The Atrocity of War
Release Date: March 15, 2002
Starring: Andie McDowell, David
Strathairn, Elias Koteas,
Adrien Brody, Brendan Gleeson,
and Alun Armstrong
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Rating: R, for violence and language
Runtime: 130 minutes
Distributor: Universal Focus/Universal
Director: Elie Chouraqui
Producer: Elie Chouraqui and Albert
Writer: Elie Chouraqui, Isabel Ellsen,
Michael Katims, and Didier Le
Address Comments To:
Stacey Snider, Chairman
Ron Meyer, President/COO
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
(HH, B, C, LLL, VVV, S, A, DD, MM) Cynical humanist worldview with fatalistic tone about no-win wars; some elements of a biblical, Christian worldview with protagonist’s Jewish friends praying and quoting scripture in Hebrew at a funeral & Croatian woman praying before death; atrocious language with about 95 obscenities and four profanities; extremely graphic violence with thousands of depictions of the havoc of war - guns, explosions, deaths, attempted raping, people killed at gunpoint, dead bodies strewn everywhere, snipers shooting news media, screaming families herded into buildings and killed with grenades, etc.; several allusions to sex between protagonist and husband & attempted rapes during war; no nudity, but Serbian child shown in after-rape position with bloody legs; alcohol use; smoking and drug use and abuse; and, lying, rude insults and every other disturbing display of war-ravaged existence.
HARRISON’S FLOWERS is a movie about the senselessness of ethnic and religious wars, centered on the search of a woman for her missing journalist husband. With extreme profanity and graphic violence, one might rather choose to read about such wars in history books, rather than spend a painful 130 minutes of visual nightmares.
Britain’s Margaret Thatcher once said, “The veneer of civilization is very thin.” The portrayals HARRISON’S FLOWERS prove her right.
HARRISON’S FLOWERS is the disturbing and graphic story of a woman, Sarah (Andie McDowell), who sets out on a perilous journey in 1991 to find her husband, Harrison (David Strathairn), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, father and amateur florist, who is missing at the front of the Serbian-Croatian war in Yugoslavia.
Others say he is dead, but Sarah replies, “Something would have broken inside if he were dead.” She also believes she sees Harrison’s back on a CNN news clip, and she gets a silent, but very long-distance-sounding phone call that she thinks is from Harrison. Quickly she, places their two children, Caesar and Margot, with relatives, and takes off to the war-ravaged land of Croatia. Once at the front, Sarah witnesses the murder and mayhem of war immediately, including the killing of her innocent guide, but she manages to find several of Harrison’s colleagues and convince them to help her in the search for her husband.
During the search, Sarah and her friends find out that in religiously-motivated, age-old conflicts, “there are no good guys and no bad guys.” Sarah gets increasingly disturbed, and one reporter snaps at her, “This is war . . . mines, bullets and bombs . . . It’s a real war. Didn’t your husband ever mention it?” The photojournalists enlighten Sarah about how certain extremists cut out the eyes of their enemies and collect them to brag about their victory. One reporter says, “They know that our photos will tell the story of this war. They want us to be here.”
Thus, the group is safe for awhile, but when they manage to sneak into the barricaded city where the worst of the fighting is happening, one of their party gets shot and killed, just when his jealousy toward the prize-winning Harrison had melted, and he had shown himself to be brave and loyal. The intensity of Sarah’s love for Harrison is actually having an effect on all the journalists at the war’s front. One man says to another, “We’d better both pray that someday we find somebody that loves us the way she loves him.”
Soon, though, all are about to give up hope, when word arrives that a Frenchman had seen an American, alive but in bad shape. The search party continues with a fervor, now determined to make it to the hospital in Vokavar, the center of the worst fighting. After witnessing thousands upon thousands of explosions, killings and the after-effects of rape, some in the party are numb and almost unable to continue. Sarah must decide whether or not she has the fortitude to continue the search for a man who might be dead. She must convince the others to press forward, continuing to have faith, despite the circumstances that laugh ironically in the face of any victory.
HARRISON’S FLOWERS is a relatively well-made movie that honors the memory of all the photojournalists that died in the Serbian-Croatian conflict. It is dark, and graphic, however, and just too much at times. Also, the love story is minimal, simply a tool to get viewers to the war and keep them there way too long.
With almost 100 obscenities and thousands of disturbing war images, moviegoers probably would rather simply read about this no-win war than spend the time watching this violent depiction of it. If you already know that most wars are brutal and senseless and fought in much blindness of spirit, you may want to spend your box office dollars on lighter, more uplifting fare.
HARRISON’S FLOWERS is the disturbing and graphic story of a woman, Sarah (Andie McDowell), who sets out on a perilous journey in 1991 to find her husband, Harrison (David Strathairn), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, father and amateur florist, who is missing in Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. Against all odds, she manages to convince several of Harrison’s colleagues to help her search for her husband. After witnessing thousands of explosions, killings, and the after-effects of rape, Sarah must decide whether or not she has the fortitude to continue the search for a man who might be dead. During the search, Sarah and her friends find out that in religiously-motivated, age-old conflicts, “there are no good guys and no bad guys.”
HARRISON’S FLOWERS is a relatively well-made movie that honors the memory of all the photojournalists that died in the Serbian-Croatian conflict. It is dark, and graphic, however, with almost one hundred obscenities and thousands of disturbing war images. Also, the love story is minimal, simply a tool to get us to the war and keep us there. Viewers may rather read about this no-win war than spend the time watching this violent depiction of it