|Sarajevo. Picture courtesy of the South East European Film Festival.|
Written by Jose Alberto Hermosillo
“Sarajevo” is an epic, smart, intense and magnificent political thriller, with some romance and drama. Historically accurate, it depicts the turn of events that detonated World War I, better known as the Great War.
The timing couldn’t be any better for this Austrian production when Europe commemorates the centennial of military conflict that involved many nations, left thousands of casualties, and changed Europe’s map forever. Sarajevo, ground zero.
The story focuses on Dr. Leo Pfeffer (perfectly played by actor Florian Teichtmeister), a magistrate who investigates the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Leo has little time to process the evidence, witnesses, maps, military corruption, police inefficiency, and the elite. People in power only want war. The assassins where immature and idealistic teenagers, who did not want to confess who told them to do it.
Leo’s integrity and the love he feels for Marija keep him going against the odds. Leo goes down and dirty to discover the conspiracy and greed of the ones who are on top of him.
“Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel” is another of film set in the WWI, but this one focuses more on the cruelty of the war and humanistic side of it. “Sarajevo” is more about the investigation and the plotting before the great conflict.
The film is impeccable, accurate, articulate, linear. It is well directed by Andreas Prochaska (“The Dark Valley”). It is intended to hit the European T.V. market, but theatrical release in America is in the works.
Some may say it is heavy on stereotyping the Serbs or Leo being Jewish, but it is another approach to explain how anarchist and racial intolerance created chaos on the Balkan Peninsula a century ago.
“Sarajevo” is very vivid, with great characters, good production level, wonderful sets, elegant costumes, perfect make up, and splendid cinematography.
And above all, the compelling script by writer Martin Ambrosch, who researched into the historic documents, places, and facts made characters and situations believable.
“Sarajevo” is one of the first great films of 2014 no one should miss.