INTO THE DARKNESS (De forbandede år)
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Anders Refn
Writers: Flemming Quist Møller, Anders Refn
Cast: Jesper Christensen, Bodil Jørgensen, Mads Reuther, Gustav Dyhekjær Giese
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 4/21/21
Opens: May 21, 2021
Hitler considered the Danes übermenschen just like the Germans, so when Germany conquered Denmark in April 1940 he was taken back by the resistance. That’s why, when you see Anders Refn’s “Into the Darkness” which points out that many Danes welcomed the Germans, some going so far as to don Nazi uniforms and joining them at the Russian Front, you realize that not all people were aghast at the occupation. Then again, you rarely if ever find that “all people” approve this or disapprove that, as we learn in our own politics here in the United States. Suffice it to say that some were pro-Nazi, welcomed by the Reich because Germany by itself could never have rolled over so many countries without help by the conquered, and others risked their lives hiding Jews, even risking death by joining the resistance. The split inside wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen and all areas outside of the capital split families asunder. For one reason or another, some men and women were pro-German. For another reason or another, some men and women were horrified by the intrusion. Director Refn, known more for his work as a film editor than as a director as with “Antichrist” (grieving couple goes to a cabin in the woods) and “Breaking the Waves” (wife feels guilty when husband becomes paralyzed), finds a juicy narrative by focusing on one particular family.
Running happily in chronological order, which is the most effective way for introducing most films even nowadays, Refn focuses on a large family run by patriarch Karl Skov (Jesper Christensen), who runs a successful factory outside Copenhagen producing, uh, we have no idea except that he depends on a supplier for getting copper wire and is doing just fine giving his wife and brood the good life. He has political differences with his wife Eva (Bodil Jørgensen) who is appalled by the Nazi occupation and urges her husband not to produce goods for the enemy, and his eldest son Aksel (Mads Reuther), who will risk all in joining the resistance. At least old Karl has a practical reason for his collaboration: if he refuses to turn his factory into a profitable union with the Germans, he would plunge his entire family into bankruptcy. Then again even his naïve daughter Helene (Sara Viktoria Bjerregaard) is so caught up by passion for a German U-boat officer that she cannot wait to marry him—and maybe to have her hair shaved off by her countrymen for loving the enemy.
On the other hand, son Michael (Gustav Dyhekjær Giese), who fought against the Russians in Finland, uses anti-Bolshevism as his excuse to trade his Danish colors for a German uniform, though he may not be too pleased with his assignment to fight at the Eastern Front.
Call this a slow-burn, if you will, if you want to compare it to wartime action films like “The Longest Day,” “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” “Fury” and a few hundred others, and that’s all to the good. Jesper Christensen’s outstanding performance as the center of the drama gives us the idea that there really are reasons for siding with the enemy. After all, he does not want to bring his family to financial ruin. And there are excuses for resisting the enemy that do not have so much to do with patriotism than with a hatred of your enemy’s enemy, namely Russia. The film is long, intense albeit with limited histrionics, and well worth your attention.
152 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – A-
Acting – A-
Technical – A
Overall – A-
Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.