The Weight of Chains is a Canadian documentary film directed by Boris Malagurski which analyzes the role that the United States, NATO and the EU played in the breakup of Yugoslavia.
The Weight Of Chains presents a new perspective on Western involvement in the division of the ethnic groups within Yugoslavia and argues that the war was forced from outside, while regular people wanted peace. However, according to the author of the film, extreme fractions on all sides, fuelled by their foreign mentors, outvoiced the moderates and even ten years after the last conflict the hatred remains and people continue spreading myths of what really happened in the 1990s.
The film starts off with a brief history of Yugoslavia, explaining the idea of Yugoslavia and how it came to exist. Narrated by Malagurski himself, the film explains what happened in Yugoslavia during World War II and how Tito's Yugoslavia was formed. The pace slows down as Tito's death is documented and the author moves on to explain what happened to the Yugoslav economy in the 1980s, with specific mention of Ronald Reagan's National Security Decisions Directive 133 from 1984, which presents U.S. interests in Yugoslavia as promoting the "trend towards a market-oriented Yugoslav economic structure". The role of the National Endowment for Democracy in Yugoslavia is then analyzed and connected to the formation of G17 Plus. Privatization through liquidation is explained in a plastic manner, and presented as a major cause for the rise of ethnic tensions in the late 80s and early 90s, further fueled by Foreign Operations Appropriations Act 101-513, enacted during the George H. W. Bush era.
Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tuđman and Alija Izetbegović then receive a fair dose of critique in the film, with all of them described as being power-hungry and without much concern for their people. Domestic war mongers don't go unmentioned either. The role of local media is presented as having a major influence on mobilizing public opinion in favor of a conflict. The film then elaborates that the West openly diplomatically and covertly militarily supported separatist groups and encouraged conflict so that NATO could jump in as peacekeepers for their own interests. What the West gained in all of the republics of the former Yugoslavia is thoroughly depicted in the film. The film includes never before seen footage of a village in Bosnia where Serbs and Bosnian Muslims lived together up to the end of the Bosnian war, but were separated in peace times - with Serbs saying goodbye to their Muslim neighbours, who decided to collectively leave to their own entity, in tears.
The topic of Kosovo is covered most out of all the issues and the history of the region is carefully explained to show why the Kosovo war broke out. The film talks about the Battle of Kosovo, Kosovo's re-accession into Serbia's sovereignty in 1912, the persecution of Kosovo Serbs during World War II and Tito's Yugoslavia, as well as plans of Albanian irredentists to create an ethnically pure Greater Albania. The film then discusses what interests the Western powers had in Kosovo and why they decided to intervene in a secessionist war in 1999. Questions such as why a cigarette factory was bombed by NATO (and later bought by Phillip Morris) are tackled, with the conclusion that the purpose of the war was to economically colonize the country.
This film also presents positive stories from the war – people helping each other regardless of their ethnic background, stories of bravery and self-sacrifice. For this purpose, the widow of Josip Kir (former police chief of Osijek, Croatia) Jadranka Reihl-Kir was interviewed concerning her husband's attempts to resolve ethnic issues back in 1991 in a peaceful manner. The widow of Milan Levar, Vesna Levar, was also interviewed and spoke on her husband's fight to expose policies of ethnic cleansing in his hometown of Gospić, Croatia, where Croat forces killed dozens of Serb civilians. Another story of a local hero covered is that of a young Serbian man by the name of Srđan Aleksić, whose father talks how his son saved a Muslim man from certain death.
After discussing the wars of the 1990s, the film deals with what happened afterwards and how policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank affected the newly created former Yugoslav states. Furthermore, the European Union is presented in a negative context and a theory is presented that Eastern European states were never meant to be colleagues and equals with the West, but rather markets for Western industrial goods and cheap labor. The way in which the debt of the former Yugoslav countries has changed from 1990 to 2010 is graphically depicted, with revelations on how much money each citizen of the former Yugoslavia would have to pay in order for their countries to be debt free.
The message of the film is that of peace, but also a sober reminder of the negative consequences of globalization, advocating the idea that the people of the former Yugoslavia should stop quarreling between each other and become aware of why their country really fell apart, who benefited and what's still happening to this day.
May 20, 2011, 17:26:05
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