In recent years, Scandinavian film has become a global cultural staple. Morten Egholm teaches Scandinavian cinema at DIS and he’s chosen five films to share with you, representing the Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. If you’re looking for a movie marathon, checkout Morten’s Scandinavian must-sees!
Denmark: The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt stars the most famous Scandinavian actor in these years, Mads Mikkelsen, and it has become a kind of modern classic on the international film scene. For the last couple of years, it has – as the only Scandinavian film – permanently appeared on IMDB’s top 100 of best films ever. The film is a strong psychological and thought provoking drama about a kindergarten teacher wrongly accused for sexual abuse. Vinterberg made the film as a kind of comment to his own famous Dogma film from 1998, The Celebration, but was also inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s satirical fairy tale about the negative impact of gossip in small communities, It’s perfectly True.
Finland: The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki is the Nordic cinematic minimalist par excellence. If you liked the style and humor in Rams, but at the same is longing for a story that takes up a more burning political issue you should definitely watch The Other Side of Hope (2017). With the story of a Syrian refugee who tries to get help in a reserved, cold modern Finland, the film is – in its own peculiar, deadpan humoristic way – giving us a truly humanistic comment to the refugee crisis Europe experienced in 2015.
Iceland: Rams (Grímur Hákonarson, 2015)
A deadly virus is spreading on Iceland – among rams! Two unmarried brothers, who haven’t talked to each other for 30 years, suddenly have to stand together to save what they love the most in this world: their rams. If you are into subtle, dark, and extremely deadpan Nordic humor, you will surely enjoy this Icelandic prizewinning comedy-drama from 2015. Prepare for an ending no one had seen coming!
Norway: Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
Joachim Trier is perhaps the most celebrated Norwegian film director ever. With his newest feature, he has tried to stray away from the ‘normal.’ Thelma (2017) is a thriller/horror like story about a young girl struggling with having supernatural powers, a strict religious family background, and a crush on one of the other female students at Oslo University where she has just started. The film can best be described as an encounter between the Norwegian teen drama web series Shame (2015-17) and Brian de Palma’s horror classic Carrie (1976).
Sweden: Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, 2014)
Ruben Östlund is probably the most debated and recognized Scandinavian director in these years. With prize winning films like Play (2011) and The Square (2017) he has developed his own observational, almost anthropological style to take the temperature on what it means to be a human being in the modern Western world. In Force Majeure (2014) he is giving us a complex, humoristic, and also sometimes painful portrait of a Swedish nuclear family experiencing a slow building, but serious, crisis during a ski vacation in The French Alps.
Morten Egholm has a PhD in film history and a master’s in Scandinavian Literature, Film, and Media Studies from University of Copenhagen. He has been teaching at DIS since spring 2008, mainly film classes, but also a couple of literature classes. He lives in the ‘Fuglebakkekvarter’ in Frederiksberg with his family and a huge collection of books, DVDs, and Blu-rays (oh yes, those formats still exist!). His main interests are watching (and analyzing) film and T.V. shows (old and new), reading classical European and contemporary American literature, and playing FIFA on PlayStation with his two sons.