A 3-dimensional Eulerian array by Nicoletti G., Ritelli D., Silimbani M.

By Nicoletti G., Ritelli D., Silimbani M.

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While Nicholson’s memoir gives considerable space over to a (self-justificatory) discussion of the implications of smuggling Natasha into Britain illegally, and the challenges of living with and adopting her, the film has little interest in the potential ambiguities of Henderson’s action. While we might understand Henderson’s action as altruistic, it may also be read as the expiation of his guilt at being an impotent voyeur whose reports of atrocities have little obvious function (beyond supplying commercial news channels with spectacular content).

The features of the ‘presentational aesthetic’ summarised by Warren Buckland describe well the characteristic formal conventions of Winterbottom’s films as well as the television dramas: due to the small size of its screen and its lack of resolution, television has little use for complex, deep focus shots. Instead it is dominated by close-ups (showing single objects in isolation), rapid cutting (since the close-up requires less time for its content to be exhausted), a highly mobile camera (for the same reason as rapid cutting), and a shallow lateral space, partly created by the use of telephoto lenses.

The decision to shoot much of the film on location gives the non-documentary material a greater sense of authenticity. Most of the film was shot in Sarajevo, only a few months after the war ended in December 1995 (the director visited the city in January 1996 and the film’s premiere in Cannes was in May 1997), and so the ruined buildings and shrapnel-damaged streets and roads, and makeshift grave markers are a very visible backdrop to the action. In its search for scenographic realism, the film belongs, as Mercedes Maroto Camino observes, ‘to a particular tradition of filming the aftermath of war just after its cessation, which was inaugurated by Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City in 1945’ (Camino 2005: 119).

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