You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comanche Territory

The incredibly dangerous and difficult roles played by news journalists in a modern war zone are brought vividly to the screen in Gerardo Herrero's "Comanche Territory," a film that, with immediacy and apparent accuracy, depicts life in Sarajevo at the height of the recent Bosnian conflict. The suspenseful adventures of a group of TV journalists on the front line should open strongly in Euro territories, though the film's conventional characterizations and plotting will probably hinder release in some territories. With its concentration on a small group of professional people of both sexes thrown together in a volatile situation, the film inevitably recalls the work of Howard Hawks. Indeed, pic's three principal characters are all quite Hawksian: Laura (Cecilia Dopazo), a TV newsreader sent from Madrid to Sarajevo by her boss for some on-the-spot reporting; Mikel (Imanol Arias), the jaded professional who's at first antagonistic toward the newcomer and then has an affair with her; and Jose (Carmelo Gomez), who lives for the moment and whose greatest ambition is to be able to film the destruction of the last bridge spanning the river in Sarajevo.

With:
Mikel Uriarte ..... Imanol Arias Jose ..... Carmelo Gomez Laura Riera ..... Cecilia Dopazo Jadranka ..... Mirta Zecevic Olivier ..... Bruno Todeschini Manuel ..... Gaston Pauls Helga ..... Natasa Lusetic Jasmina ..... Ecija Ojdanic

Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film.

Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime Sarajevo has been re-created with conviction: “Sniper Alley” and “Comanche Territory” (where one character notes that, as in a classic Western, “They can see us but we can’t see them”), the marketplace hit by a Serb mortar shell, the shattered apartment buildings, the wrecked cars, the terrified people — all these elements, familiar from TV coverage at the time, come vividly to life.

Convincing, too, is the camaraderie of the journalists who gather from many different countries to cover the war, but who speak a common language — that of the professional news gatherer. The most important thing for the TV journalists, next to staying alive, is to deliver material on time to home base. To achieve this end, they at times recklessly pursue hot stories and pictures, and relax with hard drinking bouts and steamy sexual encounters.

Pic’s plot is fairly minimal. At first, Laura is despised by her collaborators because, understandably enough, she’s too frightened to complete a news report out on the street where bullets come too close for comfort. But soon she’s as adept as the rest of them in filming scoops — maybe too adept, when she explores “the face of evil” by recording a sniper who proudly boasts about his work on camera.

“Comanche Territory” is extremely well crafted, with outstanding widescreen camerawork by Alfredo Mayo and wholly convincing production design by Luis Valles. Jorge Ruiz’s complex soundtrack is also praiseworthy, and editor Carmen Frias has made a major contribution to a solid, well-paced pic.

The actors fill their roles professionally, given the shallow characterization provided by the screenplay, which is by the director and Salvador Garcia; the absence of any significant background information about Laura is one of the film’s liabilities.

But, despite its flaws, “Comanche Territory” succeeds in providing a striking outsider’s view of an insane and tragic conflict.

Comanche Territory

Spanish - German - French - Argentine

Production: A Tornasol Films, BMG Entertainment (Madrid)/Road Movies (Berlin)/Blue Dahlia Films (Paris)/Kompel Prods. (San Luis) co-production. Produced by Javier Lopez Blanco, Gerardo Herrero. Executive producer, Mariela Besuievsky. Co-producers, Ulrich Felsberg, Gerard Jourd'hui, Christophe Jounent, Jose Ramon Ganchegui, Antonia Nava. Directed by Gerardo Herrero. Screenplay, Herrero, Salvador Garcia, based on the novel "Territorio Comanche," by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), Alfredo Mayo; editor, Carmen Frias; music, Ivan Wyszogrod; production design, Luis Valles; costumes, Eva Arrexte, Jelena Matic-Mihalic; sound (Dolby stereo), Jorge Ruiz; associate producers, Claudio Pustelnik, Pablo Kompel; assistant director, Jaime Botella. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 15, 1997. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: Mikel Uriarte ..... Imanol Arias Jose ..... Carmelo Gomez Laura Riera ..... Cecilia Dopazo Jadranka ..... Mirta Zecevic Olivier ..... Bruno Todeschini Manuel ..... Gaston Pauls Helga ..... Natasa Lusetic Jasmina ..... Ecija Ojdanic

More Film

  • Producer Jennifer Todd Beats Jason Blum

    Producer Jennifer Todd Beats Out Jason Blum in Academy Governors Runoff Election

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • Mel Gibson

    Mel Gibson Loses Bid to Block Release of 'Professor and the Madman'

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • Mary J. Blige

    Mary J. Blige to Star in Horror-Thriller 'Body Cam' for Paramount

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • Movie Theater

    The MoviePass Effect Is Here to Stay -- Even if MoviePass Isn't

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • George Clooney

    George Clooney in Negotiations to Direct Science-Fiction Thriller 'Echo'

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • Richard Greenberg Dead: Title Designer Was

    Richard Greenberg, Title Designer of 'Superman' and 'The Matrix,' Dies at 71

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

  • Set del film "Loro" di Paolo

    Film Review: 'Loro 2'

    Unfortunately, in the late 1990s these characters come across as cliches rather than as fully conceived human beings, which, together with some predictable plotting, detracts from what would otherwise have been an impressive war film. Certainly the viewer is given the impression of being placed, along with the newshounds, in a most vulnerable situation. Wartime […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content