SMC film department presents Ordinary People
The free screening of Ordinary People (2009), which took place last Friday at Santa Monica College, was the second film featured in SMC's Global Film Series led by Film Studies Professors Josh Kanin, and Salvador Carrasco. Ordinary People is a film written and directed by Vladimir Perisic, a native of Serbia, and centers on a group of Serbian soldiers being taken to a desolate location without many details of what awaits them next. When Dzoni, played by Relja Popovic, along with six other soldiers arrive at their unknown destination, they quietly sit and wait only to find out their mission is to annihilate a group of Croatian prisoners on a bus.
The screening of Ordinary People at SMC struck a lively discussion that went on for an hour and a half about the many challenging issues in the film. The film hit on many personal levels for student Robert Soto, who served in the U.S. Air Force. "All the things they were doing were so familiar, like the constant waiting with only your thoughts to keep you company," said Soto.
Professor Kanin feels the film's mostly quiet and slow setting debunks the traditional combat movie stereotype.
"Viewers get a sense that once you get through basic training and get out into the field wherever you're stationed to fight, it's really very boring because most of the time you sit around waiting for something to happen," said Kanin.
Professor Carrasco, who had the privilege of meeting director Perisic, explained that at first the film had no script or professional actors. There was a 20-page synopsis to get things rolling, but it was mostly created as they went along.
When the character Dzoni is ordered to kill the first group of Croatians along with his crew, his reluctance is made evident as he refuses to look at the Croatians while shooting.
Those in the audience all had a different reaction to the film's ending, which consisted of Dzoni just sitting down drinking coffee. "I didn't really experience the change with him," said Dustin Brown. Brown felt that the director made the film so hands off, that in the process he kept emotions out.
Shayna Muller felt the opposite, "When he was sitting there he was just completely desensitized," she said, "It's like now it's done and that's why he barely reacted to another gunshot in the distance."
With all the different reactions to the film, positive or negative, Carrasco believed it accomplished its point, which was to not set off indifference.
The film Ordinary People proved to be a unique interpretation of soldiers being faced with their own moral choices. "It's quite universal about the human condition," said Carrasco, "it's a deafening quietness."