Entries tagged with “Stellan Skarsgård”.

Can the unforgivable be forgiven? What is the right attitude towards perpetrators and collaborators of crimes of war, genocide and torture? Does time really heal? Is revenge the right answer? Is forgiveness possible and who has the right to forgive? Such questions are often asked in the war and especially Holocaust literature and cinema. Answers differ, as they do in real life and history. , the strong dramatic film inspired by the true characters and life stories of Eric Lomax and Takesi Nagase, asks and tries to provide an answer in the historical context of the killing prisoner camps of British prisoners in Japanese occupied Indochina during WWII.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107


For many of the survivors of genocides or atrocities the wars that inflicted their sufferance never end. This was for many decades the case of Eric Lomax (acted as a young man by and by at his maturity). He surrounds himself with a wall of silence and has difficulties to adapt to life after the war. The late story of love in his life (the second marriage in his real biography) imposes on him the duty to come to terms – one way or another – with his past. He has a chance that his fellows (like officer Finlay acted by ) would not have. This means meeting face to face his torturer and traveling back to the infamous Kwai river area where the allied prisoners who fell in the hands of the Japanese were held during the war. This type of prisoner – guardian (or torturer) encounter many years later can also be seen in various war and Holocaust books films. Eventually – and this also happened in real life in this case – reconciliation and forgiveness prevail over enmity and revenge, with the former enemies having the chance to look one into the eyes of the other. The balance between honor and dignity in time of war switches, as the guilt turns into remorse, and revenge into forgiveness.


(video source LionsgateFilmsUK)


The auto-biographical book written by Eric Lomax was turned by the script in a dramatic and romantic story which succeeds to be true to the essence while omitting some of the details of the story (for example Eric’s first marriage).  achieves one of the best performances in his career, with very good support from and . Director  does a fine efficient job in telling the story in a fluent manner, with discretion and avoiding useless effects. The flashbacks from the war times are very well filmed and the period rendered in a very credible manner. Conflicts between nations include a myriad of personal conflicts and stories of lives broken by wars. Peace and reconciliation between nations can become true and lasting only when most of the suffering is overcome. This film describes one possible story. We may agree or not with the path taken by the heroes,  but we need to acknowledge and respect the dignified way it is being told and made public – including in this movie.


When he is not making provocative statements at news conferences  makes movies. Some of them are shocking. Some of them are stunning. I did not like all his films (Dogville was too dry an experiment for me) and I am yet to see Nymphomaniac. Melancholia however falls in the category of those films of his which I love – together with the TV series The Kingdom and with Breaking the Waves. Many film makers dealt with the end of the world (and some with what comes after). The majority of them made catastrophic movies – in all sense you want to consider this. Lars van Trier made a poetic and amazingly beautiful film.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1527186/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1527186/


The film is divided in two parts, each deals closer with one of the two sisters belonging to a very rich and a troubled family living in a mansion surrounded by green pastures, with servants and black horses, with telescopes to entertain the hobby of watching the stars. Justine, the younger sister () gets married in the first part. It’s an unusual marriage, and the bride does not seem too happy about the event. Her behavior is close to erratic, and the aristocratic wedding party turns into a failure. Is she sick by the kind of mental depression that centuries ago was called melancholy? Does the mysterious planet in the sky that at some point covers one of the stars have any influence or connection with her state?

The second part focuses first on the other, elder sister, Claire (). She is apparently the more mature of the two and controls the situation the day after and a few months after the breaking of the party, when Justine, in a visibly deteriorating state comes to the mansion. The mysterious gas planet now appears to be on collision path with Earth, or maybe not, as scientists and John, Charlotte’s husband () believe. Soon the balance will be reversed, as the death dance played by the planets becomes more and more menacing. Justine, the younger sister who first felt the power of the planets will regain control and find the magic to face the inevitable, Claire will be the one to slide into despair, while John will be unable to use the rational, scientific approach to explain or cope with what happens.


(video source triviatrailers)


This film is about the power of stars, about the irrelevance of the social relations when compared with the cosmic dimensions, about sanity and insanity and the balance between them. It’s fascinating and its beauty has the source in the splendid cinematography (by Manuel Alberto Claro) , in the superb cast (besides Dunst and Gainsbourg, a few other remarkable actors appear in the first half of the film – , , ). It’s simply the most beautiful film about the end of the world that I have seen, or even better – the most beautiful end of the world brought on screen.


Quentin Tarantino or the Coen brothers would have loved to make this film. It is  filled with characters from their world, transplanted in the hellish cold landscape of Scandinavia. If I am to compare it with experiences that are familiar to the ‘mainstream’ cinema viewers ‘In Order of Disappearance’ is a combination between the world of Tarantino, with his little-brained gangsters immersed in their own sub-cultured world transported in the landscape of ‘Fargo’ the original with its endless landscapes of snow and the cold that crosses the screen to almost freeze the cheeks of the viewers in the cinema theater.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2675914/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2675914/


As in many other gangster stories tragedy hits by hazard a regular family whose son is killed by mistake for being at the wrong place and time which intersects with a drug trafficking scheme. When the police takes the easy path of declaring the incident an accidental overdose case, the father decides to follow the path of the killers and to take revenge. The fact that he is driving a huge snow-plow will play an important role in what follows, and this is where director Hans Peter Molland seems to make another respectful bow to one of the earlier movies of Spielberg, where a huge truck is chasing a man on deserted roads. The temperature is different here.


(video source Film Festivals and Indie Films)


I mentioned a number of possible quotes, and they may be real or just reflect my own cinematographic associations. Actually this is a very original and well made film, with an exquisite cinematography based on the contrast of snow and darkness, with a Scandinavian atmosphere and a very Scandinavian hero (superb acting from ) with all the sadness of a grieving father and the resolution of making justice, even when left left with no choice.  On the way the film also makes a few painful comments about the state of things in the Scandinavian society, the relation with the immigrants, the culture, the prejudices and the lack of empathy to the fellow human. It is populated with a full world of tragicomic characters, and it is fun to watch. Go and find it!