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Flame and Citron (English Subtitled) 2009

NR CC

An action-packed spy thriller about two heroic assassins who go undercover to kill Nazis in an attempt to take justice into their own hands. Foreign language movie with English Sub-titles.

Starring:
Thure Lindhardt, Mads Mikkelsen
Runtime:
2 hours, 10 minutes

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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: Blu-ray
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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