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Cpl. 'Houdini' Moraczewski:
Na droge niech pan leje!... Bo ostatnio jakis Francuz nalal na detonator przeciwpiechotnej i urwalo mu jaja...
[Hey, pee on the road!... Because some French guy peed on an IED last time and it blew his balls off... ]
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This movie has a lot going for it. From a technical aspect the cinematography is top-notch, the actors are among Poland's best, (including the great Boguslaw Linda in the lead role) and the plot is fast paced and entertaining. The themes of this movie lend themselves to a lot of thinking about the role of UN Peacekeeping Forces.
During the hight of the Bosnian War, Poland occupied fourth place in the rankings of contributers of military contingents in Yugoslavia even though they had not yet been admitted as a member of NATO. Peacekeeping troops were very limited on what they were allowed to do even when they found themselves or civilians in dangerously grave situations. At the time this movie was made they were often unarmed. It is important to point out that at the time of this film's release, the war in Yugoslavia was reaching a point of conflict not seen in Europe since the Second World War, and human rights violations including "ethnic cleansing" were reaching a level on par with genocide.
This movie revolves around a Major in the Polish Army who makes the decision to deliberately disobey UN policy in order to attempt the rescue of fellow Polish soldiers. This decision puts his men in harms way, and some of them are killed because of his decision. However, his decision to violate UN policy allows him to save the live's of an entire village of people, and isn't that one reason why Peacekeeping troops should be employed? In the end the bad guys lose. Winning wasn't easy, nor was it achieved without sacrifice. Success primarily came about because someone decided to get tough. To me, the movie gave a clear message that the UN needed to take more of a "get tough" policy regarding the Bosnian Crisis, especially in the matter of how much force can be used to protect civilians.
It is interesting to note several events that happened within a year of this films release. One, Poland was admitted as a member of NATO. Two, the UN changed their policies and rules of engagement governing the use of force allowing peacekeepers "to use all necessary means" to protect civilians in their immediate vicinity and prevent violence against UN staff and personnel. Third, the US and NATO intervened with a more forceful approach that caused Yugoslavia to cease it's conflict.
This is one of the few movies I have seen that dealt with current (current when the film was made) military issues not made in the USA. I found it fascinating to see a film that expressed viewpoints regarding peacekeeping from another country.Granted, it may not compare to some of Hollywood's military blockbusters, but this is a well-made thought-provoking movie. I wish I had discovered it years ago. I highly recommend it.
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