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(E) Washington Post - NEEDS YOUR LETTER
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/23/2002 | Media Watch | Unrated
(E) Washington Post - NEEDS YOUR LETTER

 

Dear All,

There is a review by DessonHowe in the The Washington Post that created a new country of Serbo-Croatia.There is also a review by Michael O'Sullivan in the same newspapers that says for the same geographical term"Croatia". Attention for the first one came from Tony Marganand the second one from Judy- St. Louis.In an essence to be efficient in our respond to such missinformation, pleaseALWAYS send me html address of the actual site where the article exist.Therefore, we will not have confusion about the article. Second, please send thecontact address.email so that everybody can respond immediatelly and that I canpost it in an hour and distribute it. Then we have some reaction. So, pleasewrite a letter to :
letters@washpost.com

give themthe proper address:

http://eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/1064375/?&flavor_id=12&context=movie

and yourcomment about invention of new countries. Vukovar was NEVER Serbian. And willNEVER be. So, where is the confusion there. Either Mr.DessonHowe should study georgraphy or ethics, or both. Please find the contactfor Elie Chouraqui, the director of the film. We should shower him with love.

NenadBach
CROWN

When her husband, a photojournalist, is listed as missing in Serbo-Croatia, Sarah Lloyd (Andie MacDowell) ignites with purpose. Devoted to Harrison (David Strathairn) and their family, she decides to find him, with only her love and emotional resources to help her.

A glimpse of Harrison on a news video -- or someone who looks like him -- has been enough to convince her he's still alive.

"I'm going to bring him back, Cesar," she tells her son -- this after everyone has declared Harrison dead. We've seen enough movies to know that main characters don't say stuff they don't mean. Leaving her two children with relatives, Sarah flies straight into the Serbo-Croatian war of the early 1990s.

It's hell, of course. A Croatian whom she gives a lift in her rented car is executed in front of her. Shells explode everywhere. Snipers are plentiful. Soldiers rape and shoot before they ask questions.

But Sarah's determined to press on, enlisting help from two of Harrison's fellow photographers, Kyle (an overly angry Adrien Brody) and Stevenson (an assured, amusing Brendan Geeson).

Almost ashamed of their own fears, the two men drive her directly into the vortex known as Vukovar, where Sarah believes she saw him in that video. Along the way, she also meets his closest friend, Yeager (Elias Koteas), an award-winning photographer who's also looking for Harrison.

-- Desson Howe, Weekend

*****************************************************************************

HARRISON'S FLOWERS (R, 122 minutes) -- When her husband (DavidStrathairn), a photojournalist, is listed as missing in Croatia, Sarah Lloyd (AndieMacDowell) decides to find him, with only her love and emotional resources to help her. She enters hell, enlisting help from two of Harrison's fellow photographers, Kyle(Adrien Brody) and Stevenson (Brendan Geeson). The film follows the familiar pattern of many a missing-person movie. But it's a solid 'B,' a workmanlike drama, based on the experiences of former photojournalist (andcoscriptwriter) Isabel Ellsen. MacDowell enjoys her best movie performance. And war is made evocatively horrifying, thanks to production designer Giantito Burchiellaro and digital effects by StephaneBidault. Contains war atrocities, obscenity and sexual scenes. Area theaters

-- Michael O'Sullivan


The French Filmmaker, Bringing War Into Focus

 

"Harrison's Flowers" director Elie Chouraqui says of war photographers, "They are all witnesses. They are our eyes." 

(Jonathan Alcorn - For The Washington Post)


