Focus on Krigen (A War)

Krigen (A War)

"Take care of each other," says the Danish soldier over Skype as he talks to his brothers in arms from the hospital bed in England that he has been transferred to. His pals are stationed in Afghanistan, in the Adam Kala region, south of Kabul. It was precisely to save his own life, and the lives of the others, that company commander Claus M Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) made a drastic decision to foil an attack by the Taliban during a routine patrol. Without having gained any kind of visual confirmation of it (called PID, or positive identification, in military jargon), Pedersen ordered the bombing of zone 6, which was considered a civilian target.

With A War [+], selected in Orizzonti at the Venice Film Festival, Tobias Lindholm has made his third feature film. Besides his previous titles, R [+] and A Hijacking [+], Lindholm was widely acclaimed for the screenplays of the two latest films by Thomas Vinterberg, Submarino [+] (2010) and The Hunt [+] (2012), which was nominated for the Oscars, and he also wrote the script for Vinterberg's next title, The Commune [+], which is slated to be released in 2016. His impressive talent for analysing human emotions and the reactions to situations that put people under strong psychological pressure is once again clear to see in A War. Commander Pedersen is torn between complying with military regulations, his responsibility to his men and the Afghan civilians, and his longing to return home to his wife (Tuva Novotny) and three children.

For the first 70 minutes, the movie switches between scenes filmed on the battlefield and those centred on the commander's family in Denmark. When the soldier is accused of having been responsible for the death of 11 civilians, the setting shifts permanently to his homeland, where his trial gets under way a few months later. Now it's all about defending himself and protecting his family. But did Claus really act with the best intentions, or has the utter madness of that war made him lose his mind, as suggested by his best friend and colleague, Najib?

Using harsh realism, Lindholm directs real-life soldiers and Afghan refugees, who rub shoulders with excellent professional actors such as Asbæk and Novotny. A War was produced by René Ezra and Tomas Radoor for Nordisk Film Production A/S with backing from the Danish Film Institute, in cooperation with DR, the Nordisk Film & TV Fond and Studiocanal. Its domestic release is planned for 10 September, courtesy of Nordisk Film Distribution A/S.

By Camillo De Marco