Into the Darkness is available to rent or buy from March 5th
Anders Refn’s sweeping tale of family life in Denmark as the Nazis swept into the country is a rather odd beast of a movie. With a runtime of 156 minutes, covering multiple years, there is no denying Into the Darkness is epic in construction or that it is lovingly crafted. But while epic, beautiful and engaging, y also feels somewhat hollow in emotion and depth. It is possible this comes from a story that feels too far-reaching for the runtime, and this flaw points to a film that would have ultimately worked better in a TV serial format. Added to this perplexing structure, the abruptness of the conclusion leaves the audience cold and confused, as the narrative complexity suddenly stops with little warning.
Karl (Jesper Christensen) is a factory owner in a quiet corner of Denmark; the war a distant but worrisome event in his eyes as he watches the German Reich march across Europe. However, the War is about to invade Denmark and his secure family life as his 25th wedding anniversary celebrations with his wife, Eva (Bodil Jørgensen), are disrupted by german planes dropping fliers. As the Nazis sweep into town, promising prosperity, security and partnership, Karl and Eva’s family is torn in two, their eldest son Aksel (Mads Reuther) committing himself to the anti-Nazi underground fight while Karl’s son from his first marriage (Gustav Dyekjær Giese) joins the Danish army to fight side by side with the German troops. Meanwhile, the couple’s youngest daughter Helene (Sara Viktoria Bjerregaard), is swept off her feet by a German U-boat officer.
Offering us a Danish take on the exquisite german mini-series Generation War, Into the Darkness ultimately gets lost within the broad narrative canvas it creates, its runtime too short for the historical discussions it raises while also being too long for the average viewer. However, that does not mean Into the Darkness doesn’t hold moments of brilliance, even if it frustratingly never achieves all that sets out to achieve.