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Reviews & Ratings for
Welcome to Sarajevo More at IMDbPro »

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Index 55 reviews in total 

32 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

An important movie; wish more people would see it.

Author: vacritic from Roanoke, Virginia
18 January 1999

It seems bitterly ironic that a movie about the war in Bosnia, ignored for the most part by the West, should have been ignored by moviegoers. I don't know what happened to the distribution of this movie (perhaps there is an explanation), but I suspect that many movie-goers just don't want to be troubled by the reality of what happened in Bosnia in the years that the movie so effectively depicts -- 1992-1995. It's a crying shame, because this is a powerful, beautiful story that focuses on a British journalist who must learn how to act on his moral outrage. As a former reporter, I empathized completely with his sense of disconnectedness from the terrible events he witnesses. But as the camera moves through the burned-out rubble of the city and its surroundings, the tension builds toward his inevitable actions and makes plain the movie's moral: that even when we feel we can do almost nothing, we should do whatever tiny bit we can. The message isn't heavy-handed; it is intelligently conveyed through top-notch performances from a solid cast (Woody Harrelson is perfectly convincing as the "cowboy" American journalist) and a script that does justice to the complexity of the Bosnian situation. Real news footage is mixed quite cleverly with the invented -- so well, in some cases, that it's hard to tell them apart. This isn't an easy movie to watch but it's worthwhile for those many of us who become confused and overwhelmed by the Bosnian situation. It's a powerful reminder, too, that being informed isn't enough; action is imperative. I greatly admired this movie.

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28 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A powerful tour through hell on Earth

9/10
Author: Kyle Milligan (toldyaso@planeteer.com) from Toronto, Canada
3 August 1999

What "Welcome To Sarajevo" did was open my eyes and help me realize how fortunate I am. Sarajevo was a peaceful, metropolitan city not unlike many cities in North America. But it is no longer. It's almost too easy to clear your mind of the strife going on in other parts of the world. Sometimes we feel guilty for being so fortunate. Sometimes we feel horror at the news reports of inhuman atrocities. And most times we shut out the reality of it as it is rarely affecting us in a personal way.

This gripping tale of war-torn Sarajevo is told through the eyes of British reporters. It will probably shock, jar and depress you, but it will most certainly increase your sense of global awareness, and instill a better appreciation of the liberties that most of us have taken for granted. Images from concentration camps hauntingly mimic those from fifty years ago.

This film is based on an amazing true story of one man's personal involvement and promise to rescue one refugee child and the great lengths to which he must go to deliver her from a war zone.

I caught this film in its limited theatrical run following its inclusion in the 1997 Toronto Film Festival. I exited the theater with my wife in a staggering awe-struck state. No one could fully communicate what it would be like to live in a war zone, but this film gives you a potent taste without pulling any punches.

What this means is that most people will likely find it difficult to recommend this film to friends. It's not an uplifting tale, but it is an extremely important one, and I feel privileged and fortunate for having seen it.

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

The Sad Effect of a War in the Children

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 April 2004

In Sarajevo, the British journalist Michael Henderson (Stephen Dillane) is correspondent of war, who decides to cover the orphans' situation due to the Bosnian War. Through successive matters, he tries to show and sensitize the public opinion about this ignored war. Meanwhile, he gets emotionally involved with Emira (Emira Nusevic), a young Bosnian girl. He decides to take the chance and brings her to the breast of his family in London. Some time later, the girl's mother is found alive and requests the care of her daughter. Michael returns to Sarajevo to convince her to let him adopt Emira.

The first time I watched this impressing movie was in 1999 and indeed it was the first film about the Bosnian war that I have seen. The director Michael Winterbottom makes a magnificent work, alternating reality and fiction through images. Based on a true event, he uses real war footages intercalating with his film to show the atrocities of this war, having the focus on the children. Stephen Diallane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Emira Nusevic and the rest of the cast have brilliant performances. There is a very special and cynical scene that I like a lot, when the American journalist Flynn apologizes to a local in the name of the American people for the non-intervention of USA in this dirty war. This is maybe the best line of the great actor Woody Harrelson in this excellent movie. This week I have watched five films about this war and all of them are really excellent and highly recommended. If the reader likes this theme and wants to see different approaches, do not miss 'Harrison's Flowers', 'Vulkovar', 'Pretty Village, Pretty Flame' and 'Shot Through the Heart'. I intend to see again the magnificent 'Savior' and 'No Man's Land' along this week also about this horrible war. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): 'Bem Vindo a Sarajevo' ('Welcome to Sarajevo')

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

I'm surprised this movie didn't get more recognition

Author: MovieAlien from az
7 February 1999

I rented this film, having mistaken it for another, but I saw it and turned out to be quite satisfied with my foul up. Everyday since 1992 I always heard a brief narrative on the news about the troubles in Bosnia and was never quite clear what was going on until I saw this film. What made it interesting was the focus on the group of reporters, who were much more vivid and sympathetic when they first appeared. Very good performances, the soundtrack was good, but I must warn you about the cover: Marisa Tomei seems like the main star according to the box; she almost has a cameo.

Good movie. I recommend it.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Unmissable

9/10
Author: pippa_bennett (pippa.bennett@gmail.com) from Monmouth, UK
29 May 2005

Like many other users here i have never understood why such a fantastic and quite groundbreaking film has never received a more fitting place in filmic history. i think it's sensitive and fitting and yet packs enough punch to perhaps make people who didn't before, care a bit more or take a bit more notice of what happened in the Balkans. the actors are memorable and the script powerful. i have also loved the passion that has gone into this film, the filmmakers obviously had a real love for this part of the world which is something we were never shown on the news, that the Balkans are beautiful and vibrant countries and that the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia let us ignore that and de-cultured the people in some way. watch it if you haven't already!

