A World War II drama which is set in Denmark and deals with the country’s move towards facism. Not surprising as the small country existed in the shadow of the Third Reich of Germany. This is a change which, amongst other things, places plenty of pressure on families as some members favour it while others are totally against it.
The Anders Refn (Seth) directed film is his first in 21 years. It was an extremely popular film in Denmark as it topped the box office there. An interesting examination of the two sides which Danish people found themselves on during World War II.
The date is April 9, 1940 and Danish industrialist Karl Skov (Jesper Christensen – Casino Royale, The Debt) has made a large profit off his relationship with the Germans. This puts him at odds with the rest of his family. They are against the fact that he is making money off of the German occupation of Denmark.
His son Aksel (Mads Reuther – In the Blood) is totally against what his father is doing. Father and son clash. Aksel becomes more and more disturbed about the German’s attempt to obliterate the Jews and communists and angry about the way they are controlling the Danish population. Believing it is the only thing to do, Aksel joins the Danish resistance movement.
Most of life is lived in grey areas. Decisions are rarely easy or clear. This grey gets even darker when you are living under occupation. People make choices they never would have under normal circumstances. They are just looking to stay alive and keep their loved ones safe. This means different things for different people.
All this is clearly depicted in Refn’s film. The electronics factory owner decides to work with the Germans so he doesn’t have to fire his workers. Firing his workers would mean that their families would end up starving. A tough decision, but one which he feels is the lesser of two evils.
Filled with a huge amount of characters, Refn has to juggle all of them plus give each enough screen time that they are fleshed out. Each character is a little different, each bringing a unique perspective to the story. Plus this is a huge story with plenty of elements. Tricky to bring to a coherent picture out of all this.
To really understand all that is happening and get all out of the film you should there is a requirement to know what the politics/situation is in Denmark during this time. If you don’t then you might find your mind whirling while watching.