Tangerines is an effective anti-war film. It deals with a specific conflict, but its message is universal. A little background: the Abkhaz are a relatively small minority who, upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, found themselves part of independent Georgia, which led to a movement among Abkhazians to form an independent nation of their own. Between August 1992 and September 1993, a war was fought between the Georgian army on one side and Abkhaz separatists on the other. The Russian government of Boris Yeltsin leaped at the opportunity to get involved on the side of the Abkhazians and even hired mercenaries to fight with them.
Tangerines takes place in a corner of Abkhazia that was inhabited by an ethnic Estonian minority. As the war engulfs their region, the Estonians flee to Estonia…except for two older men, Ivo and Margus, who insist on staying behind to harvest the tangerine crop. But one day the war comes to them. When they find injured combatants, one from each side, Ivo takes them both in while they recuperate from their injuries. One is an aspiring Georgian actor, a Christian, and the other is a Chechen mercenary, a Muslim. Ivo gets them to promise that they won’t try to kill each other inside his house.
Gradually the two enemies come together to help Ivo and Margus, who are, after all, caught in someone else’s war…as are so many of war’s victims in real life.