The Blacks

The Blacks


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If war is incomprehensible, dark and dangerous (in a surprising way), The Blacks reflects this. The war is Bosnian? The enemy Serbs? The good guys Croatians?

There are no good guys and you don’t see the enemy and peace is declared 30 minutes into the movie, not that it changes anything.

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Imagine a squad of five (perhaps more) under the command of a grey-haired officer who doesn’t talk much. No one does. Talk, that is.

They are holed up in a makeshift barracks in the woods with a solitary cat and no idea why they are there, or what they are doing. The atmosphere is tense. Trust fades like mist before your eyes. Sooner or later something will blow; sooner or later someone will die – maybe.

If these were British paras, or SAS behind-the-wire assassins, jokes would be flying. Croatians are not like that. There is a fatalistic acceptance about them, like convicts in Van Dieman’s Land.

Despite the truce the officer takes his men out on patrol to blow up a dam and recover three dead compatriots from a minefield. The story is told within the confines of suspicion, in secret.

Writer/directors Goran Devic and Zvonimir Junc remain true to their concept of tension as a threat from the unknown. They risk alienating their audience by explaining nothing. It is a brave move.

Less is more. Less is fearful. Less hides horrors, waiting in the woods. Less creates a canvas of possibilities, blood red and as black as pain. Less incites imagination.

This is a film that will force you to question humanity’s role in the natural cycle of life. Without dependence on animals and plants, man is a murderer.

The Blacks is observational, not judgemental. It catches your breath.

Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2010
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A Balkans war era army unit disintegrates in the woods.
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Director: Goran Devic, Zvonimir Juric

Writer: Goran Devic, Zvonimir Juric

Starring: Ivo Gregurevic, Kresimir Mikic, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat, Niksa Butijer, Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, Stjepan Pete, Sasa Anocic

Year: 2009

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: Croatia

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