Directed by Anders Refn — Screenplay by Anders Refn and Flemming Quist Møller.
When I wrote up and released my brief thoughts on part one of Anders Refn’s De Forbandede År (int. title: Into the Darkness), a film about a family of Danes during the German occupation of Denmark, I was rather underwhelmed. World War II films tend to find an audience over here, and, as a bit of a history buff, I wanted this hugely ambitious project to land with more than just a thud. “Hopefully, its sequel will be better,” I wrote, though I must admit that I wasn’t optimistic.
The first film was powerful in moments because of how it highlighted a family in conflict because of the occupation. Some decided to become resistance fighters and rebel, while others decided to cooperate with the occupiers in an attempt to keep food on the table and keep some sense of normalcy, I suppose. I noted that the historical drama about the first half of the German occupation of Denmark held my interest and was interesting and ambitious, but, ultimately, it was a disappointment, and it felt both incomplete and rushed. Anders Refn is still at the helm for the second part of the Skov story, and, frankly, the end result is mostly the same. Jesper Christensen is the highlight, but the film is messy and overlong.
As the year is coming to an end, it makes a lot of sense to me to look back on the year that is coming to a close. Although it isn’t yet time for me to announce my 2022 year-end lists and awards winners (they’ll be released in January and February 2023), this is the right time to take a look at the ten most-read articles and reviews that I wrote this year. Let’s have a look at what caught your eye this last year.
Directed by Michael Bay — Screenplay by Chris Fedak.
At this point, I’m starting to get used to the idea of seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in American remakes of Danish films. In 2009, he appeared in Jim Sheridan’s Brothers, a remake of Susanne Bier’s Brødre. In 2021, he appeared in Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty, a remake of Gustav Möller’s Den Skyldige. And now, in 2022, he stars in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, a remake of Laurits Munch-Petersen’s Ambulancen. I don’t know what it is that draws him to Danish projects. What I do know is that I think Bay’s remake might be an improvement on the Danish film.
Directed by Barbara Rothenborg — Screenplay by Anders Rønnow Klarlund and Jacob Weinreich.
As a Dane, I’d love to be able to say that each and every Danish film is a must-watch. But that definitely wouldn’t be true. Not every Danish film is as good as Another Round, Riders of Justice, Queen of Hearts, or Speak No Evil — to name just a few of the recent Danish hits. Now that Netflix has started to produce Danish films, one would hope that their presence in the Danish film industry would be a really good thing. It could be. It’s certainly offering new opportunities for Danish filmmakers. But based on Toscana, Against the Ice, and now Kærlighed for Voksne (int. title: Loving Adults) it is becoming clear that the streamer is having a difficult time making truly memorable Danish films. Kærlighed for Voksne doesn’t work.
‘Borgen – Power and Glory,’ the fourth season of ‘Borgen’ is available on DR in Denmark and on Netflix internationally. It consists of eight episodes.
A Danish political drama and international hit, Adam Price’s Borgen is a critically acclaimed television show that takes its viewers into the Danish political system by focusing both on politicians, their families, their spin doctors, and the media. It originally ran for three seasons from 2010 to 2013, but has now been revived by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) and Netflix for a new season titled Borgen – Power and Glory (Borgen – Riget, Magten og Æren in Danish).
Directed by Mehdi Avaz — Screenplay/Story by Mehdi Avaz & Nikolaj Scherfig.
Thus far, Netflix has tried, and tried again, to make the kind of Danish hit series that would rival foreign language series hits like Germany’s Dark. They haven’t succeeded yet, as most of their series just come and go without making much noise. Shows like The Rain, Equinox, Chosen, or Elves weren’t really it, even though some of them had their moments.The Chestnut Man is, in my mind, still the best Danish straight-to-Netflix series that has come out.
However, when it is released on Netflix internationally on June 2nd, the revival of the Danish political fiction series and international hit Borgen — with its fourth season subtitled Power & Glory — could still amass a large following outside of Denmark (the season actually completed its run on Danish television a little while back, and I may write about it in the future). Toscana, however, is the first Danish Netflix Original Film, which is of course a big deal for the streamer and for the film’s director. Unfortunately, it is a film that I can’t recommend because there really is nothing fresh about it.
Directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch) – Screenplay by Robert Eggers & Sjón.
Inspired by Icelandic sagas and Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum legend of Prince Amleth of Jutland (the latter of which was supposedly the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet), The Northman is a $90 million budgeted epic viking revenge film from Robert Eggers, the director of the relatively low-budgeted indie ‘art house-esque’ horror films The Witch and The Lighthouse. It is a dirty, violent, blood-soaked, and brilliantly-made film, and it is easily Robert Eggers’ most accessible film, even though it definitely isn’t your average big-budgeted action film.
Directed by Christian Tafdrup – Screenplay by Christian Tafdrup & Mads Tafdrup.
At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, critics and festivalgoers alike were introduced to one of Denmark’s latest filmmaking provocateurs, Christian Tafdrup. The actor-turned-director got his career as a filmmaker started with his first two feature-length efforts Forældre (int. title: Parents) and En Frygtelig Kvinde (int. title: A Terrible Woman), the latter of which starred Amanda Collin (who you may have seen in HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves) and was a relative hit that provoked some audience-members. Speak No Evil — Tafdrup’s latest feature film — was received fairly well at the festival, and is, reportedly, one of the best films that actor Robert Pattinson has seen in many years. I won’t go that far, but I will say that I think this very unsettling Danish thriller is Tafdrup’s best film yet.
Directed by Peter Flinth – Screenplay by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau & Joe Derrick.
Against the Ice first showed up on my radar some time ago. I mean, can you blame me? As a Dane, it is really exciting when a major streamer like Netflix decides to acquire a historical survival drama about Danes, directed by a Dane, co-written by a Dane, and so much more. Really, I could go on and on about all of the Danes involved with the production. And yet, it isn’t actually in Danish. This aspect was a little bit of a disappointment to me, but I can understand why some may have felt it should be in English. Unfortunately, while I do think this is a mostly ‘okay’ survival drama, the language wasn’t my only disappointment.
International Title: Flee — Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.
The Danish submission for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flugt, is a mostly-animated documentary film about the experience of one refugee on his bumpy outer journey from Afghanistan via Eastern Europe to Denmark, as well as his complicated inner journey toward acceptance of himself so that he can open up to others and become the man that he wants to be, instead of running away from the sense of normalcy that he may desperately need.