Having defeated them in 1851, the Danish government believed they could take the Prussians on again in the year that titles this. It was about Slesvig-Holstein, a province which both countries felt belonged to them – well, *we* wanted it, rather(a document from the Middle Ages declared that the two would never be split - following old texts verbatim can go horribly wrong), they didn't care, albeit Bismarck did see it as a way to unite Germany, it having been in disarray ever since the collapse of the Roman Empire – in fact, their late arrival to the table of imperialism was part of their bid to increase their lebensraum, through impassioned speeches, deceitful promises of peace. Nationalism went to everyone's heads, and, spoiler alert, it was our greatest loss, and last time we fought to conquer land, it humbled us greatly to lose as much as we did. 5000 dead, at least as many handicapped. 2/5ths of Denmark, and 1 million citizens(leaving us with 1,7), lost to the victors. It is an important part of our history, that of Scandinavia, and to an extent, that of Europe. I urge you to read about it. Because you sure won't find out very much about it here.
Instead, we have this complex, confusing situation(referred, both ironically and truthfully, as "a mere three people understand. One is dead. Another is insane. The third is me
and I've forgotten.") boiled down to "Heiberg the theatre's temptress manipulated Monrad the Council President into a lost cause that the applauding Copenhagen upper class never saw as anything but a fiction that would prove our superiority". That is one of the two notes this knows how to play. The other is "war is awful", which, at least, is a message that is always worthwhile to spread. These are both played on repeat. Over and over. Well, you have to fill those 8 hours with *something*.
It's baffling that this is all it can come up with, since it's so eager to throw dozens of characters at us, to the point where we forget who, what, where, and most of all, *why* anyone in this is. At least about a third of them are proved to have lived back then, so, hey, they did crack open a book(a lot of the time, proving this seems to be the reason they're put before us
certainly, replacing them with text describing what happened here, or showing the physical reality it caused or affected would have been greatly appreciated). Broadly drawn, these all serve as archetypes(at least we do get some welcome ones, such as the several strong women, a staple around here
off the screen, too) and mouthpieces. Oh, but if only they had something to say
! Why this didn't opt for sticking with the handful of regulars is beyond me.
When they do not, they lose our patience, and evidently in a number of cases, our viewership. And then, they show us the truth of the old adage, 'be careful what you wish for'. When will the love triangle die? Can it be soon? Few stories require them, and in cases like this, they are a detriment. Once we realize that's where our two underdog brothers(the tough one and the smart, sensitive one
who are so one-note that they, early on, literally point this out to each other) and the higher-but-only-so-high-class girl are headed, our interest plummets faster than this leaps 12 years, with a thud and a groan. It only gets more banal from there, folks. Do not get me started on the numerous sudden, cringe-inducing lapses in the otherwise so carefully built and maintained realism. The first person to bring up the fantasy aspect gets smacked.
I wanted to love this. So, so badly. I tsk-ed those who cried foul at even the start of this. Now, I shudder to think about that, and realize just how quickly some can tell a stinker when they see one. It didn't have to be this way. I swear, sneak in a skilled editor(one who lives by "you're not doing it right if there isn't blood on the floor", "kill your darlings", "less is more"), bring it down to half the length if that, I mean, if you remove the repetition and tedium alone, you're well on your way
there is quality here! There'd better be, at this price! And there is! This is as beautifully photographed, immaculately staged, authentically detailed in props, sets and costumes, expertly cut and phenomenally acted as the best international standards strive for. And it deserves to be freed from the muck it's buried in.
The political intrigue, the social realism, the credible depiction of life back then, the interpersonal relationships, some of it is already here, some of it could be, had the resources been properly applied. Why Inge's obnoxious, overwrought narration, spelling out what we're looking at? Whose bright idea was the present day framing device? You know, the one that starts by calling every youth in the audience an inattentive, entitled idiot. Yes, the one that adds nothing other than frustration, that makes no sense on an even basic level(if everything we're watching is being read from this one woman's letters
what about the countless events she not only doesn't witness, but would never be accurately, even honestly, recounted to her?). Whoever recuts Dinesen's scenes into the badass action-thriller they're clearly made for should be awarded a medal.
All 8 episodes run one hour each, not counting commercials or credits. There is a lot of brutal, violent, disturbing content, sexuality and nudity in this. I'm not sure who is more to blame for the wails of 'what about the children'
those who chose to air it 8 in the evening or anyone tuning into something depicting the bloody battle with the kids right there beside them. I recommend this to anyone compelled to watch train crashes, and those who enjoy mentally rearranging what they watch. 5/10