on December 10, 2009
In German and Danish language with English subtitles. Based
on actual events.
In 1942, during WWII, a group of resistance fighters were
formed in Copenhagen, Denmark and named "Holger Danske";
a group which liquidated traitors and at the same time
attempted to avoid intervention by the Germans. Two of
the group's most famous members were Jorgen Haagen Scmith
"Citron" and Bent Faurschou-Hviid "Flame" whom the Germans
eventually sought out for the death of several Nazis.
"Flame and Citron" is a Danish produced drama and the most
expensive film made in Denmark thus far. It is directed adeptly
and really captures the essence of Denmark and what it must
have been like during Nazi occupation. The content is taken
very seriously with little in the way of hyperbole and the
actors portray their characters with stark realism. The pacing
is done very well and maintains ones interest until the very
end. The scripting is also handled very well in this wholly
political drama, so much in fact that you don't want to miss
any important dialogue, which is a majority of the film.
Being a part of the "Holger Danske" meant living one's life
on the edge and made maintaining a relationship virtually
impossible. The group was twice infiltrated by the Gestapo
resulting in the death of 64 of its members. "Flame" and
"Citron" however are steadfast in their fight for the democratic
state of their country amidst the Communists and Fascists.
Thier loyalty to Denmark is unwaivering, however, they eventually
find out that all is not what it seems - deceit and confusion
are rampant in war and they quickly realize that they are no
excpetion to these rules.
A impressively done war film well worth the rental price and
the purchase price for WWII enthusiasts.
on August 29, 2009
In the interest of full disclosure, I should preface my review by saying that I watched this film on pay-per-view cable, not Blu-ray. Nevertheless, I found this to be a solid and compelling WW2 drama. As a WW2 "buff" I am a bit embarassed to say that I know virtually nothing about the German occupation of Denmark, or that country in general for that matter. This is the true story of the Danish resistance movement, but more specifically the legendary figures of Flame and Citron; two friends who reach the status of underground heroes for their brazen assassinations of German occupiers and Danish collaborators alike. Flame in particular, the soft-spoken, sharp-dressing 23 year-old, manages to become the most hunted man in Denmark. The film is a bit slow and drawn out, but I found it quite suspenseful as the men navigate the treacherous underworld of partisans and Gestapo spies. Friends turn out to be foes, and vice versa, and what spy thriller would be complete without the perfidious seductress who entices our heroic protagonist to his own downfall? The acting and script struck me as most excellent and the cinematography, while simple, was well done also. The brief shots of the Danish countryside were quite lovely, while the majority of the film takes place in the dreary, uniformly gray mass of downtown Copenhagen. This sets a very somber mood for the film. The film is in Danish and German with English subtitles. 4 stars.
on January 22, 2010
This film succeeds on many levels. It is lovely to look at, with the gorgeous Danish countryside and majestic city of Copenhagen as settings. It is effective, capturing very clearly what the world must have been like at this time. It is compelling. We sweat and worry and shout and cringe with the lovingly portrayed characters. Those are all good things. They make an entertaining film. But it is more than that as well.
There are movies that try to do very little, "exploring" or "suggesting" or other mealy-mouthed words demonstrating that there is no real theme to them. When a movie "explores" the theme of love, I know that people will be in love, but that no particular idea beyond a platitude or two will be discussed. But this movie does an amazing job demonstrating a very easy to state but challenging to convey theme. War is confusing. It is hard to know who is on your side. People lie to their advantage, and when their lives are at stake, they can lie quite convincingly. When nearly everyone is lying, and with a lot to lose, it is challenging to separate the deceitful from the honest. How does one decide who is who? Yet guessing wrong makes you complicit with evil, or dead, or both.
Flame and Citron are two idealists who believe they are acting for good. But things are never what they seem, and by the end of this film you will realize just how beautifully this film makes that clear. I don't know if passivity is the answer, but even when you clearly know what the good is, who is working for it and who is working against it is very difficult to identify.
And then, to tell us that movements need heroes, even if they're false ones, and conclude the film with the information that these two men were canonized as heroes, well, the irony is perfect. No easy answers here, even when the film is over, but a lovely portrayal of the confusion, anxiety, and exasperation that accompany life in trying times.
Ole Christian Madsen's "Flame and Citron" equals, to my mind, Melville's mind numbingly powerful "Army of Shadows"--something I had not honestly anticipated.
Flame (Bent Faurschou-Hviid) and Citron (Jørgen Haagen Schmith) were the action heroes of Denmark's Resistance to the Nazi Regime and having read about the two of them it is not too hard to understand why. Infamous for doing what most were both reluctant and terrified to do (actually shooting German soldiers and members of the SS in the street), it seems that it is less the effectiveness of the two men than their bravado and sheer physical courage which is so venerated. Though in the movie it is haphazardly implied that each had a plan for escape, these plans could have only been very vague. People were tortured and hung for a fraction of what they did and they managed to pull it off for two years. Both were killed in precisely the ways the film depicts in 1944. None other than President Harry Hiroshima Truman presented Flame with a very posthumous Medal of Freedom in 1951.
