Review: Here Be Dragons


Hiding in tall grass, a young man and woman have found a place to be innocently together. Unfortunately, it is Serbia in the early 1990s and the two are on somewhat opposing sides. David Locke is a British soldier, technically neutral, on a UN team tasked with mitigating the conflict in the fast-accelerating Balkan War. She is the daughter of a wealthy Serbian family that is expected to side with Serbia’s sovereign right to wage war.

Suspicion is aroused and even David’s fellow soldiers admonish him. Fraternizing with the locals puts everyone in danger. But the young man is totally in love and ignores all the warnings.

Not long after the meeting in the grass David comes upon an extreme, brutal Serbian rebel commander, Jovan Petrovic, and learns that because of him, his girlfriend and her family have been killed. One barely surviving member of the bloody carnage is left, his girlfriend’s brother, Emir. David is singled out to retrieve the almost lifeless body from a truckload filled with carnage. Befriending the UN peacekeepers had been marked as treasonous by the mercenary Serbs.

Fast forward to 2017 and it turns out that David eventually became a UN war crimes investigator. He is on a team responsible for bringing war criminals from the Balkan War to the International Court at the Hague for trial.

It has been announced that the search for Serbian criminals of war has ended, yet David is belatedly contacted by Emir, who had been paralyzed from the waist down from the earlier family massacre, with information leading to Petrovic, the brutal commander responsible for killing his sister and the girl David had loved.

Since the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has officially ended, David is not given permission to search for this commander he so desperately wants to hold accountable. So, driven by passion and the support of wealthy Emir, he goes alone, without his team. What he finds adds to the depth and complicated decisions he must make. Petrovic has transformed himself into a good guy with a sweet son.

Australian filmmaker Alastair Newton Brown has written that “Here Be Dragons” is a classic hero’s journey. It is indeed a remarkable example of the protagonist who must undergo many tests and hardships until he comes to “the great abyss.” Tested by “dragons” of corruption, duplicity, extortion and betrayal, Brown’s protagonist faces an abyss worthy of Joseph Campbell. Instead of just a physical crisis, David also is given a moral test.

The greatness of Brown’s script, following the template of the hero’s journey, is that if David succeeds in overcoming the greatest crisis, he must come back to the world to do good. The problem is that the hero must first find a way to pass his greatest test and that is the crux of “Here Be Dragons.”

Alastair writes, paraphrasing Stanley Kubrick, widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, that when all choices seem corrupt and self-incriminating, … “maybe the answer lies within … however vast the darkness, you must supply your own light.”

“Here Be Dragons” is an exceptional work of art by an accomplished team who worked with Brown and his superb cast to present a work of uncommon depth and moral strength.

Writer/Director: Alastair Newton Brown
Executive Producer: Milos Djukelic
Producers: Alastair Newton Brown, Nathan Sapsford and Marc Windon
Cast: Nathan Clark Sapsford, Slobodan Bestic, Marija Bergam and Svetislav ‘Bule’ Concic
Music: Brian Cachia
Cinematography: Mar Windon
Editing: Alastair Newton Brown and Mark Warner
Filming location: Belgrade, Serbia
Release: World Premier at 2022 Conquest Film Festival, August 24, 2022
Pruneyard Cinemas, Campbell, CA, August 29, 2022
Tickets: “Here Be Dragons”

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