🇩🇰 RIDE UPON THE STORM 🇩🇰
(by Gina Meardon)
Ride Upon The Storm aka Herrens veje – 2 seasons 10×1 hour episodes per season. Danish with subtitles. Available on All4 Walter Presents UK, Netflix USA
“The story centres on a family of priests, Johannes, Elisabeth and sons Christian and August. Johannes is God-like to his sons – he gives, loves and punishes. His favouritism for August and his disappointment with Christian forces both into making desperate choices in order to either gain his love or break free from him.”
Lars Mikkelsen as Johannes
Ann Eleonora Jørgensen as Elisabeth
Simon Sears as Christian
Morten Hee Andersen as August
Fanny Louise Bernth as Emilie
Joen Højerslev as Svend
Camilla Lau as Amira
Yngrild Støen Grotmol as Liv
Joachim Fjelstrup as Mark
Writers: Adam Price (creator), Karina Dam, Poul Berg, Andreas Garfield
Directors: Kaspar Munk, Louise Friedberg, Søren Balle, May el-Toukhy
Original Music: Kristian Leth, Fridolin Nordsø
I must admit I put off watching this for a good while because the Walter Presents’ synopsis of: “Memorable, character-led Danish drama about an ancient family of priests,” didn’t exactly ‘float my boat’. I think it was the misleading word ‘ancient’ but luckily Davina persuaded me to give it a go, and I’m so glad she did, because the Danish sure know how to make a top-class ‘character-led’ drama.
The family of priests in question is actually generational and the current patriarch of the family is Johannes. He is powerfully portrayed by Lars Mikkelsen in a performance that won him the Danish Robert Best Actor Award 2 years running (in 2018/19) and an Emmy for Best Acting Performance in 2018.
This family is like no religious family I have ever seen. Johannes is a hard man to like, a heavy drinker, a womaniser, a force of nature. He demands so much from his family, especially his sons who love and fear him in equal measure. Elisabeth, his long-suffering wife, tries to keep the balance, turning a blind eye to his affairs until she is no longer able to do so.
Johannes is at loggerheads with the church authorities, he resists change, determined to do things ‘his way’. There is no denying his charisma, strength of faith and conviction. He is ‘right’ and his loyal staff (especially Sven) and parishioners love him dearly, even while his family struggle with his expectations of them.
Christian, the oldest son, was expected to follow the family calling until he inexplicably walked away from his final theology exams, an act that caused a deep rift with his father. In the early episodes it is clear Johannes has never forgiven him and can barely tolerate being in the same room. Trying to find his way Christian embarks on a business course until, yet again, he takes another wrong turn. He clearly has ‘issues’ and at first it is hard to like him but this is just the start of his journey…
August, on the other hand, is endearing, the ‘golden boy’, youngest son and apple of his father’s eye who has, indeed, followed his calling. However, he is married to Emilie, a doctor and atheist. A thorn in Johannes’s side. August is close to his brother and mother but he adores his father, wanting to please him and is never strong enough to stand up to him.
I am loathe to say much more about the characters or the multi-layered storylines. All the characters have stories and journeys that will have you both shouting in frustration and moved to tears. It is a drama about faith (multi-faith), choices, emotions, understanding, forgiveness and grief. A story about ‘being human’. There is heartbreak and despair, spiritual awakening, epiphany and revelation.
Ride Upon the Storm is a drama the like of which I have never seen before. It is not an action-crime-drama. There are no murders to keep you glued to your seat. But I have never felt so exhausted watching a drama, where 2 episodes a night were plenty to digest and understand the emotions I had just experienced.
That Johannes has deep compassion, love and understanding is clear in the time and devotion he gives to people who need him – with the notable exception of his own family, the ones who actually need him the most.
I rarely shed tears watching fiction but Adam Price’s masterpiece had me blubbing more than once. Even the opening music and credits are sublime with some truly memorable, stunning imagery.
Be aware there is a liberal amount of nudity and scenes of a sexual nature throughout, but this is a Danish production and even clergy have sex lives!
Ride Upon The Storm is a must watch and a ’10’ from me.
Best Television Series (TV Prisen) 2018
Best Television Series (Robert) 2018
Best Television Series (Robert) 2019
Best Actor (Robert) 2018 and 2019 – Lars Mikkelsen
Best Actress (Robert) 2018 and 2019 – Ann Eleonora Jorgensen
Best Performance by an Actor (Emmy) 2018 – Lars Mikkelsen
Walter Presents Official Trailer Season 1:
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