DVD Flame And Citron
A record-breaking box office hit and the most expensive film ever made in Denmark, Flame And Citron has a lot to live up to. For the film’s director, it was also the fulfilment of a childhood obsession with the real life resistance fighters on whom the main protagonists are based.
1944 Denmark is occupied by Nazi Germany, but the Holger Danske resistance group are fighting back. Bent, codename ‘Flame’, and Jorgen, codename ‘Citron’, are two of its most active members and skilled assassins of Danish Nazi collaborators. At first, their mission seems simple. They are given names and photos, and they do not ask too many questions, but it soon becomes clear that they are being used to further the individual interests of the resistance hierarchy. When Bent is asked to liquidate the woman he loves, they decide to go it alone.
Unfortunately, when they start to loose faith in the movement, they start to make mistakes and find it hard to find their own direction. As they receive yet more conflicting information, it begins to take an emotional toll. The only people they can trust are each other…
Flame And Citron is a beautifully crafted film – one of the most notable shots being the reflection of newsreel on Bent’s eyeball. He is constantly reliving the atrocities of the Nazis arrival in Copenhagen. This is what keeps him going and allows him to kill his victims. Towards the start of the film, a shot of the countryside shows dawn breaking, the mist hanging low, and it looks peaceful and perfect. At the end of the film, we return to the fields and can see in daylight that they are covered in freshly dug graves, creating symmetry.
Muted colours are favoured throughout the film, apart from the notable red of Bent’s hair and the blue of the video shop where Jorgen found the resistance. The use of colour acts as a defining feature between the resistance and the Nazis. Briefly, after the uprising, the scenes become brighter. Other than this, shots are often dark, making Bent and Jorgen appear isolated and cut off from a clear source of knowledge – and everything appears confused. The car scenes reinforce this. Viewed through the windscreen, they show the protagonists as enclosed and ultimately trapped.
Close up camera work is used to make the viewer feel as if they a part of the intimate conversations between the resistance members, and allow a sense of eavesdropping on history. A lot can be read from the actors’ faces alone, and there are frequent sections with limited dialogue. At other points, the musical score takes over the dialogue, such as when Jorgen is at the beach in the car with his wife for his daughter’s birthday. Music fills the silence that has grown between them. Unheard, well-trodden arguments are palpable in the air. Sound is also used as a bridge between scenes, and the grind of a steam train moves the action from the car to Stockholm train station while connoting that, as partners, Jorgen and his wife are moving on.
The viewer is drawn into the emotional play of the film.
The viewer is drawn into the emotional play of the film. The laughter of Germans sits uneasily, as the crowding of the shots in the café, where the resistance meets, allows the viewer to experience a sense of the oppression at the time. Everything feels packed in and, consequently, nowhere feels safe; this adds to the overall feeling of tension and builds drama. It becomes almost claustrophobic and could at anytime explode into violence.
A light-hearted moment comes with a cine film style home movie of Bent at home with his landlords and their dog. It allows the viewer to see another side to him, and reminds them that he a just a young man, barely more than a boy, whose life could have been extremely different in other circumstances.
A voiceover holds the film together; it is a letter to a loved one delivered by Bent, yet, even within this, there are questions of loyalty. The tone moves from soft and sorrowful, “Do you remember when they arrived?” to “Where were you when the uprising started?” which is said in a far more accusatory tone, reflecting the change in their relationship. The dialogue is repeated at the end of the film, again offering symmetry in a world that seems unable to offer balance or fairness.
The political nature of the film, and its subject matter of the resistance, is one of the many things that make it stand out among other World War II films. It modernises the genre and, given the current political climate, it seems particularly appropriate.
Not only is Flame And Citron well shot, it tells a story that would otherwise have been lost. Madsen’s love of the characters is clear and easily understood – they are complex people trying to what is right in a complicated political climate, in which it is impossible to know who to trust. You cannot help but love them for living, for trying to change things, and for being human enough to make mistakes. Ultimately, this is what makes them unforgettable heroes during one of the most tumultuous periods of European history.
The hillbilly horror is a well-trodden path. From
the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Deliverance, the…
Film: Mad Detective Release date: 3rd November 2008
Certificate: 18 Running time: 89 mins Director: John…
Film: Bedevilled Release date: 28th February 2011
Certificate: 18 Running time: 115 mins Director:…