Ole Christian Madsen’s stylish noir depicts the thrilling actions and conflicted lives of two real-life Nazi assassins fighting for the Danish Resistance.
For Bent and Jørgen, codenamed Flame and Citron, it’s simple – they kill Nazis. As members of the Danish Resistance, fighting against the Nazi occupation of the country, they also assassinate Danish nationals of influential position who work alongside and in collaboration with the Nazis. Although they take out one or two targets of their own choosing, they normally don’t even have to select or question the names put forward to them for elimination. That’s done by Winther, the head of a select group of resistance fighters involved in spying, sabotage, couriering, smuggling and assisting Allied troops, who receives his instructions ultimately from the British Command. The two hitmen simply carry out their tasks coolly, ruthlessly and methodically. Things however prove to be not so simple…
Ole Christian Madsen’s story of two resistance fighters Bent Fauerschon-Hviid and Jørgen Haagen Schmidt, is slickly and dramatically filmed, with sharp contrasts that render it almost like a film noir, but it’s clearly no less dramatic than the real-life events. In a war-time situation of secrets, spying, informers and collaboration the keys issues boil down to the question of who can you really trust and how being involved in such murky and inhumane activities inevitably carries a heavy burden – not just for Flame and Citron, but for all those around them. The personal issues and conflicted positions of what they do soon take their toll on the men.
The film takes these issues in very successfully under the appearance of a slick, highly-stylised thriller, the camera simply adoring the intense flame-haired Thure Lindhardt and dark, moody Mads Mikkelson, who both put in charismatic performances of conflicted intensity and heroic purpose. It’s a little bit over-staged in places – particularly the endings – but that’s a minor quibble. For the most part, the film is stirring stuff, doing full justice to the complexity of the war-time situation, to the nature of heroism, to the nature of trust, and the nature of being human in inhumane times.
The Disc: The film’s anamorphic DVD transfer, at a ratio of about 2.30:1, is marvellous, showing excellent detail and colouration, with good stability, not a mark and not a flicker. It is however noticeably very different from the HD transfer on the Blu-ray disc, whose detail is almost clinical in comparison. The slight softening here does no harm whatsoever, making the film look rather more naturally film-like than the BD, and still looking impressive. There’s a DD 2.0 mix, but really you want to use the DD 5.1 mix, which is thundering and dynamic in all the right places. Subtitles unfortunately, while positioned inside the film frame, are not removeable. The director interview proves to be the most interesting extra feature, providing background information on the difficulty of getting documentary information and making a war film about events left forgotten in the past. A fine edition of an exceptionally good film.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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