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25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

English subtitles inaccurate

Author: puljekshank from Sarajevo
3 September 2007

I found this series very helpful for understanding the events that led up to the wars in the 1990s. At times the analysis isn't very critical in the sense that events are shown as they happened without reflection about why they happened. It's strong suit is interviewing the principals and their comments and perceptions. One big weakness is the quality of the subtitles which were at times incomplete and even wrong. One example that comes to mind is in the first episode when they are discussing what kind of leader Stambolic is, and the subtitles say what kind of dictator. I'm shocked that the BBC paid so little attention to the subtitles which reflect a persistent bias.

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

A fantastic documentary

Author: runner-47 from -
28 January 2008

If you are interested in the Balkan wars, then this documentary is a must. I still cannot believe that they actually managed to talk to the people who were the lead characters of these events. It is absolutely unique to hear every one of them speak about it, share their story and be filmed while doing it. Not many a documentary has managed this kind of scope and well spent effort.

Clearly, there will be truths hidden that the interviewees did not want to speak about, but one should not expect miracles. Even so, this is a genuinely fascinating documentary that anyone, who is interested in this region's history, should see.

A word of caution though, there appear to be a number of people on this board, disagreeing, denying and generally dissatisfied about any film that shows the conflict as it really was and, hence, shows Serbs in a less than a positive light.

Pay no attention, even to this day, there are people in Austria and Germany who deny the atrocities of WWII; most of these people can hardly be helped by a documentary.

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24 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Most insightful documentary I have ever saw

Author: Karlo Pirc (Oldboy69) from Slovenia
28 September 2007

This documentary is great. It gave me insight into things I never knew, even though I live in the region (Slovenia). I have seen the war and the first helicopter was shot down in front of my very eyes. I have participated in the war by working on the local radio station, informing the public on the events in real time around the clock, my grandfather and father were in the Yugoslav army, and my grandparents are Serbs from Belgrade. So I guess I can say I have some insight in the matter.

It is absolutely untrue and unfair to say that this documentary was "written by the winners". Calling the genocide at Srebrenica an error on the UN or NATO part is outright ridiculous. This sentiment of cutting some slack to Serbians (as well as Croatians) on account of UN and NATO not reacting is just the reflection of the anti-west mentality (all capitalists are bad, so they have to be responsible) ever present in these parts.

It is hard to say what constitutes a legitimate threat to the security of the region (trigger for NATO action). Should NATO attack England on account of having issues in Ireland or Turkey for its treatment of the Kurds? Or should UN secure the borders of Catalonia, Padania or Basque country? It's not something you just get into without a really serious reason. But growing new fascistic regime in the region is a legitimate threat and something Europeans remember bitterly. This is why Europeans were reluctant to act. Last thing we need is another wave of Red Brigades in Europe.

All original materials for the documentary (full transcripts and so on) are publicly available (for research purposes) at King's College London (, so any implication that this was some western plot to rewrite history in ridiculous.

So, if you are interested in the matter, this documentary is as good as it gets. No Michael Moorish one-sided human interest stories with sad endings. I's about background and political games of the people that actually made it happen, and others that made it stop.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

lost in translation

Author: nebmac from North America
7 September 2016

Whoever translated the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian portions of this program into English ought to be ashamed of themselves. There are so many instances where the meaning of the speakers' words is obscured or distorted. Here are just a few examples:


Speaker: "They simply could not believe their eyes, how it could all have been filmed in the offices in which they were conferring…not conferring, in which they were talking about the heinous crimes that they want to commit."

Subtitles: "They could not believe their eyes! They had been filmed planning murder and treason."


Speaker: "They have an ethnically pure republic, they have no territorial disputes."

Subtitles: "It was an ethnically pure republic - no Serbs."


Speaker: "I asked him if they are aware that they chose war."

Subtitles: "I said: 'This means war'."


