Annette K. Olesen – Forbrydelser AKA In Your Hands (2004)

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Anna (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen) is a newly graduated theologian who has given up trying to have a baby with her husband Frank (Lars Ranthe). After accepting a temporary post as chaplain in a women’s prison, she soon hears stories about a new inmate called Kate (Trine Dyrholm) and her magical touch that can cure prisoners suffering from heroin withdrawal. Even though Kate detects that Anna is pregnant even before Anna knows it herself, Anna remains sceptical of the inmate’s powers, and horrified by the crime that got her convicted in the first place – but then an awful moral dilemma arises that requires Anna to believe in miracles. Continue reading

Carl Theodor Dreyer – Ordet AKA The Word [+extra] (1955)

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Plot:
A farmer’s family is torn apart by faith, sanctity, and love—one child believes he’s Jesus Christ, a second proclaims himself agnostic, and the third falls in love with a fundamentalist’s daughter. Putting the lie to the term “organized religion,” Ordet (The Word) is a challenge to simple facts and dogmatic orthodoxy. Layering multiple stories of faith and rebellion, Dreyer’s adaptation of Kaj Munk’s play quietly builds towards a shattering, miraculous climax.

Review:
‘Powerful’ doesn’t do justice to this 1955 exploration of life, death and faith from Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer. Based on Kaj Munk’s 1932 play, ‘Ordet’ is an austere, realist work on one level as it joins a farming family in their Jutland home over a short but devastating period of time. Continue reading

Susanne Bier – Elsker dig for evigt AKA Open Hearts (2002)

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Quote:
Cecilie is devastated when her fiance Joachim is seriously injured in a car accident and is paralysed from the waist down. She begins an affair with Niels, a doctor at the hospital where Joachim is being treated. Their relationship is further complicated by the fact that the doctor’s wife Marie was the driver that caused the accident in the first place. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Breaking the Waves (1996)

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Quote:
For those who aren’t aware of it, Lars von Trier is obsessed with Carl Dreyer. He views him as a father figure, his role model, his favorite film is “Ordet”, he used Henning Bendtsen as cinematographer on “Epidemic” and “Europa”, he bought the suit Dreyer wore at the opening of “Ordet” and wore it at the opening of “Europa” (and again in “Riget”) and finally, during an interview he announced “I am a Dreyer guy”.

Like “Ordet”, so does “Breaking the Waves” depict the conflict between dark religion, which preaches the fear of God, and light religion, which believes in the love of God, and Lars von Trier very wisely doesn’t question religion. Instead he employs the conflict as a tool by which to examine how love and goodness, a golden heart, leads to self-sacrifice and ultimately the martyrdom of Bess. Speaking of martyrdom, Lars von Trier made cinematographer Robby Müller shot Bess with same gaze as Falconetti in Dreyer’s “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”. As much he is a “Dreyer guy”, as much is “Breaking the Waves” a “Dreyer film”. Continue reading

Jørgen Leth – Det Erotiske Menneske AKA The Erotic Man (2010)

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Quote:
Erotic Man (Det Erotiske Menneske) (Director: Jørgen Leth): This somewhat experimental and extremely personal film raised so many issues for me to think about that I’m not sure my rating will align much with that of other reviewers. I don’t mind at all. Leth, who has been making films for more than 40 years, has made perhaps his most honest and personal one yet. An examination of the erotic, it’s more of a personal memoir, a record of an attempt to recreate (or create) memories or fantasies (romantic/sexual) from years of experiences all over the world. Leth seems to have an affinity for the exotic, having traveled extensively in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since 1991, he’s lived in Haiti, and this film seems to have emerged from a long-term love affair he experienced there. In fact, this film and his memoir The Imperfect Man have caused controversy in his native Denmark because in them he details his relationship with Dorothie, the 17-year-old daughter of his cook. Continue reading

Anders Walter – Helium (2014)

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A young boy Alfred is dying, but through the stories about HELIUM – a magical fantasy world, told by the hospital’s eccentric janitor Enzo, Alfred regain the joy and happiness of his life, and finds a safe haven away from daily life.

IMDB Review wrote:
The special begins with Anders Walter’s “Helium,” a Danish short that follows the life of a young boy named Alfred (Pelle Falk Krusbæk), a terminally-ill young boy who is wasting away in a children’s hospital. Alfred, however, has his mind temporarily taken off his illness when he meets Enzo (Casper Crump), a janitor who tells him of a place called “Helium,” an alternative place to go rather than Heaven. The idea of Heaven is unexciting to Alfred, and the idea of “Helium” even owes itself to the fact that Alfred loves balloons, blimps, and all sort of objects that fly thanks to air. Enzo makes him a red balloon dog, which he informs Alfred will allow the airship that will eventually pick him up to know where he is at and that he wants to go to “Helium” rather than Heaven. Continue reading