The movie is strangely lacking in sensationalism. It presents situations and the slow unfolding of the situation. It is the subtlety of the characters' interaction with one another that allows the drama to unfold. The drama begins with human beings and human beings reveal why it is that war is so complex. In the trench in which the movie unfolds, the human element begins to surface. We feel a connection with all of the characters and while we may not understand we begin to feel.
The Serbian and the Bosnian, bitter enemies, find connection on a human plane. One of the Frenchmen working for the 'neutral' United Nation's peacekeeping force shows his human side when he tires of playing passive observing, revealing that not to choose sides is to choose sides. The British television journalist shows her human side when she begins to understand the fine line between good journalism and exploitation. Even the man sitting on the mine shows just how human all of this is. All these elements merge in the trench.
While I watched it in subtitles it became obvious that the language differences revealed just how complicated human interaction can be. Something as seemingly simple as failure to communicate can not only be bridged by tragedy but how failure to communicate can lead to tragedy as well.
From a Western point of view, the world is pretty much black and white, good guys and bad guys, win or lose, right or wrong. This movie slowly reveals, with the 'Western' mode of thought shown as complicating rather than helping, the absurdity of war. There are no easy answers, war is never so cut and dry as we seem to sometimes think.
There are no clear answers, we can never really know or understand what happens to men during warfare and we are ultimately all just human beings in the end with all our complications. War is complicated. So are we. This movie unfolds the complication from a very human point of view that shuns Hollywood's antics. And it does so brilliantly.
The movie has lingered with me in a way few movies have.
Where does truth lie: with those holding the gun wielding power? Was the United Nations, vested with the greatest power in this matter, in fact taking side by literaly taking no side? Wasn't the Commander General of the UN army (a British) who wouldn't like to get involved, wise after all: Wasn't the result much the same despite all the efforts? Were the media, exposing the inertia of UN army, doing anybody any service other than themselves? Was the French troop necessarily more helpful by being warm hearted than the British? If so, where did it lead us to?
The film is more like a play than a movie, but we don't need much settings anyway. There is bloodshed but never too bloody, only sadness and definitely not a boredom. You can easily finish it, so to speak, within one breath. However, note that the photos on the box of the DVD are not equally attractive. It may even be misleading at least until you have finished watching the film.