Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flame And Citron (2008)

Flame And CitronIn 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.

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.

Buy Flame And Citron (2008) Now

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.

Read Best Reviews of Flame And Citron (2008) Here

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

Want Flame And Citron (2008) Discount?

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.

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