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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Last time I reviewed a danish production, I got spit out and bit in the
tail for stepping on danish toes. Drømmen was supposedly Arden Oplev's
masterpiece but however I tried, I didn't get it. Not one bit of it.
This time (and fate is sweet and relentless), unknowingly, I thoroughly enjoyed a danish masterpiece: To Verdener, same director and writer! And honestly, I watched it twice and I can't find any flaws in it. It's brilliant. The acting is so sincere, the story so well told, the movie's pace forces you to keep watching, music is original, and the plot very well unfolded.
A girl, raised as a Jehova's Witness, is forced into a devils dilemma when she falls for a charming older boy - a "non-witness", so there's bound to be trouble. This theme, very accurately portrayed and far from original, is very actual nowadays when so many people abandon their Christian roots, tempted by modern days' lusts and attractions, shopping, the net, sexuality, individuality and 'follow your dream' zeitgeist.
Not only makes Rosalinde Mynster this story believable, she acts it out so well, there must have been bucket loads of chemistry on the set. From the Elder John to the young sister Elisabeth (another danish acting wonder Sarah Juel Werner) - all characters are real, fully developed and utterly believable. The biggest surprise for me though, frankly, was Pilou Asbæk, in his role as Teis, Sara's new found love. What a charm, what charisma, and what talent. His character goes through lengths as much as even volunteering to join the Witnesses, thus reaching out for Sara and share her burden.
Sara, in the end, makes a far from diminutive choice, a choice for a worldly life - eventually even breaking all attachments; her family, her boyfriend and ultimately, Jehova.
The end dialog with her father is so pivotal and to the point, it should end up in cinema history books. Won't spoil it all for you - but it's pure excellence.
The best thing this movie achieves, is it never judges. There's no "good" or "bad" when it comes to religion. The Jehova's are portrayed unbiased, not overly sympathized, not threatening. Every decision Sara and her family have to make is difficult, complex. Yet it's far from depressing. In fact all in all this ends up to be a very positive movie.
Life has changed, life goes on. We all choose what we think is good for us.
Well to sum it up. Grand movie, very well acted, and gives food for thought big time. Give it 9 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Worlds Apart is the first film in years that I have seen in the cinema
more than once. Three times to be exact, and I can't wait to get it on
DVD. It's hard to explain what it is that makes a film "re-watchable",
but the fact that I each time I walked out of the cinema felt
differently about Sara's dilemma, is one of the reasons that I felt I
had to see it again. The film manages to maintain objectivity in its
portrayal of the Jehovah's Witnesses. You are not forced or manipulated
into disagreeing or judging them, but free to make up your own mind.
Sara and her family's lives are great and carefree before she meets
Teis. Some people need something like religion to hold on to in order
to get balance in their lives, and the film's portrayal of the family
is so charming (yet presumably realistic) that you can't help but envy
the relationship between the family members. There is a mutual love and
unconditional solidarity and respect that I at least have rarely seen
in non-religious homes. I was not raised as and have never been a
religious person, and I have never thought that I actually needed to
bother with religious questions. But this opened the gates for me. I
have rethought my whole religious standpoint. I don't see the fact that
I ended up where I started, in any way as a bad thing. I needed to know
why, and this film helped me.
Sara's dilemma is so identifiable that everyone is ready to discuss it from the second the cinema lights go up. The fact that people take this film with them home and discuss it days after they have seen it shows how universal this religious question is. There is no definite right or wrong and everyone, young and old, rich and poor, (Europeans and Americans) can relate to the issue and have an opinion about it. That is besides, great acting, great musical score and cinematic finish (editing is i.m.o. exceptionally subtle and unique) what makes this film important. Because that is the feeling you have after watching it, that you've just witnessed something important, that you wouldn't have been without.
Niels Arden Oplev yet again gave me an experience in the cinema that I won't soon forget, and I'm thrilled that this film will be representing Denmark at the Oscars (now we just need to get it nominated). I can't wait to share it with the rest of the world, and see if it affects you as deeply as it has affected me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, to expect this movie to be like every other movie is unfair. It
does not exist for the sole reason to entertain you like "Die Hard" or
"Shawshank Redemption." To say it was "melodramatic" is ridiculous.