Speaker: "Until then, I never in my life saw a man who was as scared as him. I think that in a period of 30 minutes, he went to the toilet 10 times. Most likely he got, uh, diarrhea or something similar."

Subtitles: "I have never seen a man so scared. He went to the toilet ten times. Perhaps it was something he had for lunch."


Such shoddy translation might be acceptable for a Hollywood action film, but it completely ruined what could have been an excellent war documentary.

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12 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A better description couldn't have been made.

Author: Alex Jones ( from London, U.K.
27 June 2003

This documentary series (of five episodes) is a painstakingly compiled and researched account of the extended mass-bloodshed which marked the end of the old Federal Yugoslavia and spanned almost the entire first half of the 1990's. It includes a huge wealth of news footage and interviews with involved parties both "Yugoslav" and otherwise. The only real "improvement" which could be made to this amazing achievement would be the inclusion of later developments in the Balkans since the program was made. This was indeed done in the late 1990's for a repeat showing on BBC television, but the addition of some even more recent events would help to complete this admirably detailed and fulsome piece of work. Perhaps another whole episode might be warranted? The very succinct title of this documentary was made all the more appropriate by the eventual abandonment of the term "Yugoslavia" by the now-named Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro - a much belated and formal admission of that which occurred years before.

This program is required viewing for anyone who wishes to know about this horrible conflict, it's causes and it's many results.

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14 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Great Documentary about Cause and Effect of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s

Author: zensixties from United States
4 January 2004

This is a great 5 part documentary narrated by Christiane Amanpour about the Origins and Results of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. It starts out following Milosevic and his break with Communist Party policy by supporting Serb nationalists in Kosovo. Slovenia was the 1st republic to oppose him and broke off with a short relatively minor war in 1991. Then came Croatia with a rising nationalist mentality of its own led by Franjo Tudjman. This war was much fiercer as the town of Vukovar was annihilated. Then a secret deal was reached between Tudjman and Milosevic to divide Bosnia between themselves launching the genocidal war there in 1992.

All the leaders are interviewed including psychiatrist-war criminal Karadzic (no contradiction there--we know Nazi concentration camps were run by psychiatrists, and we know the destructive effects of the psychiatric industry on humankind). Also Mladic, the general handpicked by Milosevic to take over the genocide operation in Bosnia. Here we get all the main incidents, including the Belgrade debates and power struggles within the party, the Serb sniper at Sarajevo's Holiday Inn, and finally an in-depth look at what happened at Srebrenica. The UN went in there and made it a "safe zone" only to abandon it to Mladic and his mass killers. And as we speak Mladic and Karadzic are safe and comfy in Republika Srbska. --Update: the two are now in the Hague awaiting sentencing for genocide.

Also importantly Bush the Elder is shown with James Baker after his own wars in Iraq and Panama, saying they have no interest in Bosnia, since they didn't care about saving lives; only taking them. And then Clinton came and didn't do much either until the war was winding down in 1995.

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26 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Hand washing of big nations

Author: vladimir-dojcilovic ( from Yugoslavia
27 March 2006

Dear gentlemen,

I don't won't to waste my life by talking about politics, so my comment will be quite short and precise. The thing is that this movie is made by one side in the conflict. Which one? Of course, UK and USA. Therefor it cannot be objective in any way. In every country of Former Yugoslavia there is a opinion that there is at least 50 % of guilt for wars in Yugoslavia that could be blamed on foreign countries and their secret services, Germany and USA in particular. Also, Death and sufferings of civilians were used so many times in propaganda purposes by USA gov. The most flagrant use of media in those purposes is demonstrated in the movie that deals with making up the war in Albania ( I think that Al Pacino has a role of American president, but I'm not sure). Anyways, I am trying to be objective and pretty liberal, so, I am not putting myself in either side of the conflicts, although I come from Serbia. Nice greets to everyone!