By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 14, 2002; Page C01
LOS ANGELES -- The entertainment industry has become remarkably adept, disturbingly precise, in the art of simulating war and its excess, right down to the way a pile of dead bodies, say, might look after a few days, covered in lime.This is a good thing and a bad thing, isn't it? In these times, we should look, and look hard, at what is happening around us, to us, by our hand. But the notion of thinking about these things at a cineplex takes some getting used to."The sound a tank makes, you know, its metal tracks, chewing on a road, and that squealing motor noise, very loud. That is the effect we wanted to produce, to make it real." This is the French director Elie Chouraqui talking about the research, the eye for detail, the pure craftsmanship necessary to make viewers feel like they are there, alongside his protagonist as she encounters the distilled violence that first spilled across Croatia in 1991, in his new film "Harrison's Flowers," which opens tomorrow. The movie is about -- what? Love, hate, war. About witnessing. About the awful and alluring profession of war photography, which requires a human being to stand 10 feet away from a street execution and, as the machete swings, press a Nikon to his face and punch the shutter.In "Harrison's Flowers," a fictional award-winning Newsweek photojournalist leaves his wife and two kids behind in Pottery Barn, N.J., for a quick assignment shooting a filthy little fight between ancient ethnic rivals in the Balkans. Nobody back home knows about the conflict, and nobody really cares. Remember when? The photographer, however, is soon lost and presumed dead in a town with the alien-sounding name of Vukovar; his wife does not believe it and goes to Croatia to find him, and that's when the film becomes a Pilgrim's Progress into Hell.In three minutes of film, the wife, Sarah (played by a frazzled but still lovely Andie MacDowell), drives her rental car from the Europe where we take vacations into a slaughterhouse where they make nightmares. There is a thunder crack, a dusty white concussion. Then the tank. Her car is crushed. A passenger she had picked up begs for his life before he is summarily shot -- just to shut him up -- by a Serb militiaman. Sarah is thrown onto the hood of the car, her legs spread, and is about to be raped, when just as suddenly, her assailants vanish.Here and gone, like an earthquake."I didn't want the audience to be watching the war," Chouraqui says. "I wanted the audience to be in a war. To understand, to have the feeling of war even if you are in a seat watching a screen."Chouraqui (pronounced shoe-rocky) is the film's co-writer, producer and director, and he is all Gallic intensity, explaining why he made the movie as he sits in a hotel suite in Los Angeles having a cigarette, sipping black coffee, eating strawberries, pondering man's inhumanity to man.He recalls those early months of the decade-long Balkan conflict, when the world first began to realize that there was a ground war being fought again in Europe."I am living in Paris," Chouraqui says. "And I am visiting the Venice Film Festival. I have some movie we produced and we see planes flying and crossing the sea, the Adriatic, and people were talking about it and I said, 'I think they are going to Yugoslavia.' "Then the news began to seep out. "I heard words like ethnic cleansing, and then you had camps, concentration camps, and it was 50 years ago, we had cleansing and camps and I decided I have to make a movie, that is my duty," Chouraqui says.He wrote the screenplay with Isabel Ellsen, a French photojournalist. Once, Chouraqui was looking at Ellsen's cameras and noticed a gash on a lens, a memento from Africa, from a machete.This is Chouraqui's first big American release. In his previous work, the director and his production company, 7 Films Cinema, were known for smaller films, like "Les Marmottes" (The Groundhogs) and "Les Menteurs" (The Liars), which were minor hits in France."It was not easy," he says, putting everything together. "To find the money, to write the script, to find the actors, to fight with the agents. It took years."The advertising campaign for "Harrison's Flowers" emphasizes the love story between Sarah and her husband, Harrison (David Strathairn). But MacDowell's character is essentially a surrogate for the audience, an American innocent who must make a perilous journey from the border across Croatia to Vukovar, which was under siege for 87 days.Chouraqui says his actors look haggard and frightened because they were exhausted (they made the film in nine weeks in and around Prague) and even a little bit scared during the filming of some scenes.Chouraqui used Serb and Croat actors to play the combatants, and he said he was awed to watch as they transformed themselves into the monsters seen onscreen. "They could explore this violence they had inside them," the director says.What most fascinated Chouraqui was the role of the photojournalist, which is not so different than his own, in the sense that every piece of film may contain, simultaneously, a truth and a lie."I ask them, first, why are you doing this? It's so strange. You go in front of danger, and you know that you are risking your life. Why are you doing this?" Chouraqui says. "And they all have different answers. My answer is that they did their duty. They are all witnesses. They are our eyes."The film will certainly receive mixed reviews from photographers and journalists who have covered the Balkans and are now busy in Afghanistan.In the movie, MacDowell is accompanied on her journey by a trio of photographers, the pill-popping angry young man Kyle (Adrien Brody), the Irish bear Stevenson (Brendan Gleeson) and Harrison's pal and competitor Yeager (Elias Koteas). Occasionally the actor-photographers are required to utter lines that the best among the world's war photographers (who, by the way, include more than a few women) would never say, such as "This is no place for the living" and "They know our photos will tell the story of this war."Great photographers may actually think thoughts like these, but God forbid they say them out loud at the bar. The film also ignores another fact of modern foreign reportage. Journalists today travel in strange and dangerous countries with native "fixers" who are often given the unpleasant task of negotiating with drunk soldiers at checkpoints. But in "Harrison's Flowers," the photogs go it alone, waving white flags at Serb gunmen, holding up their cameras as shields and squeaking "Press!" when they should be saying "Novinar."Regardless, the film could not be more timely. Slobodan Milosevic is in the dock at the Hague and troops are in the Afghan mountains, followed by more war photographers and their colleagues."I think of Danny Pearl," Chouraqui says of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter. "Everybody talks to me about him. He was with his wife and she is pregnant. I'm thinking about him. What pushed him? What brought you there? Why didn't you stay at home?" The director shakes his head, genuinely saddened. "Too much courage for such small information." But then again, "all the information becomes a picture and the picture tells us what is really going on in the world." That is the idea anyway.But one thing that is interesting about Chouraqui's film is that it does not actually try to make comprehensible the issues behind the war in the Balkans. It is, in that way, like a picture of a pile of dead bodies. There they are. It is awful. But what does it mean?

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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