Der Kommer En Dag (The Day Will Come)
Based on numerous allegations of historic abuse at Denmark’s Godhavn orphanage, as well as many other establishments across the country, Der Kommer En Dag (The Day Will Come) is a wrenching exploration of institutional abuse during a time when the country was celebrating prosperity, progressiveness and growth. Jesper W. Nielsen’s film follows two brothers sent to Gudbjerg, a fictional boarding school for boys based on Godhavn in 1960s Copenhagen. Erik and Elmer run amok through the city streets, thieving magazines and trinkets. Their father has committed suicide, and their mother struggles to raise them on her own while making little money. The boys appear harsh at first, demanding allowances and new toys while she coughs up blood, but there is no malice in them, simply youthful delinquency. When their mother is hospitalised, the brothers are unceremoniously packed off to Gudbjerg. There they join the ranks of beaten, abandoned schoolboys, who wait in vain for parents who will never come.
Run by the appropriately named Frederik Heck (Sherlock’s Lars Mikkelsen), Gudbjerg studiously ignores the recent outlawing of capital punishment, disciplining the boys with slaps and verbal abuse. If a pupil tries to escape, they are viciously beaten by their own classmates. Despite their hardship, the brothers are brave and loyal to each other, played with integrity by the young breakout actors Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt and Harald Kaiser Hermann. Elmer enchants his classmates with his gift for storytelling, but suffers sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher. Only one staff member shows them any kindness: the naive new teacher Ms. Lilian (Sofie Gråbøl).
With its roots in earlier Danish masterpieces such as Festen, Der Kommer En Dag contains scene after scene of raw emotion, eventually leaving one drained by its intense final moments. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Erik Zappon, the physical and psychological trauma experienced by the boys is felt acutely in every sequence, while the accomplished adult cast provide a chilling insight into the minds of those who perpetuate child abuse. While the brothers eventually leave their prison and escape down a tree-lined road, the ending is bittersweet; the evil seen here will not soon be forgotten by its victims, and many of their real-life counterparts did not achieve justice until much later.
Der Kommer En Dag (The Day Will Come) does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about the 60th London Film Festival visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch the trailer for Der Kommer En Dag (The Day Will Come) here: