In the book, The Bosnian List, Kenan Trebincevic illuminates the experience of the people during the chaos of the war that faced Yugoslavia. The lives of the citizens of Sarajevo right from the young children to the fathers, mothers and the elderly, they face the constant jitters and dangers that came with the war. The book by Kenan as well as the film titled Welcome to Sarajevo released in 1997 is classic illumination into the horrors that came with the war. The people of Sarajevo lived a life of peril and fear as the war waged on and beyond.
Kenan does a fantastic job at highlighting the plight and also the events that took place during the war further enhanced by the film directed by Michael Winterbottom. The film Welcome to Sarajevo [played a pivotal role in enabling me to understand further the role that the journalists played at sharing the story of the people in Sarajevo with the world. It is the sharing of the story that was critical at beating the lack of concern and apathy that the world had shown to the country that was suffering in the hands of war. Michael Henderson, an ITN reporter, having traveled to Bosnia where he meets an American journalist Jimmy Flynn that just like he was in search of a story. To their surprise, they can witness the suffering of the people of Sarajevo that did not receive the attention it deserved. It took the creative reporting by Henderson who made a report on an orphanage located in the war-hit areas with over two hundred children living in desperate conditions to capture the attention of the UK news. The apparent ignorance of the UK and the rest of the world to the plight of the Bosnians were more evident watching conditions that the children and other citizens lived in during the war yet the world remained silent about the issue.
The film further evokes empathy in its elaboration of the way Henderson and other Aid workers worked tirelessly to help the children. The strong bond and attachment that they formed to the extent that Henderson convinces Nina an American Aid worker to include a Bosnian girl into a bus set for Italy in a UN attempt to evacuate the children in the orphanage. The passion and attachment between the characters and the orphans are what evokes the strong empathy in the viewer. Nina goes out of her way to engage in an illegal act of taking the orphaned child although it was illegal. They work with Henderson to cover up the unlawful act just to keep a promise that he had made to her to save her from the suffering.
One aspect that was compelling in the movies is the way reporters go through so much trouble to share a story only to have the stories not materialize to anything. In the movie, there is a scene where a particularly graphic coverage on the massacre is removed from the most viewed time for an item on separation of the Duke and Duchess of York. Henderson’s producer reminds him that coverage is not about the story but the ratings which were very saddening considering the Bosnian people needed the same people to go out and join the campaign to save them from the graphic nature of the war. It indicates the entertainment nature of news and information broadcasted instead of real and authentic pieces.
The volatile nature of the war was also an aspect that was brought out more clearly in the film than the book did. According to the movie, there was a danger that hung on the horizon at all times. There are instances where one is talking about a partner and the other moment the partner is shot dead out of the blues. To further demonstrate the grievous situation that faced the Sarajevo’s, when one of the native drivers working with a British crew is jokingly given eggs by Goran Visnjic to nurse a hangover, he keeps the eggs gratefully for his fellow countrymen. It was an illustration of the need for the people to unite the people and the generous nature of the population in the midst of adversity was very impressive.
The book and the film gave a classic documentation of the life of the people of Sarajevo. It was an exemplary account of how the people of Sarajevo lived a life of peril and fear as the war waged on and beyond.
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