Why? Because this is what REAL JW's have to deal with, exactly. This is
a recreation of their REAL world. I just watched it with a room full of
exJW's, with multiple females in it having gone through nearly
identical situations and even disfellowshippings. I know at least 3
others that have gone through the same. So it's really like saying some
people's religion and even lives are "melodramatic." Well then, fine,
if that's your prerogative having NEVER been a JW. This movie has
tremendous value in it clearly showing you the overwhelming no-win
complexity in choices that most non-JW (or maybe non-cult) people never
have to struggle with. So, don't downgrade this highly accurate movie
on that petty concept because of your ignorance. Not everything is
about "movie" entertainment value.
Second, further along the lines of so-called mistakes in accuracy: * A) There ARE dark depressing Kingdom Halls. Having previously been a JW for 25 years and attending DOZENS of them, I can say that they do indeed exist and I have been in numerous. * B) Elders in a few other countries ARE allowed to wear beards. * C) whether they closed the prayers correctly in completely inconsequential. * D) Students ARE often encouraged to not pursue education. I know many JW's who sacrificed careers and education because of 1975 alone. I personally was directly asked 15 years ago when I would quit college to pioneer. It happens plenty and is in writing in the WTS publications about how good pioneering is and potentially bad education is (because the kids start to think for themselves and never come back!). So don't downgrade this highly valuable movie on a handful of petty concepts because of your ignorance. That's like saying the whole Ferrari is weak because of the lugnuts.
Really in addition to a number of other concrete or abstract aspects, this movie was in large part about her TRULY opening her eyes to the cult she was seemingly trapped in and standing up for herself enough, against everyone, to escape. Many of us exJW's have lost it ALL (friends, parents, children, spouse, career, health, retirement, education, etc) and fought through solitude, loneliness, pressure, etc. with integrity and more courage than most people will ever have to muster. She portrays this PERFECTLY and BEAUTIFULLY. So don't downgrade this highly accurate movie just because you haven't TRULY opened your eyes or mustered your own strength to leave in your own JW cult-controlled life, or if you never have been a JW yourself. That's unfair.
That being said...Please watch this movie. Everyone.
If you were a JW and went through a hard time (disfellowshipped or similar) then this movie may really touch you and help you feel understood.
If you need to explain to someone else what it's like to be a JW and all the crazy games everyone plays in the cult, then this movie is almost certainly perfect to do so.
If you want to understand that JW's are not just some nutcases that come knock on your door and are actually humans that are caught up in a difficult life of soul-crushing conformity and insanity-provoking mind-control, some of which is not really their fault (like if they were raised as a child in it and got wired that way), then this movie may really help you understand them and cut them some slack. It can be completely overwhelming to be a JW sometimes as perfection is expected/demanded and humans are not perfect. The pressure can be truly unbearable at times when you think your life and even those of numerous others around you may be LITERALLY decided upon based on your actions, doubts, and/or perfect conformity. And you may not have ANYONE around to share that with that will talk to you anymore. Literally look you in the eye and walk by as if you don't even exist.
The acting was truly superb by EVERYONE in the movie, as well as any other aspects of a "movie" that you expect, as the awards it earned shows. I am very grateful for the time and effort they put to get it right, instead of just "close enough" while trying to make a $.
Please watch this movie and think/feel what a small percentage of the REAL people in our world deal with on a daily basis. Everyone. This is NOT just another "movie," but so much more than that.
A rather well-documented drama, presenting the closed society of the
It shows that "something" that they don't tell you when they knock on your door, but this is not a hateful film. The main character, a young girl, is trapped between the love for her unbeliever boyfriend and the love for her JW-family. In the Jehovah's witnesses world, these two are mutually-exclusive.
The only reason I'm giving this picture just 9 stars is because 10 are for the titans of the genre, like "Schindler's list" or "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". But these 9 stars are well deserved in my opinion.
I read about this movie and thought it seemed interesting, but it still
far exceeded my expectations. Inspired by a true story, "Worlds Apart"
is a superior drama that delves into one of the world's most intriguing
religious groups and the universal theme of divided loyalty.
17-year old Sara Dahl (Rosalinde Mynster) is a beautiful but somewhat introverted student who lives in a small Danish town with her parents, Andreas (Jens Jørn Spottag) and Karen (Sarah Boberg), and her younger siblings, Elisabeth (Sarah Juel Werner) and August (Jacob Ottensten). All are active Jehovah's Witnesses. Early on, Andreas confesses that he has committed adultery. Karen decides to divorce him, but because he is repentant, the children oppose the divorce and decide that Karen should be the one to move out, which she is.
