The Way Home from ‘A War’

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on February 11, 2016. It can also be found online here (or PDF). 

Something is revealing in Denmark; Hamlet would be proud. In this case, it is the third film from writer/director Tobias Lindholm (English title: A War, Danish: Krigen — Danish with English subtitles). This Academy Award-nominated Best Foreign Language Film opens in the United States on February 12 and stars Pilou Asbaek as Capt. Claus Pederson, a Danish officer, leading an infantry company on the Afghan front, and Tuva Novotny as Maria, Claus’s wife, leading her three children on the home front.

As with most foreign films, some anchoring is helpful as Denmark seems only to come up in America as a political football or potential nuclear target. For comparison, Denmark shares the rough physical size, population, and economic weight as Maryland, and has lost an eerily similar number of soldiers in Afghanistan (Denmark 43, Maryland 46). As a country that has not encountered intense combat since the Second World War, Denmark’s experience in Afghanistan has been brutal — the Danes have lost more soldiers there, relative to population, than any other fighting coalition country — topping even the United States and United Kingdom. For filmophiles, A War bears resemblance to the award-winning Australian movie Breaker Morant. For fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Asbaek is set to star in April’s upcoming sixth season. For fellow students of war, the core readership of War on the Rocks, there is much, much more.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

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