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22 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

sad, realistic, impressive

8/10
Author: Raissa Skvortsova (rskvortsova@yahoo.com) from Russian Federation
8 April 2005

I saw the movie about 2-3 years ago and I was very impressed and touched. I couldn't help crying all the time. Because it was so realistic... As a Russian I faced myself the pain of the war in Chechnya, for example... I mean the feeling is close to me and I can quite understand it. All the pain which seems so indescribable is "summarized" in the movie. However, what I didn't like was a certain lack of objectiveness. I mean the political moment. In this movie the Serbs are presented as the bad guys, and the Muslims - as the victims. But the true is the opposite. Or at least, both sides were victims of this horrible conflict.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

nice, but too confused and missing the point

Author: kicco from Sarajevo, BiH
9 September 2003

At the beginning I should mention that I live in Sarajevo, and I was a civilian in a besieged city, so that explains my perspective from which I was watching this movie, and experience I carry from it.

Through the whole movie, one thing kept torturing me: What is this movie about??? Is it about Michael Henderson and his moral issues, is it about all journalists and their moral issues, is it about Flynn and his understanding of war, is it about worlds' understanding of that war, is it about Sarajevo, about Emira, about orphans? This movie needs focusing on one goal, because this way I'm left with 100 stories that don't actually fit together and I don't know what I was watching the past 1,5 hours. Pictures of war make their message very clear, but then its messed up with the story that tries to cover too many things at the same time. So is it fiction? Well, no. Is it a documentary? Well, no, not that either...

Most places shown in the move are totally wrong. Characters keep jumping from one end of the city to another in matters of seconds, some events that really happened are shown in wrong places, many times characters enter streets that in real life were sniper alleys etc. (meaning no way one could get near and stay alive), military checkpoints are mostly in the wrong places and so on, but one can forgive details like that.

Welcome to Sarajevo is trying to show you how it was, living in Sarajevo under siege, but its constantly missing the point and showing the wrong things. If you want to know how it looked like, watch a documentary.

To date the only realistic movie about Bosnian war is No Man's Land, and that would be my highest recommendation. Other than that, Lepa sela lepo gore is worth watching.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Heartbreaking story

9/10
Author: Sean Gallagher (seankgallagher@yahoo.com) from Brooklyn, NY
2 March 1999

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.

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Typical American product!

3/10
Author: Andrej Vospernik from Slovenia
9 April 2000

The film has no connection with the real life in Bosnia in those days. Should be more realistic and shows the viewer real traumas that were happening to common people during the war. Please see some films of Yugoslav authors (Emir Kusturica, Ljubisa Samardzic,...e.g. Bure baruta( A barrel of powder), Tito i ja (Tito and me), Lepa sela lepo gore (Beautiful Villages burn Beautiful), etc... Just this is the real way to know about so called Bosnian problem. Hollywood is definitive not th right address to make films about the Balcan peninsula. Maybe Vietnam, WW II,... but not of the Slavs living in former Yugoslavia.

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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Cutting the Crap

8/10
Author: Chris Bright from London
14 February 2005

I think it's first important to understand what this film is not, and hence why so many of the critical comments here are wide of the mark. It's not the Hollywood melodrama the trailer almost inevitably suggests. It's certainly not an in-depth analysis of the causes of the Bosnian war. Probably what it's most about is the role of journalists, and the media generally, in a war zone.

As an Englishman making a film about a foreign conflict I think Winterbottom's decision to focus on the (true) story of a British TV journalist was sensible - in the end Winterbottom's view can only ever be that of "Henderson" and in this way the film's integrity is maintained.

It's easy to say that only someone with local knowledge can make a worthwhile film about this or any conflict, however I think mistaken. Obviously Serb apologists like the several posting here will prefer a film which makes their side look less bad; other parties to the conflict would presumably disagree (and it is notable that the Serbian residents of Sarajevo were not "ethnically cleansed" by the government there). Nicholson, on whose book the film was based, was in Sarajevo, undergoing the siege with the inhabitants. At the end of the day if a sniper is shooting children in front of you, you do not ask whether there may be some historical justification for their actions.

Once these false expectations are dispensed with the film is surely excellent. As in his other work Winterbottom does not go in for Hollywood hand-holding or emotional manipulation; rather he aims at an Altmanesque ensemble piece with strong elements of black comedy and an open, improvisatory feel. Big stars are given only cameo roles and seem to be happy with that; certainly all the performances in the film are understated and unshowy, with the actors content to inhabit the characters and relate to each other instead of to the audience. As with Altman, we are expected to pay attention, to pick up clues and to think (and feel) for ourselves.

Where the film may fall down is on the occasions when it does stray into outright comment. Winterbottom's politics, at least judging by this film, seem to be straightforwardly liberal - terrible things happened, our governments should have done more. Unfortunately as we have seen elsewhere, too often these genuine humanitarian impulses are cynically and selectively used by politicians to serve their own agendas. At the end of the day, Bosnia was of little economic value to the West, so intervention was resisted for as long as possible.

Overall this film avoids a lot of easy traps and is a fine addition to Mr Winterbottom's growing body of challenging and inventive work.

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