Shortly afterward, Sara and her friend Thea (Catrine Beck) attend a party in which Sara meets a 23-year old musician named Teis (Johan Philip Asbæk). She falls for him, but becomes very drunk. Teis walks her home and the two stay in touch.
They soon get together again and while walking through a mall, Sara is approached by a young man revealed to be her older brother, Jonas (Thomas Knuth-Winterfeldt). The two have a brief and curiously awkward conversation. After Jonas leaves, Sara explains that Jonas was expelled from the JW organization because of reading an improper book and therefore is to be shunned by his family. Sara adds that she only spoke to Jonas because Teis was there. Teis, who is non-religious, quickly becomes hostile toward Sara about the JW belief that only JWs are saved.
Teis finds Sara at school shortly afterward and apologizes for criticizing her faith. The two steadily grow closer and one night at a café, Sara loses track of time and misses her train. She spends the night at Teis' apartment where the two sleep in the same bed and kiss but don't have sex or even undress.
Still, Andreas is very upset and takes her to see the church elders, all of whom are middle aged men. Seemingly led by a man named John (Anders W. Berthelsen), she is questioned about Teis, including whether he touched her breasts or not. The movie doesn't show that act, but Sara says that it happened. The elders do accept her claim that the two didn't have sex and allow her to remain in the organization, but order her to end her relationship with Teis through a letter.
She does so but feels bad about it, especially after learning that Teis has called her several times since receiving the letter but that her family hasn't told her. She asks Andreas for permission to talk to Teis in person. Andreas reluctantly agrees and shortly after Sara visits Teis, he surprises everyone by attending a service at Sara's church. Andreas and John are suspicious and John offers to refer Teis to another JW church. But Teis insists that he wants to hear about God the same way that Sara does. John reluctantly accepts that and gives Sara permission to see Teis provided the two don't have sex.
Teis' faith initially appears to be sincere and Sara's grows as well. She quits school (seemingly some kind of post-high school institution) to become a pioneer (door-to-door missionary). But right after a large JW convention, Teis and Sara have sex for the first time. From there, Sara's faith steadily fades.
Sara says that she's moving in with Karen but actually moves in with Teis. Karen covers for Sara and also secretly sees Jonas. Teis introduces Sara to his non-religious parents, Vagn (Hans Henrik Voetmann) and Jette (Charlotte Fich). Vagn treats Sara cordially but Jette spews out a long list of anti-JW comments. Sara and Teis leave and Teis seems embarrassed by his mother's behavior but reveals to Sara that he's concluded that he doesn't believe in God after all.
Eventually, Sara's façade falls apart. Elisabeth, while visiting Karen, notices that no clothes are in Sara's supposed closets. That leads to Sara being given an ultimatum from the elders leave Teis or be expelled.
I won't reveal her decision but I will say that my only significant criticism of the movie is that a character dies because of refusing a blood transfusion. That strikes me as a forced attempt to emphasize one of the most distinctive parts of JW doctrine. However, that character's funeral is very powerfully used to set up a hard hitting climax.
This is one of my three favorite foreign movies, along with "Noi" ("Nói albínói") from Iceland and "Kissed by Winter" ("Vinterkyss") from Norway what is it about the Nordics?! The performances in "Worlds Apart" are outstanding, the screenplay is very compelling, and there's plenty of great scenery for anyone who appreciates small town Denmark, as I do.
JWs are widely ridiculed and dismissed as being brainwashed. But despite coming from one of the most secular countries in the world, this movie is surprisingly balanced in its portrayal of JWs. While their beliefs and tactics are brought into question, the movie portrays JWs as, above all, human beings. None are demonized and all are portrayed as well intentioned and in some cases compassionate, even if misguided. And they even evoke sympathy because of the torment that stems from their dilemma between loving someone whether romantically or familially and the fear of going against the teachings of the church and maybe even losing their salvation.
I've read dozens of message board postings related to this movie and almost all posters who identify themselves as former JWs describe the movie as very realistic and emotional. And even most with no ties to the JW church can relate to the aforementioned universal theme of divided loyalty.
Unrated by the MPAA but very PG-13 level, this is one of those rare movies that I strongly recommend to everyone.
