Into the Darkness – Warrant for Frantz

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April 9th, 1940. The Skov family’s luxorious beach front home is bathed in warm dawn light. A wedding anniversary party is under preparation, when a large Henkel 111 bomber roars past overhead, diving towards them and leaving behind it a cloud of green leaflets – declaring that Denmark has been occuipied by Germany. Karl, a 60-year old owner of the electromechanics factory Elektrona and a member of the Danish Industry Council , is married to Eva (55). Their children are: Aksel (22) a political sciencer major, Knud (20) a music conservatory student, Helene (17) a high-schooler, and Valdemar (15) who’s in middle school. Also part of the family is Michael (26), the result of Karl’s youthful debauchery, though he has never lived with the family. He is an officer in the military and recently returned to Denmark from the winter war in Finland, where he volunteered in the Swedish military fighting there. He is decorated with the Finnish medal of gratitude and is a raging anti-communist. Also living in the villa is the cook, Annelise Sørensen (50). When she was hired by the Skov family, she was given permission to have her son, Svend, stay with her in teh basement quarters. Svend and the four years younger Aksel became inseparable friends. He is fervent communist who has volunteered in the Spanish Civil War and has just returned home after spending two years at the party school in Moscow. The patriarch, Karl, represents the scrupulousness of the upper class, but also for its somewhat naive, and somewhat disingenuous decency. He hands over a German-Jewish refugee couple – old friends of the family – to the authorities in the belief that they will not be deported to Germany. His increasing cooperation with the German occupier is something, which by his own accounts, is something he is forced to do to secure the family’s future, and the survival of his firm. Naively, he is certain that history will distinguish between his good intentions and their morally horrifying consequences. His daughter, Helene, finds herself in a similar dilemma, when she falls for a German u-boat captain and is thereby torn between feelings of love on the one hand and her budding hatreds for the Nazis on the other. In the boathouse by the villa, the cook’s son, Svend, is gunned down by a zealous Danish police officer eagerly hunting down communists. Aksel witnesses this in horror. When Hitler attacks the Soviet Union in 1941, Michael sees his chance to get revenge on the communists and joins the Danish Free Corp as a volunteer. On Christmas Eve of that year, he shows up unannounced at the villa in his SS uniform, his arms laden with gifts. A violent altercation ensues between Aksel and Michael and for hte first time, Karl witnesses the deep fissures splitting his family apart. Michael’s experience on the Eastern front leave him a broken man. He returns to Denmark with severe frostbite, one of the last to escape the horrors of Stalingrad alive. Aksel becomes active in the resistance through an encountner with Svend’s friend, the beautiful communist messenger Liva, who he falls in love with. The film ends with Aksel’s participation in one of the first serious acts of sabotage, during which he only barely avoids being blown to smithereens abnd escaping the Danish police. This leads to a dramatic clash between Karl and Aksel. Consequently Aksel leaves the villa and to “go underground” as a member of the illegal Danish resistance movement. All the main characters’ find themselves having to contend with the consequences of the choices they’ve made. They are all relatable and sympathetic – ordinary people who, because of the occupation, find themselvwes pushed out of their comfort zones.