My birthday (September 17) is big news, but four days before, September 13, MHz Networks makes small-screen history when they premiere 1864 on its streaming service MHz Choice. This Danish drama of love in the time of war, reaches across eras to connect individual lives, confront a nation’s trauma, and examine the events of an epic war that formed the self-image of Denmark. Internationally renowned “Danish New Wave” director Ole Bornedal, read the letters of the soldiers to create a factual fairy tale.
Shot as a feature film and available as eight episodes, this sweeping drama reflects Borndal’s renowned mix of stylistic experimentation with engrossing stories, as seen in his thriller Nattevagten (1994), which screened at the Cannes, Toronto and
Bornedal has gathered the top acting talent of the current golden era of Denmark’s film and television, such as Sidse Babett Knudson, seen in the hit television series Borgen and Westworld, who delivers an unforgettable performance alongside her Borgen costar Pilou Asbæk, also known for Game of Thrones and The Borgias.
A TALE IN TWO ERAS
Following victories over the Prussian Empire in the war of 1848-51, Denmark is emboldened and begins scheming to annex Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom. Armed with nationalist furor, the leader of the Parliament dismisses the country’s European treaties and throws Denmark into war with Prussia. Amid escalating conflict, two peasant brothers grow up and fall in love, both with the same well-read and beautiful woman. When the war erupts, these two young men volunteer for service, setting the stage for a sweeping drama.
Meanwhile, in 2014, a young girl suffers the loss of her brother to the war in Afghanistan. Depressed and despairing, she takes a position as aide to an aging Baron, who happens to reside in the same countryside inhabited by the brothers in 1864. Here, she discovers a diary and encounters the extraordinary love triangle. She becomes an eyewitness to history, powerfully connected to the brothers—and thousands of Danish soldiers—who fought one of the nation’s bloodiest battles, a slaughterhouse that changed Denmark forever.