IDA JESSEN’S NOVEL IS DENMARK’S BID FOR THE ACADEMY AWARD’S BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Ida Jessen’s novel The Promised Land is set in 1755, when the impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen sets out to conquer the harsh, uninhabitable Danish heath with a seemingly impossible goal; to build a colony in the name of the King. In exchange, he’ll receive a desperately desired Royal name for himself. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, arrogantly believes this land belongs to him. When de Schinkel learns that the maid Ann Barbara and her serve husband have escaped for refuge with Kahlen, the privileged and spiteful ruler swears revenge, doing everything in his power to drive the captain away. Kahlen will not be intimated and takes up the unequal battle – not only risking his life, but also the family of outsiders that has formed around him.
The screen adaptation is Denmark’s bid for The Academy Award’s Best International Film and the acclaimed blockbuster by Nikolaj Arcel and Zentropa was one of the big winners at this year’s Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival. The Promised Land won a total of three awards in the heaviest categories: Best International Film, photographer Rasmus Videbæk won the award for Best Photographer and the award for Best Actor went to Mads Mikkelsen for his leading role as Ludvig Kahlen.
Mads Mikkelsen smolders magnificently in Nikolaj Arcel’s gripping historical epic. The Danish director and star of the Oscar-nominated A ROYAL AFFAIR reteam in this Nordic Western about a low-born military man determined to cultivate the wild Jutland heath against daunting odds.
While THE PROMISED LAND sounds more subdued than the original Danish title, BASTARDEN (THE BASTARD), there’s nothing tame or prosaic about Nikolaj Arcel’s brawny historical drama. Reuniting the director with Mads Mikkelsen after their compelling 2012 collaboration, A ROYAL AFFAIR, the new film shows once again that period pieces can be vigorous, powerful and emotionally stirring, this one enriched by themes of class, racism, sexual abuse, labor exploitation and chosen families. It’s a handsome production that displays all the virtues of assured old-fashioned storytelling without a trace of stodge.
– The Hollywood Reporter
High-flown strings, beautiful landscape shots in wide format and a star-studded cast with Mads Mikkelsen in the lead: It’s clear that we are dealing with Danish drama in international blockbuster format.(…) Fortunately, THE PROMISED LAND, Denmark’s bid for the Oscar category Best International Film, can easily carry its high ambitions.
THE PROMISED LAND, which is Denmark’s Oscar candidate, is a film so beautiful that several scenes seem like paintings, where dust dances in the light from the windows and the heath glows both brown and golden. And even with a Danish actor who has gone on to become a big international star, and excellent performances in all other roles. But most important of all are the story’s underlying questions, which seem to be taken directly from the Bible, which screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen – fortunately – has such a hard time keeping away from: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but must pay with his soul? (…) It is truly an achievement.
THE PROMISED LAND is an intoxicating epic that brings our wild past to life. Mads Mikkelsen plays the tamer of the heath. A Danish film in absolute master class.
– POV International, Bo Green Jensen
Nikolaj Arcel returns to Denmark with the biggest achievement of his career so far. THE PROMISED LAND is an impressive visual narrative that fulfills all the director’s blockbuster ambitions.