This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Saturday, 24 November 2012
Savior (sic): Review
I've just been revisiting an old favourite movie, the Bosnian Civil War film "Savior" (sic). It's about an American mercenary (played by Dennis Quaid) called Guy who is in Paris when his wife (played in an utterly forgettable cameo by Natassja Kinski, who still gets major mention in the credits, for some reason) is killed by a terrorist bomb. He runs off to the French Foreign Legion after shooting up the local mosque and ultimately ends up on the Serb side in the Bosnian Civil War, where his hatred of Muslims sees to it that he can shoot a Muslim boy trying to retrieve his goat from across a barrier on a bridge (on the Serb side of the barrier); and to be fair, a flashback shows a friend killed by a grenade thrown by a child. Later - amid scenes of war wreckage - Guy is asked, with another soldier, Goran (who has hacked off a Muslim woman's finger for her ring), to take charge of a young Serb woman, Vera (played brilliantly by Natasa Ninkovic, who gets a place on the credits far below Kinski) and deliver her to her home in a village. The woman is pregnant by a Muslim rapist and on the way, in a tunnel, Goran kicks her repeatedly in the belly until she has a premature delivery. Unable, after all he has been through, to tolerate the scene, Guy shoots Goran, and takes the mother and child on by himself. He discovers soon enough that not just does Vera speak English but also that she hates her newborn daughter because of her part Muslim blood. Vera initially refuses to feed the baby (and there is later a poignant scene of her trying to squeeze milk out of a dry nipple, probably the least sexy breast exposure I've ever seen in a movie) and Guy has to change the baby's diapers (keeping the car keys with himself so she doesn't drive off). Although they make it to her house, her father throws them out, telling her she has been dishonoured by the Muslims and it would have been better if she had killed herself. But Goran's relatives then prevail on Vera's dad and her brother to chase them to get revenge. Vera's mother has given them some milk which she drinks when Guy is away washing diapers - in the absence of a nipple, Guy uses a condom on the feeding bottle to feed the baby. Vera does find some love for her daughter, in a moment when she is about to throw the baby out of the car - but then the father and brother catch up and shoot and injure Guy, Vera throwing herself on top of him to protect him (no, this scene is not corny). Vera's dad is about to shoot them both when the brother dissuades him. Vera and Guy go on, trying to get out of the country, witnessing among other things a hanged Orthodox priest and a destroyed church, not to speak of Croat paramilitaries taking away her father and brother at gunpoint (Quote here: Guy: "Sorry about your Family." Vera: "It's war"). The typical Hollywood movie would have had Guy rescue the men in a blaze of machine gun fire. Here, they just watch. Injured Guy is ultimately taken in by an elderly couple who get him back to some kind of health. When the trio goes on, Guy and the baby hide in an old boat while Vera tries to find transport to the city. She is brought back with other civilians by Croats who proceed to hammer and shoot the civilians to death in a shallow river. The baby begins to cry, but Vera begins to sing a lullaby and the baby stops crying. After the murders are over, a chance sound brings the Croats to the boat. In his fear, Guy nearly smothers the baby. Fortunately, a cat arrives and the Croats think it is it that made the sounds and go away. Somehow, Guy and the baby make it by bus to the city controlled by the UN (paying with a necklace) and here he abandons the baby in a UN ambulance with a note on her saying "Vera". But another passenger, a woman, finds the child and in the last, elegiac scene, joins Guy on the waterfront with the baby, just after he has torn up his soldier's identity card. This is a film of humanity and makes the point that there are losers in war on all sides. No black or white, everything is in shades of grey. No wonder a Bushie (or, then, proto-Bushie, since this film was released in 1998) audience would never have appreciated it. And - thankfully - no romance was artificially created between Vera and Guy. That would have ruined it. A wonderful film, all told, but for the irritant over Kinski's position on the credits.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Nastassja Kinski, Stellan Skarsgard, Natasa Ninkovic, Pascal Rollin Directed by: Peter Antonijevic, Ivana Stevens Produced by: Cindy Cowan, Oliver Stone, Janet Yang