I was moved deeply nearly to tears watching this film on SBS 2 last night. The film deals with important issues in such a sincere and sensitive way. The film shared a great deal with my personal experience to choose between my faith and my now (ex) fiancé. An impossible decision that has brought a life time of pain and regrets. It is a terrible dilemma for a young person to face these issues. I am glad this important and wonderful film was made because I expect many people have had to go through this and it is heartbreaking, but helpful to see how others manage the situation. Always be true to yourself. We can find the Lord Yahweh anywhere, you don't have to be in a church. As long as you obey His commandments, we need His guidance and discernment when it is not always His will but Mans religion which is different. Good Luck to all young people to be strong and find happiness without control and brainwashing.
A true story of the painful experience suffered by a good girl wanting
to do right by her family whilst it dawns on her that the religious
sect she was born into places a doomsday belief above simple humanity.
She and her family are subjected to sentencing by a cabal of men who are called 'elders' whenever they stray from the path of Jehovah. Wrong doers who smoke, fornicate or receive blood transfusions risk being expelled from the chosen few who believe a happy life will be theirs after Armageddon.
The strong irony of adulterous men being forgiven is in stark contrast to the wrath shown towards a teenage girl who loves her family deeply and wants to please them, yet is exposed to the normal temptations of an adolescent.
We need more films such as this in a world where increasing religious fanaticism and evangelism are threatening the intelligent evolution of man and women kind.
The girl on whom the film is based gives her stamp of approval by making a very brief appearance.
The saddest thing of all is the excruciating loneliness suffered by those who are expelled from a tightly enclosed religious sect and treated as though they are dead. What a compassionate bunch of nitwits!
Danish screenwriter and director Niels Arden Oplev's fourth feature
film which he co-wrote with screenwriter Steen Bille, is inspired by a
newspaper article about a girl who was raised in a family who were
members of a movement called Jehovah's Witnesses. It was screened in
the Generations section at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival
in 2008, in the Discovery section at the 8th Tribeca Film Festival in
2008 and is a Danish production which was shot on location in Denmark
and produced by Danish producer Thomas Heinesen. It tells the story
about Sara, a 17-year-old girl who discovers a new world after meeting
a man named Teis who unlike her family is not part of a religious sect.
Precisely and engagingly directed by Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev, this finely paced fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints, draws a gripping and intimate portrayal of a young woman's relationship with her brother who has been banned by his parents for choosing to not follow their doctrines and a man who values love more than religion. While notable for it's naturalistic milieu depictions and the fine cinematography by Danish cinematographer Lars Vestergaard, this character-driven and narrative-driven love-story which is based on real events, depicts a poignant study of character and contains a great score by Danish composers Jens Bjørnkjær and Jacob Groth.
This instantly involving, romantic and heartrending coming-of-age story about a courageous person who is forced by the ones she holds dearest to make a choice that no one in this world should have to make, examines themes like family relations, ostracism and fundamentalism and is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, abrupt editing, colorful characters and the commendable acting performances by Danish actresses Rosalinde Mynster, Sarah Boberg, Sara Juel Werner and Danish actors Jens Jørn Spottag, Anders W. Berthelsen and Pilou Asbæk in his debut feature film role. An authentic, incisive and reverent drama.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Worlds Apart begins with infidelity, committed by the father but repent by the community. As the mother does not forgive her husband, she has her reasons, the children should decide: she has to leave the house for an apartment (where she secretly sees her expelled son; his sin was reading the wrong books). Centered is the daughter, her father and the community. Saras way out from a sheltered, warm childhood into the cold outside-world starts subtle. Initiated by her fathers adultery, though repent by the community and not accepted by his wife; here Saras thinking begins. Word and action dis-coordinate for the true, passionate believer. Here and not her sinful love for Teis (based on lies and sex, a sin in the everything-seeing eye of Jehova, mediated by her father and the elder) starts off her doubts: the father and not the lover. Even in pre-paradise is a tempting snake. The snake here is Saras friend Thea, eager to tempted, doing something forbidden (internetchatting and disco). Three kinds of young witness Thea speaks off: the unfaithful, the between, the faithful (Thea the between, Sara as the faithful on her way, passing between, to be beyond the unfaithful) Thea backs anxious, realizing that it has gone too far. It is Thea, telling Saras father what happened when the friend is needed. Is Theas accident a scarifying suicide for what she has done by denying blood transfusion, knowing that death is for the