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Pelle the Conqueror

Film Movement // PG-13 // May 30, 2017
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted June 10, 2017 | E-mail the Author


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Pelle the Conquerer Blu-ray Review


Pelle the Conqueror is a an
adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Martin Andersen Nexo. The
bestselling novel is highly regarded as one of the most important works
of Danish literature. Produced by Per Holst (style="font-style: italic;">Evil
, style="font-style: italic;">The Element of Crime), style="font-style: italic;">Pelle the Conqueror won several
prestigious awards including Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy
Awards and the Palme d'Or (Best Picture) at the Cannes Film Festival.



Pelle (Pelle Hvenegaard) and his father Lassefar (Max von Sydow) come
to Denmark by boat on a journey to immigrate to a new land with the
promise of there being better jobs, better work environments, and more
hope for their future. Instead, both Lassefar and Pelle come to find
abysmal living conditions and bad characters that surround them.



Pelle and Lassefar face the bitterness of life's disappointments when
they find there are no better jobs or working conditions in their new
homeland. What they find instead is just more turmoil and pain. While
living under their new barren household, more a barn than proper home,
Pelle and Lassefar struggle to live.



Max Von Sydow, an Ingmar Bergman favorite and one of the greatest
actors in cinema history, was nominated for Best Actor at Academy
Awards. Sydow is always in fine form and this is another example of his
excellence as an actor. Yet, amidst the ensemble of characters, his
performance sometimes felt overshadowed without as much screen-time in
the film.



Pelle the Conqueror has
impressive production design by Anna Asp (style="font-style: italic;">Autumn Sonata). The production
elements are well realized with authenticity. The cinematography by
Jorgen Persson (Les Miserables,
The House of the Spirits) has
an interesting use of color which reflects the grim reality of the
character's living situations while showcasing the countryside. The
music by Stefan Nilsson (As It Is In
Heaven
, Deliver Us From Evil)
is melancholy and fitting for the story.



The screenplay was written by Bille August, Per Olov Enquist, and
Bjarne Reuter. The film is directed by Bille August (style="font-style: italic;">Les Miserables). Though the film
was honored with many awards, I felt a feeling of disconnect from my
experience with the film. Though some of the production aspects are
commendable, the film has a coldness to it than is bitter.



Pelle the Conqueror is harsh,
cold, and cynical throughout. It makes for an unpleasant experience
with the story unfolding with one harsh circumstance and event after
another happening to these characters. The unsentimental and cold
filmmaking approach was jarring. Pelle
the Conqueror
is a film which suggests that life is full of more
disappointment than hope: which is an outlook I can't and won't agree
with.



The Blu-ray:


Video:




Pelle the Conqueror arrives on
Blu-ray with a 1080p high definition presentation in the original
1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. The film received a 2K
restoration effort. The release has impressive picture-quality with a
strong restoration effort. The release has crisp colors and natural
film grain.



Audio:



The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio the original 2.0 stereo
(preserving the original sound design). Dialogue is crisp and easy to
understand. The music is clear and has good audio fidelity.



In Danish and Swedish with English subtitles.


Extras:




This release includes a booklet featuring an essay written by Terrence
Rafferty.



New Audio Commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie is provided.



Final Thoughts:



Pelle the Conqueror won
numerous awards and received much acclaim but the film's cold and
unsentimental approach (along with a cynical worldview) make for an
unpleasing experience.



Skip It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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