The Not-So-Ordinary Acts of ORDINARY PEOPLE

GFI Board Member Igor Kirman on Vladimir Perisic’s question of mind versus morality

“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.” –Hannah Arendt, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”

“If the person for some reason knew it was illegal … and still obeyed it, he could not use the de-fense of obedience of orders …. Do you really need to bring a bunch of intelligent people into the room and tell them not to shoot babies?” –William Eckhard, Chief Prosecutor, My Lai court martial

A scene from Vladimir Perisic's ORDINARY PEOPLE

At the heart of Serbian writer-director Vladimir Perisic’s chilling film, ORDINARY PEOPLE, is the long-vexing question of whether morally depraved actions—in this case, the shoot-ing of unarmed men by a group of young soldiers—can be excused on the grounds that the perpetrators were following orders. The film succeeds in great measure by making this question harder to answer than may at first appear.

The plot is minimalist, with slow-takes and sparse dialogue. Although the director is careful not to locate the action, in time or place, to lend the film an air of universal significance, the language (Serbian) and other clues suggest the action takes somewhere in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. The

Continue reading The Not-So-Ordinary Acts of ORDINARY PEOPLE