higher cause? Saras questions and answers increase in strength as well her self-thinking and self-deciding, standing her ground when tested by her father (he always tells her that her decision is hers, but he regards it not as a good idea), the community and society. To be with Teis, against her fathers and the community's wish, Sara 'moves' to her mother (their conversation shows that daughter and mother understand each other, the mother waiting and hoping for this moments), the toothbrush and clothes with Ties, observed by her sister. Two bedrooms in case father and the community make their checks. Lies and two lives. Finally, as her brother, Sara is expelled: the first step done by her father. Sara: "Do not hide behind Jehova. It is your decision". After Theas funeral, Sara appears uninvited, her fathers accusation: that she is selfish, not thinking that she hurts him, her sister and brother. Sara asks: "Do you love me?", he: "Why do you ask, of course I do" and Sara: "Do you love God more than me?" The fathers yes is responded by her: "Why?", followed by his answer: "He has made me. He is the father in heaven, he can give me eternal life." Sara: "Father. I believe this is very selfish of you." And her father: "You can repent and return that we again can be a family". Sara: "Good bye, father." The last scene in a train car, Sara leaves for Copenhagen, where she will train for a teacher, never seeing her family again. And to Jehova: "Jehova, this is the last time we talk to each other. I do not believe in you any more." The Swedish SVT1-anouncement, 2010-05-10 22.00 for To Verderner/Worlds Apart tells The Swedish SVT1-anouncement, 2010-05-10 22.00 for To Verderner tells that Sara has to choose between religion and love. It is not this. It is so much more. Neither religion or love but 'naked' freedom, the strength to be persona non grata, the unwelcome person. For Tabita Broener (Sara) it was painful years journey. What is left behind will always be a companion in daily life, for better or worse. One of the reasons to leave, hardly noticeable, is the subtle tempting danger of spiritual and physical incest. With Lacan: the Third is absent, opening the door for incest. The decision of leaving is always personal. But to go to action, help is needed. Tabita Broeners story was read by the director and co-writer Niels Arden Oplev 2006 in Berlingske Tidende. A journey of many years was movie transformed to a year. The director uses neutral respect, only facts speak, helped by an expelled consult. Generally, wherever political and religious 'sects' are, the same is observed: leaving the warm (incestious) room, you are marked as 'persona non grata'. The lacanian No/m du Père: the empty space of l'ordre symbolique is not empty but occupied by l'ordre imaginaire. Mirrorreflecting to the members what Jehovah, told by the elders, what is wright and what is wrong. The absence of the No/m du Père makes the mentioned incest possible. It is this that is the danger and that Sara falls in love with the disturbing Third, Teis. It does not matter if he sees what Sara sacrifices and should balance. He was just a stepping stone for life outside and is too much the symbol of the past. Not only the community is closed-minded, also Teis parents are insensitive, practice self-righteous hypocrisy. Many members of such communities do not question the base of faith, do not brake out, unsatisfied what they have. Few, as Sara, are consciously hungry for more, without the courage to look for it outside. This is the reason why her brother returns to the fold of the community, telling Sara that he is unable to 'live isolated and lonely' meaning outside their family. To see the mother and Sara secretly and not at all father his other sister and the little confused brother . If critic wants to see, which is not true, it is here. The description of the organizations effect on the family and how they handle it. These scenes are heartbreaking. Questioned, the organizations will answer with passages from the Bible still: it is sad. Sad, as this method is well used in other political and religious organizations.
The best friend I ever had was a jehovas witness, I lost him where him
being a jehovas witness was a part of the reason. My mother grew up as
a jehowas witness, with her father being a tyrant and power hungry
person with very little love to share.
I have never myself directly been involved with this "faith". But after watching and reading a lot on the internet, and watching this movie that should be a true story and what resembles the stories I've read and heard about, I think it is a very important movie to watch and think about.
Not only for people who are jehovas witnesses, but for anyone who have any beliefs. Putting things in perspective, I myself get these questions. "How can you put your faith/love in something you never seen or only have been told about, above REAL human beings/family".
To that I will never understand, and will as the main character, think it is more egoistic to deny your family, then your own beliefs.
To get into a more movie perspective, the movie was by no means perfect. It's filmotography was the worst part of the movie, real dull and not very movielike. But maybe it was intentional to make it feel more "real"?
Anyways if the message of the movie was not as important or near and dear to me, I would rate it a 7, but because of personal importance I dedicate it a 9.
I hope you liked my short and perhaps not super informative review. I already wrote too much to go any deeper within the movie.
All the best.
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