At the L.A. premiere for her debut as a writer-director, the Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie made it clear that that the film is hard to watch — and intentionally so — warning the audience that for two hours they would be asking themselves when it would end.
While that may seem like a risky gambit for a commercial release, Jolie insists there was no other way to present it.
“I personally feel like if you’re watching a film about war, you should get a sense of what it’s really like, so we tried to make it authentic,” she says.
The war in question — represented on screen with the unlikely love affair between a Serbian officer (Goran Kostic) and a Bosnian refugee (Zana Marjanovic) — was particularly atrocity-filled, and Jolie pulled few punches in depicting it.
“You just can’t soften this kind of war,” she says.
“And the reality is the four-and-a-half-hour cut was a lot worse. Some of the hardest things were actually cut out because some people just really could not handle it.”
What’s possibly most jarring about the film, though, are the details woven in to remind audiences that this all happened in the last 20 years right in Western Europe’s backyard.
But Jolie isn’t looking to send audiences on a guilt trip so much as raise awareness.
“I didn’t intentionally make people feel guilty, but I have had that response from a lot of people — that they feel guilty that they didn’t do enough,” she says.
“I feel guilty. I didn’t know enough.
“So I think we all should feel that way about this particular war, and we should wonder what it is that we’re going to look back on, in 15 years, and feel that we also didn’t do, that’s happening today,” she adds.