‘The Promised Land’: A powerful film about morality

‘The Promised Land’: A powerful film about morality
Image: Supplied by Rialto

Based on the book The Captain and Ann Barbara by Danish novelist Ida Jessen, this historical biography is a Danish-German-Swedish co-production which explores a man’s extreme determination and resilience to gain acceptance into noble society.

Set in Denmark 1755, Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen) has retired after serving 25 years in the German army. He was a captain despite his lower class and his plan to gain recognition and honour by building a settlement on a barren heath is put into action.

However, his antagonist is the wealthy and utterly evil estate owner Frederik De Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg), whose barbaric and unlawful methods of dealing with problematic staff redefine the word ‘noble’.

Kahlen is told that better men have previously attempted to work the land and he retaliates stating, “God put men on Earth to create civilizations.”

Will he against all odds be the first to cultivate the land and have the first settlers inhabit this Danish heath? If these settlers arrive this will deflate Schinkel’s power and control – will he accept this or put an evil plan into motion to eradicate Kahlen once and for all?

The Promised Land is masterfully produced and beautifully filmed, a sweeping tale of one man’s attempts to overcome the inhumane injustices and unlawfulness of a psychotic lunatic, who was inconceivably supported by several followers – incredibly men of nobility.

Mads Mikkelsen delivers a career high performance playing the role flawlessly and to perfection, as the man who puts his life at risk attempting to achieve his lifelong dream. The standout is Simon Bennebjerg whose depiction of the evil and suffering he dispenses upon his staff is realistically shattering – audiences will love to hate this unscrupulous man owing to Bennebjerg’s incredible, perhaps ‘slightly over the top’, characterization.

Meticulous detail in each scene authentically restores this bygone era and every penny of what must have been an outlandish budget is evident on screen. Audiences will seemingly be transported back to the 18th Century and experience the day-to-day life – the prejudices and horrendous violence on account of class differences.

Emotions will be stirred notably in the unbearable heart-wrenching scenes that may leave sensitive audience members feeling somewhat numb and angst ridden. The question will arise – how can humans treat other humans with such contempt? Do the humble have a higher moral set than the noble?

Ultimately this is a very powerful movie, one which attempts to inspire people to stick to their morals and in their sense of what is right.

★★★★½

In Cinemas now

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