Welcome to Sarajevo


Action / Drama / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78% · 36 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 74% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 6.7/10 10 7858 7.9K

Top cast

Marisa Tomei as Nina
Goran Visnjic as Risto Bavic
Frank Dillane as Christopher Henderson
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
807.01 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 43 min
Seeds 2
1.64 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 43 min
Seeds 11

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jovhany 7 / 10

Works in an odd way

On a political level, "Welcome to Sarajevo" almost comes across as pro-Muslim propaganda, thus following the official line that tags the Serbs as the bad guys and the Muslims as the victims (and the Croats as a sinister footnote). People unfamiliar with the conflict will walk away with this general assumption--especially given the common knowlege that the Serbs participated very prominently in the three other Yugoslav wars. But the war was far more complex than that, and no single film has yet to show the startling array of dimensions that fueled the violence in Bosnia in the 90s; none manages to place the violence in a historical context. "Underground" came close, and the last sequence of "Ulysses' Gaze" gave it a good try, but it wasn't really there. (Crowd favorite "Pretty Village Pretty Flame" simply wasn't a good movie, whatever its intentions might have been.) Taken together, though, a picture of Bosnia begins to emerge--one that is decidedly dire and bloody, but one that at least suggests how complex the war was. Round it out with "Vukovar" and "Cabaret Balkan" and you'll have a home video film festival guaranteed to make you kill yourself. Until someone makes a film about pre-war Sarajevo, with its vibrant multi-ethnic communities, cosmopolitan sophistication, elegant boulevards, and generous hospitality (and am I the only one who remembers the Sarajevo Olympics?), cinematic Bosnia will have to be this violent wasteland of human pride and depravity.

On pure film-geek terms, "Welcome to Sarajevo" is a meandering story that doesn't really seem to know what it wants to be: is it a story about gonzo journalists, or about the rescue of a little girl, or about war atrocities? The gonzo journalist angle lasts for about a half hour, and then promptly goes away. Then there's the plot line about the rescue of the girl, which appears somewhat arbitrarily a little late in the game. Once that angle's resolved the movie keeps chugging along, with a thoroughly inconsequential return trip to Bosnia that serves little dramatic purpose except to kill off another character. The war atrocities thread runs throughout the film, but never gels into a story of its own. Given Woody Harrelson's top-billing and his grand entrance, you'd think he and his antics would be important...but they're not. Too many of the scenes go nowhere (did I have to see the bus pulling over so the kids could sleep? I think I could have figured out on my own that children sleep at night); scenes that seem important end up not being so, and some scenes that should be important are utterly forgettable. But still, the prolonged bus ride is dreadful to watch (in the good way--kids in danger, can't beat that for drama), and seeing the girl prancing about the English garden wearing a cute dress and a bow in her hair was enough to give me a sense of relief.

Final note: I can understand the outrage any Serb would feel watching this film. But in a way, maybe that's the point. Everyone should be outraged. Not by the one-sided depiction of the war, but by the fact that the Serbs did commit unspeakable atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia...as did the Croats and the Muslims (yes, even the "victims" took a generous shot at being the monsters). Emira could have been from any one of those groups, and children and adults from all sides of this spectacularly multi-sided war suffered the same as she did. The only other group that gets bad-mouthed in this film is the West. Of the many participants and guilty parties in Bosnia, it is important to realize that not all were Bosnian. European and American officials gave a collective shrug and said, "Not my problem," and all those history lessons were proven to be worthless as we let the Balkan powderkeg explode once again and turned our eyes away from another Holocaust.

Reviewed by SKG-2 9 / 10

Heartbreaking story

Yes, we've seen the story of the detached journalist in a war-torn country who decides not to be detached anymore several times before (UNDER FIRE, SALVADOR). The difference here, however, is at least in films like UNDER FIRE, the enemy was one side of government. Here, the enemy is apathy, because while ethnic cleansing goes on, few care, and we see Henderson (Stephen Dillane) acts not only because he's moved by the child he rescues, but because almost no one else is. The line that perfectly sums it up is when the U.N. delegate calls Sarajevo the 13th worst place in the world, and American journalist Flynn (well played by Woody Harrelson) asks what 12 cities are ahead of Sarajevo, and if it's moving up or down.

I had problems with Michael Winterbottom's previous film, JUDE, because it felt like he didn't have a handle on the material. Here, however, though the story sometimes gets confusing, he is perfectly in tune with the story. A heartbreaking film.

Reviewed by sol- 5 / 10

A reporter who is not just here to report

Sent to Bosnia to report on the war in the early 1990s, a British journalist finds it hard to stay neutral in the conflict in this war drama from Michael Winterbottom. The film is based on the true story of a journalist who adopted a girl orphaned in the war. "We're not here to help; we're here to report" he is reminded early on, but can he just stand by and watch so many children devastated by war? 'Welcome to Sarajevo' is a noble attempt to shed light on a sad chapter in history seldom portrayed on screen, but it is also admittedly a bit of a mess. The story is very unfocused as it tries to cram so much war horror into the plot. The protagonist does not even meet and think about adopting the girl until nearly halfway in and even then there are few scenes of them bonding. His affection for her is never well conveyed and we barely get a sense of her desire to leave the country. Winterbottom's inexplicable choice to only subtitle certain portions of Bosnian dialogue is awkward too and the blaring music soundtrack never quite feels right. Stephen Dillane makes for a decent lead and the film provides an admirable snapshot of 1990s Bosnia, but the overall film unfortunately leaves a bit to be desired.

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