Friday, April 17, 2009

A DANISH FILM IN DEVON: FLAMMEN & CITRONEN



We went to see the Danish film Flame and Citron, discussed  on here on FriendFeed crime and mystery room,  yesterday evening at the Barn Cinema at Dartington. You can read an interview with one of the film's stars Mads Mikkelsen here

The film, directed by Ole Christian Madsen, is a brilliant portrait of the a country under occupation and the moral problems faced by those who refuse to collaborate. It is a very violent film but gets inside the emotions of the characters and shows that no one can be trusted in that situation. Denmark was in a unusual position among the occupied countries in that the Germans regarded Danes as fellow Nordics,  and the occupation regime was not as harsh as it was in Poland. The population were caught in a moral dilemma of whether to resist and bring down the wrath of the Germans, or accept their privileged place in Nazi Europe.

Citron played by Mikkelsen starts out as the driver for Flame [Thure Lindhardt], a dedicated anti-Nazi, who is the designated assassin killing Danish Nazis and collaborators for the Holger Danske resistance movement. They work under orders from their shifty superior Aksel Winther, who might in fact  be the traitor within the network. The situation escalates when he gives orders to begin assassinating Germans, and also the femme fatale Ketty Selmer, played by Stine Stengade. We never know who is going to betray, or to be betrayed, as the film progresses to its violent end.

The effect of all the violence on us was mitigated by the setting of the Barn cinema on the beautiful Dartington Hall estate near Totnes , and an excellent post film dinner in the Great Hall. 
I could not help thinking as we had our meal how grateful I was for the location of English Channel, and the deeds of the RAF and Royal Navy during those years. The resistance movements in Occupied Europe were only very small minority of the population but they made up for that with extreme bravery and a necessary ruthlessness.

6 Comments:

Blogger Dorte H said...

"The population were caught in a moral dilemma of whether to resist and bring down the wrath of the Germans, or accept their privileged place in Nazi Europe."
Spot on, Norman. When I was a child, it was easy for me to believe the Danish tradition of us being the good guys together with Britain and France, and it hurt when I grew older and read more reliable accounts of the war.
Most nationalities have issues to come to terms with, however, and my quiet father taught me a lot about not seeing things as purely black or white.

9:04 AM  
OpenID maxine said...

Hear, hear for the RAF, Norman. We owe those brave heroes so much (and their fellows in the other branches of the armed forces).

Not sure if this film is quite my cup of tea based on your review as I find violent films unpalatable, but maybe I will give it a try - will have to be on DVD as we rarely get "art" in Kingston as we are rather short of barns round here - there are too many "teen nightclubs" taking up all the available space.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Dorte.
I remember our guide one day in Copenhagen saying she had spent 45 minutes buried in rubble after the RAF bombed the Gestapo HQ and her school which was next door.
When you are dealing with a terrible enemy the conduct of war is very rarely black and white. The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia in June 1942 lead to the murders of the innocent population of Lidice and Lezaky. How do you then justify the decision to kill Heydrich?

The Danes probably acted better than most peoples would under the circumstances of the occupation and the resistance helped 8,000 Danish Jews escape to Sweden.

12:25 PM  
OpenID bookwitch said...

Maxine, I don't think this was any more violent than most films. Most of the film dealt with normal human problems. Try it!

12:37 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine, it is violent and Mrs Crime Scraps did not enjoy it much although she thought it was a very good film and the acting was superb.
At least with a DVD you can stop it or fast forward it.

Dartington Hall was absolutely idyllic and on the approach road is Highcross House, an internatioal modernist 1930s house designed by the Swiss American architect William Lescaze for the first headmaster of Dartington Hall school. You could plop Hercule Poirot in it and he would be completely at home.

I remember Mrs CS explaining to the children years ago that Dartington was dedicated to the arts, crafts, music, ecology, sustainability and social justice at the very moment that a huge lorry arrived to deliver incredible amounts of Fosters.

12:44 PM  
OpenID maxine said...

Thanks - I find it hard to foresee ever getting to the end of the excellent Jewel in the Crown (available very cheap on DVD from Amazon in an anniversary edition) - but if I do, this will be on the list for consideration.

1:06 PM  

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