Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Salvation (4 Stars)

A Danish western? Is there such a thing? I don't know if any westerns have been made in Denmark before this, but if not "The Salvation" is a worthy film to kickstart the genre. It's slow and intense, coiled like a rattlesnake, before erupting into scenes of savage violence.

After Denmark lost a war to Germany (actually a coalition of Austria and Prussia) in 1864 the disillusioned Danish soldier Jon emigrates to America. After seven years of living alone, establishing a small homestead, Jon invites his wife and son to join him. They are both fridged on the stagecoach journey from the train station to Black Creek, the town nearest to Jon's homestead. After his wife is raped by two drunken cowboys they are murdered and thrown onto the road. Jon catches up with the stagecoach and takes revenge by shooting the men.

One of the men that Jon shoots is the brother of the gangster Delarue who demands protection money from the leaders of Black Creek. It's a strange little town. The town's undertaker is the mayor, and the town's priest is the sheriff. They're all terrified of Delarue and accept his demands. In retaliation for the death of his brother Delarue executes three of the townspeople and doubles the protection money until the killer is found.

Mads Mikkelsen is dark and broody in all of his films, so he was the ideal choice to play the lead role. I wouldn't say he's a good actor, he's very one-sided in his roles, but he's good at what he does. Also notable are Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Delarue, Jonathan Pryce as the undertaker and Eva Green as the mute wife of Delarue's brother. The film reproduces the style and atmosphere of spaghetti westerns without actually being a spaghetti western.

P. S. No, I don't know what the film's title has to do with the film.

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