These two heroic and also terrifying individuals are played brilliantly by Thure Lindhardt (Flame, looking every bit Dostoevsky's Raskolnikvov) and Mads Mikkelsen (Citron, the actor's performance as this man tortured by his responsibilities to his family and his unwavering commitment to the Resistance is so powerful as to be frightening at times) are caught in a wretched web of lies and deception no more romantic than a Gothic novelist's version of Fabio going mad.
While we are given very little insight in the past of these two, it is obvious that Citron has something to prove about his manhood (the scene in which he tries to reconcile himself with his wife goes to show exactly how the impulse toward violence, however nobly conceived, indelibly stains the human psyche) and that Flame has paternal issues which often disable him from executing authoritative members of the Gestapo who see his youthful weakness and exploit it.
The irony is that their superiors talk about "liquidation" in precisely the same terms the Third Reich talked about "liquidation" in terms of massacring Jews. Madsen's obvious point is driven home with ruthless clarity: at what point does the righteous revolutionary become as bad as the tyrants they rabidly pursue? Why did these two take little interest in sabotage, perhaps hiding Jews or saving them? The answer may be that since they had no foreknowledge of the Allies winning the war they saw what they were doing as the only possible means: getting rid of the German army and all collaborators one by one before they take over the world? That is far too simple, and the answer is infinitely more complex and ominous.
That old edict, "violence begets violence", is in the end a truth they learn far too late. The twist in the film which reveals that they have been badly misguided as to who they have been assassinating and leaves nothing for them but horrendous guilt and yet a determination to act on their own. It seemed pretty obvious to me who was betraying them from the moment the person was introduced into the film, but Flame probably figured he wanted to live as a normal man and not just an assassin at least in one area of his life. Whatever one's quabbles about their methods, one cannot help but admire the way they go out, just as they lived. A movie which is a meditation on conscience in a time where right and wrong were discarded like cheap deck of Uno cards. A masterpiece.
"Flame and Citron" were the code names of a 2-man team of assassins who worked for the Danish resistance Holger Danske group during World War II. Their real names were Bent Faurschou-Hviid and Jorgen Haagen Schmith. The film takes place primarily in Copenhagen 1944, when the duo targeted Danish collaborators and Danish Nazis. Bent was usually the gunman and Jorgen the driver. Bent (Thure Lindhardt) is a 23-year-old educated and affluent idealist who has chosen to live under an assumed identity, in a basement, and kill people for his country. Jorgen (Mads Mikkelsen) is 10 years older, living on alcohol and pills, growing ever more distant from his wife and young daughter.
Flame and Citron go about killing people as if it were everyday business, which it has become for them. They pick up their orders from Aksel Winther (Peter Mygind), go shoot people in the head, and go back into hiding until the next hit list is prepared. They're not killing people; they're killing Nazis. At least that's what they tell themselves. But, as tends to happen in nations occupied and divided by war and ideologies, things get muddy. Bent becomes infatuated with the mysterious Mrs. Ketty Selmer (Stine Stengade), who works for Winther, or for someone else, or for herself. And Winther orders the assassinations of some German Abewahr agents, which provokes a bloody retaliation.
"Flame and Citron" is a good-looking period drama. It's compelling and, frankly, violent enough that its 2 hours and 20 minutes don't seem too long. The visuals are conventional, and we've all seen countless World War II dramas set in Europe. But these ideas are a little different. Instead of simply heroic fighters and Nazi oppressors, we see an additional layer of people: Those who, for whatever reason, played both sides. Those who were mercenary. Those who took advantage of wartime circumstances to advance themselves unscrupulously. We see that the Resistance often knew about these people but thought it in the best interest of their cause to use them rather than kill them. Politics makes strange bedfellows, often with unintended consequences.
Bent, Jorgen, and their comrades, the men taking outrageous risks and doing appalling things for the cause, are subject to the vicissitudes of their commanders and the delicate politics of occupier and occupied. Mads Mikkelsen underplays Jorgen a bit, I think. But Thure Lindhardt is fascinating to watch as Bent, a brave and intelligent young man who would normally have every opportunity for a comfortable and accomplished life, but who, instead, is a killer living dangerously in a world that is impossible for him to comprehend. I don't know how much of "Flame and Citron" has been fictionalized. Both men received honors from the Danish government and the US Congress posthumously. But this film has some interesting things to say about the politics of occupation and collaboration. In Danish and German with optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles. The only bonus feature on the IFC 2010 DVD is a trailer.
When I heard about this Danish movie, I was intrigued by its premise of resistance activities against the Nazis in WW II Denmark (a country that is also famous for its rescue of most of its Jewish population from the Nazis). Based on true events, "Flame and Citron" tells the story of two men, Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and Citron (Mads Mikkelsen who also impressed me in After the Wedding)who are part of the Copenhagen Resistance Movement against the Nazis. Their primary mission is to kill Danish collaborators and Nazis, be it man or woman, young or old. Their lives are fraught with risks and danger, and this makes it difficult for them to forge any long-lasting relationships. Flame is drawn to a mysterious woman Ketty (Stine Stengade) who claims to also work for the Resistance as a courier and who seems to know quite a bit about Flame. Citron faces domestic problems as he is unable to commit time nor be there when his family needs him. The film explores the moral ambiguities in Flame and Citron's work - yes, the Nazis are bad and the collaborators should be punished, but is murder justified, especially when one isn't absolutely certain of guilt (in the case of collaborators).
