Mifune

"Excellent"

Mifune Review


In 1995, Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg established a code of ethics for an alternative form of filmmaking. The two directors were fed up by the way in which movie making was "raped" by technology such as special effects, expensive gear, cranes, filters, dollies, and spotlights. They wisely knew that they could never measure up to the Americans in that area, so they decided that European filmmaking should head in an all-together different direction. The result was a vow of chastity complete with the ten commandments of what they called Dogme filmmaking. Some of these groundbreaking rules included: on location shooting without the ability to bring in props, the rule that music will not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot, the camera must be hand-held, optical work and filters are forbidden, and the films must not contain superficial action such as murders, weapons, etc. The purpose was to force a director to think along unconventional and imaginative lines in order to create a Dogme film, and the first two attempts, Vinterberg's The Celebration, and Von Trier's The Idiots, were both successful.

Director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's Mifune, is the third film from the Danish Dogme Collective. Subtitled in English, it is the story of Kresten (Anders W. Berhelsen) who has become an overnight sensation as a businessman in Copenhagen. The morning after his wedding to the boss' daughter, he receives a phone call that his estranged father has just died. He has trouble explaining this to his wife, since he has told everyone in the city that he has no living relatives, in attempt to disguise his humble origins. Now he must return to the family's run down farm to bury his father and make arrangements to hide the truth of his mentally retarded brother from his new family and friends.

Caught in a pack of lies with his in-laws, he comes up with a desperate plan to advertise for a housekeeper to look after his brother. But when the beautiful Liva (Iben Hjejle) arrives, she only complicates things for Kristen. Liva also is not what she seems. Out of a need to keep her rebellious younger brother Bjarke (Emil Tarding) in private school, she's been working as a high-class prostitute in Copenhagen. Now she's on the run from her pimp and a mysterious man who has been threatening her on the phone. When the two come together they get caught in a whirlwind of hysteria as their troubles begin to compound.

The film is excellent, and the Dogme style only adds to the originality of the production. Supposedly, there is one scene with music being played on a bent drainpipe, and another with an instrumentalist hiding in a ditch. The idea for the original Danish title (Mifunes Sidste Sang, literally Mifune's Last Song) came to Dragh-Jacobsen when Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune died in 1997. In The Seven Samurai by director Akira Kurosawa, Mifune plays a phony samurai of peasant origins. The parallel is evident..

The Danish are really onto something with the proliferation of the Dogme style. Find out where Mifune is playing and enjoy it. It's worth the extra effort, and it's a breath of fresh air from the stale stench of the overblown Hollywood mega-productions.

Choo choo.



Mifune

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th March 1999

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Zentropa Entertainments, Danmarks Radio (DR), Nimbus Film Productions, SVT Drama

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Søren Kragh-Jacobsen

Starring: Anders W. Berthelsen as Kresten, as Liva, as Rud, Sofie Gråbøl as Claire, as Bjarke, as Gerner, as Pernille, as Nina, as Hanne, Ellen Hillingsø as Lykke, Sidse Babett Knudsen as Bibi, Sofie Stougaard as Lady of bakery

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