that Daba is either a corrupting influence or simply a harmless lunatic exasperating the conflict.

Danica, the only female character in the film, point-blank tells Daba his spell won't work on her--she doesn't say much throughout the film but is perhaps a ghostly representative of the tens of thousands of women who were raped during the Bosnian war as part of a systematic policy enforced by Bosnian Serbs. Though no explicit mention of this is made, one of the soldiers does attempt to rape Danica only to be beaten off by Cole. While all the other characters are torn inside by confused motives, she alone seems to be purely a victim and by the end of the film, she and Daba seem to represent possibly two moral poles.

Both seem to inspire passion by doing very little, doing little more than existing. One soldier describes realising how much guilt motivated his life as a soldier, more of them seem motivated by an ambiguous sense of being unjustly deprived of something they can't quite describe.

The entire movie is available with English subtitles on YouTube:

Twitter Sonnet #704: Lasagne Edition

Spinach grids peer through the big ricotta.
Uncooked mushrooms fall beside the steel pot.
A noodle and parmesan pinata.
It's for mozzarella mobs to besot.
Wet pasta layers lick a soupy sauce.
A boiling marinara IS obscene.
Minced garlic covers no shame to be lost.
Oregano like snow falls so serene.
Now melted cheese memories fade through damp.
Submerged in untimely oven water.
For all people lasagne held its lamp.
Warm carbs to nourish each son and daughter.
A baking pan cools within the furnace.
A web encrusts the small oven lattice.
Tags: movies, neprijatelj, the enemy

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