In SORROW AND JOY filmmaker Johannes and his wife, schoolteacher Signe, experience the biggest sorrow and misfortune one can ever imagine. Nevertheless, in all the hopelessness they must ...
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In SORROW AND JOY filmmaker Johannes and his wife, schoolteacher Signe, experience the biggest sorrow and misfortune one can ever imagine. Nevertheless, in all the hopelessness they must try to reach for mutual and mature love in order to continue life after death. Director Nils Malmros is one of Danish films most significant personalities and during the last forty years his characters have always had a strong autobiographical element. Being his most personal film to date, SORROW AND JOY is no exception. Written by
Before the showing of Danish film 'Sorrow and Joy' at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival, director Nils Malmros explained that the majority of his films have been based on his own personal experiences, and this one was no exception. Which is going to make it difficult to review and not seem insensitive in so doing, but I'll give it a go: Film director Johannes arrives home one evening to find his parents-in-law waiting for him. They explain that his wife Signe, a manic-depressive, has slit the throat of her and Johannes' baby daughter. As the trial date comes closer, Johannes and Signe rebuild their relationship, and he tells their story to her psychiatrist.
The beginning of the film, which is the immediate aftermath of the killing, seemed a little unreal to me: if I were told my child had been killed my immediate reaction would be to run to her bedroom in order to prove that no, she was still alive; Johannes merely sits down and calmly talks to his mother-in-law. And the treatment of Signe, both by the police and the medical profession, is devoid of any unsympathetic attitudes - indeed, even the parents of the small children she teaches get up a petition for her reinstatement! Laudable, but even if she were ill at the time it's hard to believe no-one would make a judgmental comment about a woman who has killed her own child. Even Johannes himself is shown as being far more concerned with Signe than with mourning their baby - which is itself ironic, as prior to the killing he was usually careless of her feelings. But this is based on real life and I suppose in real life people do illogical things.
One perhaps inappropriately light-hearted moment for me came when I realised Signe's advocate is played by Søren Pilmark, co-host of the Copenhagen 2001 Eurovision Song Contest - and famously labelled by BBC commentator Terry Wogan as 'Dr Death'. At least in this he wasn't speaking in rhyming couplets...
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