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21 out of 50 people found the following review useful:


Author: dajetak from Germany
22 November 2006

As I am very interested in the wars in the former Yugoslavia I watched this quite famous series and expected an unbiased series which would deliver a lot of facts. However in this regard the series is very disappointing as it does not deliver facts but instead speculations and assumptions are shown as undeniable facts.

The series consists mainly of interviews with the main leaders of the warring factions and the UN representatives. This is the best part about this series as it shows us the different opinions on the events that happened. In between this interviews a narrator tells the viewer what happened and here this series fails on many occasions as it quite often presents assumptions as facts or tells us about the intentions behind certain events but completely lacks evidence for this. The most obvious assumption is the alleged deal between Milosevic and Tudjman about the division of Bosnia. The series tells us that this deal was the main reason for the war in Bosnia. What it does not tell us is that there is no evidence for such a deal. Mesic and Karadzic are interviewed about this deal however they both were not present during the Milosevic/Tudjman meeting. Moreover the director of this series, probably to support his thesis shows us the meeting right before the war in Bosnia, however the meeting took place before the war in Croatia. Also Tudjman's comment about Bosnia was intensified by the not very exact translation. When he said that "another" option was the division of Bosnia, it was translated by the narrator as "the only option" was the division. I realized the same thing several times while watching this series, that certain statements were intensified by a slightly inaccurate translation (I watched the German version, maybe the others are more accurate).

On other occasions the series is very one sided and superficial, for instance when it tells that the Serbs were afraid of Croatia because the Croat Coat of arms (the red and white checkerboard) was used during WWII. The series does not loose a single word on the fact that the checkerboard was used for hundreds of years, even in Yugoslavia, which renders the narrator's thesis that the checkerboard was the equivalent to the swastika completely wrong (Actually the U was the equivalent to the swastika).

In the end this series is interesting because of the interviews and some interesting footage, which is the reason why i gave it 3 out of 10. I do not agree with the previous reviewer that the documentary is flawed because of this. There is no ultimate truth about Yugoslavia, so by interviewing people from each side you get as close as possible. Another way would be to deliver facts like documents or audio/video footage to support the comments by the narrator on certain events and here this series fails almost completely.

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14 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Too Political !

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
7 October 2005

Forgive my summary for being contradictory because it sums up what's wrong with this documentary series on the destruction of the Socialist Federation Of Yugoslavia . By trying to be bitingly ironic DEATH ends up contradicting itself

The format is to be blame . We see tedious talking head interviews from everybody like Slobodan Milosovic the leader of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman the leader of Croatia to leaders of the various paramilitary leaders organisations to UN soldiers to people who were kicked out their villages during the war . The irony comes in the form of Tudjman or Milisovic saying he had nothing to do with such and such an event then the interviewing cutting to a paramilitary leader saying " So the president said to me I want [ Rival ethnic group ] kicked out of the region and I will supply you with the men and guns to do it " and the interview cutting back to Milosovic or Tudjman bleating " So you see it was nothing to do with me . I was not responsible " . By trying to be ironic , if not out and out cynical , what are we audience to learn by all this ? Since the paramilitaries are very nasty people in the first place why should we entirely believe them ?

The format also makes tedious viewing . I tuned in to find out about the very human cost of war , of why socialist brothers turn against each other in an orgy of nationalism and what it was like for the combatants , mercenaries , UN personnel and innocent civilians on the front line but DEATH doesn't really concern itself with people , only politics with large chunks of running time dedicated to footage of political meetings and talking head interviews of people who attended them which leads to the detriment of other issues . The Muslim - Croat conflict of 1993 which killed thousands is relegated to a few seconds of the bridge over Mostar being shelled . I should also point out that interviewing the architects of the war in the former Yugoslavia means that we're hearing a subjective point of view , not an impartial objective one

So I'm afraid I've got to disagree with the other two reviewers ( one of whom may have got this confused with another documentary - The narrator is an English male not Christiane Amanpour ) in saying that despite - Or is it because ? - the leaders of the former Yugoslavia and international diplomats are interviewed this is a very flawed documentary series

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