The Promised Land

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From BAFTA nominated writer and director, Nikolaj Arcel, comes a powerful Nordic epic starring Mads Mikkelsen. In 1755, the impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen sets out to conquer the uninhabitable Danish heath in the name of the King. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, who believes the land belongs to him, swears revenge when the maid Ann Barbara and her serf husband escape for refuge with Kahlen. (Icon Home Entertainment)


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English I often find myself searching in vain for the right dose of gloomy and eerie atmosphere combined with tension in thrillers and horror movies. Yet, here I am, feeling like a complete idiot. All it takes is to watch a film about the expansion of Danish agriculture and you'll be looking for a rope and a nice beam in the attic to end all that depression. But hey, wait for those end credits to roll first, because despite its gloomy (or even somber) tone, this film is extremely good. Even though I'm from the country, I don't enjoy digging in the soil (I prefer livestock), but here I found myself enthusiastically watching the captain's battle for a good harvest against the whims of nature and other disasters. How could I not root for the main hero, especially when he was portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, whose face radiates internal anguish? Plus, he is so convincing he could make me believe he grew a row of melons from carrot seeds. What I found disappointing was the ending which somewhat undermined the experience for me. / Lesson learned: Playing fetch can lead to a lifelong commitment. ()


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English A gritty low-budget historical drama that can hold its ground compared to its Western friends. A fine Mads Mikkelsen as a soft-spoken retired captain, a great villain escalating the pissed-offness of both the protagonist and the viewer, and a magical landscape of Danish moorland wilderness, very impressively shot by Rasmus Videbaek. I expected a tougher finale, but it somehow fell into a romantic template, but it was not a big deal and Bastard retained its toughness and dignity. ()



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English Great. Old-school attitude and Mads Mikkelsen's stubborn expression in a solid film with a great script that grabs you by the heart. Danish moors and beautiful shots of the rugged landscape. And, of course, there's one motherfucker you wish the worst for, wondering the whole time why the captain didn't put a bullet through his head right from the start. A great story with a strong conclusion and a worthwhile point. ()


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English A likable film with a likably unlikable protagonist driven by wounded ambition. The Promised Land blends a serious historical epic with some penny-dreadful twists that ultimately prevent the film from forcefully crowning Kahlen’s fate as an entirely tragic and self-destructive character. The Promised Land comes across as a film in search of itself on the heath. Fortunately, Arcel elevated his directing above that in the slightly TV-like A Royal Affair, Rasmus Videbæk beautifully captures the chiaroscuro and Mads Mikkelsen plays his unapproachable father character with his usual precision. The film wants to throw a powerful jab with its ending, but it winds up choosing a safer route that doesn’t offend, but it doesn’t satisfy either. ()


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English An excellent historical drama that grabs you by the balls. Mads Mikkelsen should ditch Hollywood, because there it's one misstep after another for him, but once he's in his native Denmark, it's usually a decent blast, and Bastard excels right out of the gate. The story focuses on Ludvig Kahlen, a man who has worked his way up from gardener to captain, and his dream is to build a colony in the inhospitable surroundings of the moors, with the coveted title of nobility as a reward when he achieves his goal. But he soon makes enemies. Nearby lives Frederik de Schinkel, a ruthless, arrogant lord who believes that this land belongs to him and not to the king, and gives Ludvig a hard time on more than one occasion. The first half is a bit of a getting-to-know-you kind of movie, but thanks to an attractive premise and great actors, the film holds your attention very well. Once the film switches to the second half, some very interesting things start to happen. The atmosphere, cruelty and barbarism of the time is captured very believably. Mikkelsen has to make a lot of tough decisions and overcome a lot of difficult obstacles to achieve his goal. There's one scene reminiscent of Sophie's Choice that decently manages to mine the emotions out of the viewer, and then there's one surprise after another, and a delightful little stealth action sequence. The film is so good that it gets by without battles and that's saying something, especially for for me. 85% ()

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