🇩🇰 THE BOMBARDMENT 🇩🇰
The Bombardment (2021) is a Danish historical war drama feature film available on Netflix internationally. 1 hour 47 minutes long. Rated 15 U.K. In Danish, English and German with subtitles.
“The fates of several Copenhagen residents collide when a WWII bombing mission accidentally targets a school full of children.” IMDb
Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen as Henry
Ester Birch as Rigmor
Ella Josephine Lund Nilsson as Eva
Malena Lucia Lodahl as Greta
Fanny Leander Bornedal as Teresa
Alex Høgh Andersen as Fredrik
Alban Lendorf as Peter
James Tarpey as Reggie
Casper Kjær Jensen as Svend Nielsen
Danica Curcic as Rigmor’s Mother
Mads Riisom as Rigmor’s Father
Writer: Ole Bornedal
Director: Ole Bornedal
Composers: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders, Ceiri Torjussen
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank Johannessen
Editor: Anders Villadsen
Costume Designers: Sofie Rage Larsen, Manon Rasmussen
Makeup Designer: Elisabeth Bukkehave
Special Effects Supervisor: Martin Oberlander
Visual Effects: Mikael Windelin, Nikolas d’Andrade, Seb Caudron
⚠️ This review contains spoilers ⚠️
I loved the Danish miniseries 1864 which was also written and directed by Ole Bornedal. Although, in truth, it took me a while to come to watch The Bombardment. It was a case of being in the right frame of mind to watch a film that I knew would have a tragic outcome.
The Bombardment opens in a way that surprised me. It is not only shocking and unexpected but also reflective of what will happen later — daily lives interrupted by the tragedy of war. This event stays with young Henry who can no longer talk as a result, and it is he who we follow to Copenhagen and another terrible tragic event but one on a larger scale. Importantly, however, all these lives lost matter, from the first to the last.
The cast in this film is excellent and the material they have to work with really helps that. The youngest cast members are all very good, especially considering the weight of the roles they play. Alex Høgh Andersen and Fanny Leander Bornedal have great onscreen chemistry. The whole supporting cast is solid.
Going back to the characters what is so well done and effectively in The Bombardment are the different perspectives it uses from the RAF crews to the young HIPO Corps member, to the resistance “human shields”, the children, their parents, the young sister and other nuns. We get to know some better than others but this film manages to make us care about them.
The young nun, Teresa, is an interesting character to follow throughout this film. As with 1864, spirituality and beliefs are woven throughout this story. She continually tries to find ways to make God speak to her but no matter what extremes she goes to will she ever get an answer? It has God “dropped his pencil?” as she tells the children.
Just as with this belief in God the film also refers to fairytales (this is no fairy tale though) with poisoned buns and then the combination with religious ritual in the washing of the buns as an antidote.
The Bombardment’s direction and cinematography are very effective in building tension, immediacy and connections with what and who is in the frame. The way that scenes such as the take-off, journey and devastating crash of the allied aircraft are filmed is excellent. The actual initial explosion upon impact upon the school and later the subsequent bombs exploding are recreated with special and visual effects and the sound is exceptional. (This was an aspect of 1864 that was also incredibly well done). Likewise, the way the rubble going down to the basement of the school is formed, the lighting and the way the camera is used are all very effective.
Visually this film is often beautiful even during the devastation and tragedy.
The costuming is excellent and the makeup exceptional. That image of the little girl with her face whitened with plaster from the blast is haunting and I can see exactly why it was used in promotional material.
I loved the visual imagery combined with music in this, especially the mechanical drumming, thrumming sounds as the aircraft flew. This was extremely effective in creating both atmosphere and tension.
One part of The Bombardment had me thinking long and hard and that was the moment when the young nun decides to go into the water to certain death, bringing the debris down upon her and her potential rescuer. Upon further thought, however, I think her reasons are very clear from what we have seen of her before and the increasingly tragic conversation she has had with the trapped Rigmor. It is the appearance of Fredrik and her release that triggers that decision to leave rather than escape back to the world above.
The part when Henry is forced by circumstance to speak again for a vital task is captivating. Especially as we see the parents of the girls waiting in desperation for news of them.
There is a decent amount of the film used to establish characters and context ensuring that we do care about these people. It is a tragic accident that causes this terrible heartbreaking event. It’s also a potluck as to who survived and who didn’t. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time started the film and is echoed through most of the final act.
That people who have been good, those who have been bad, the innocent and the guilty can all end up the same due to a tragic accident and twists of fate is very telling.
I found this a very emotional watch and equally thought-provoking. It asks some very big, fundamental questions! One of the things that it brought to mind was how it pulls off the mask of that terrible phrase “collateral damage” to reveal the truth of what that obfuscation means in reality… real living individuals. These children and adults are not “collateral damage”.
The long, long run home at the end (which reminded me a little of The Worst Person in the World) was terrific and really emotional. So strange on such a day that was so tragic to end with a little girl, her face unnaturally whitened eating her porridge. The final captions of the long list of those who died in the school are devastating.
Awards: 2 Wins 13 Nominations
Danish Film Awards (Robert, 2022) ~ Best Make-up ~ Elisabeth Bukkehave; Best Visual Effects ~ Mikael Windelin, Nikolas d’Andrade, Seb Caudron
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