The bloody nature of their work takes its toll on both men and Flame has moments when he wonders about the morality of what he does - refusing to kill women, and balking from shooting a target who claims not to be a collaborator. It becomes quite apparent that things are not quite as they seem. The story is fast-paced, and there's plenty of action, but at times it does seem that this focus on action and complicated story arcs (double agents, competition between the different factions within the Resistance, etc) detracts from the actual development of the characters. The two leads are credibly portrayed by Thure Lindhardt (Flame) and Mads Mikkelsen (Citron). The cinematography captures the quiet beauty of the Danish landscape, which makes for a startling contrast to the violence portrayed throughout the movie. I'd recommend this to those who like WW II dramas, especially accounts of resistance movements. Also recommended is Army of Shadows - Criterion Collection, a 1969 movie which offers a grim portrayal of the French Resistance.
on September 5, 2015
I love my foreign films, this Danish film ranks up there with the best. This is a true story of 2 Danes, who, among Danish Nazis (never knew they were there) were, under orders executing Danish Collaborators. What is this about? Trust. In a time of War, trust no one. This film was enlightening and frightening. This was a chapter in history that I never knew and it is sad and amazing. The performances of the support cast...wow. Mads Mikkelsen as Citron is brooding and so very serious. My biggest kudos go to Thure Lindhardt as Flame. Not only did he nail this as he does every part he has ever done and which I recommend every movie he has ever done and they are, to name a few, Keep the Lights On, Angels And Demons, TV-The Borgias, Fast and Furious #6, The Brotherhood and Love In Thoughts. All magnificent because of Thule. Could I have a man-Crush on this magnificent actor? Absolutely, one of the worlds undiscovered treasures.
on September 30, 2015
I didn't know what to expect from this one. Because I'd seen the excellent Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal, I was curious about his other work. The premise for this was really intriguing. Not gonna lie, I love stories that are filmed beautifully, from the principal actors to the scenery the entire thing is gorgeously presented -- which makes it all the more haunting in how desperate and devastating this noir work is. Beauty, counterpointed by tragedy. It also had the added benefit of introducing me to a slice of history that doesn't get discussed in America, such as other countries outside of England, France and Germany who were affected by the Nazi regime. I love foreign films, so subtitles don't bother me, but if you're one of those people who can't be bothered if everything isn't Americanized for you, just don't. The beauty is lost on you, this film is perfect.
on December 8, 2012
For anyone with a brain cell this is a wonderfully written and acted movie. A very hard hitting topic with both the brutality of war and the desire to serve ones country captured in a very sincere way, a must see film.
I really had no preconceived notions going into the Danish film "Flame and Citron." Aside from my knowledge of co-star Mads Mikkelson (frequently seen in U.S. productions, but perhaps most famous stateside for playing the Bond villain in "Casino Royale") and a moderate awareness of the plot, I was a pretty blank slate. Any time you endeavor to produce a fact based epic, there will always be detractors claiming historical inaccuracies. It happens to the best, most well-regarded pictures as narrative films are not documentaries. So I make no claims to the precise balance of historical content versus dramatic license in this biopic based on Danish resistance fighters circa World War Two. I don't know enough to make such a claim valid. I will simply say that from a movie entertainment standpoint, "Flame and Citron" is a thoroughly fascinating, exciting, and riveting drama--one of the best films to catch me unawares in quite some time!
In Nazi occupied Denmark, there is a small cell of resistance fighters aligned with Allied forces. Perhaps the most notorious pairing are code-named "Flame" (Thure Lindhardt) and "Citron" (Mikkelson). Instructed and given assignments by their supervisor Winther, the two target only Danes who are collaborating with the Nazis. Lindhardt is the muscle and the more impassioned assassin while Mikkelson largely works in a supporting role. However, the dynamic of the resistance group starts to change. With a potential traitor in their midst, an enigmatic new love interest for Flame, and a peculiar shift in assignments to target actual Germans--something is amiss. But who to trust and to what purpose? The film becomes an increasingly frenzied game of cat-and-mouse in which it seems no one will emerge unscathed.
Both Mikkelson and especially Lindhardt provide absolutely riveting performances. Mikkelson's increasing estrangement from his family is powerfully depicted, but Lindhardt is particularly devastating as he starts to question every principle he once held absolute. The supporting roles are well developed with Stine Stengade (as the romantic foil) and Peter Mygind (as the questionable boss) really standing out as well. The film looks terrific--this is a seriously well constructed piece. The screenplay propels the action with believability and true emotional consequence. By the time "Flame and Citron" arrived at its conclusion, I was absolutely mesmerized by the sophistication, smarts, and commitment that went into making this a true epic with historical sweep. Unforgettable leads and a tremendously strong finale make this a personal favorite and a whole-hearted recommendation. KGHarris, 12/10