Bille August adapts Danish masterpiece Lucky Per
by Vassilis Economou
- The seasoned director returns with an epic period drama production based on the novel of a Danish national treasure
Acclaimed Danish filmmaker, Bille August, is adapting one of his homeland’s literary landmarks, Lucky Per, written by Nobel Prize-winning author Henrik Pontoppidan. The novel was originally published in eight volumes between 1898 and 1904 and is widely held to be a key part of Denmark’s national and cultural heritage. Its new film counterpart, the period drama, A Fortunate Man [+see also:
interview: Bille August
film profile], from which a TV mini-series will also be produced, has been selected to open Copenhagen’s film event organized by Biografklub, an association with upwards of 170,000 members.
Pontoppidan’s partly autobiographical story follows Per Sidenius, an ambitious young man who decides to abandon his rural Jutland and the strict, religious family with whom he lives - a markedly patriarchal affair ruled over by his unyielding pastor father - to sail towards the nation’s capital in pursuit of happiness. Per dreams of becoming an engineer and is fascinated by the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen life. He gets to work on a visionary energy project and, in the process, meets and marries Jakobe, a member of a well-to-do Jewish family. The future seems bright. But Per is unable to leave his past behind him, a burden he‘s been carrying around since childhood: the bitter legacy of a mercilessly judgmental and dogmatic family unit.
Lead character Per is played by Esben Smed, known for his work in the TV series Follow the Money, his part in sports comedy Summer of '92 [+see also:
interview: Esben Smed
film profile], and his Berlinale Shooting Star nomination in 2017. Taking on the role of Jakobe, meanwhile, is Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, previously seen in Danish crime/mystery movie, The Absent One [+see also:
film profile] and in the third season of hit series, The Bridge. The remainder of the cast includes Peter Plaugborg, Jens Albinus, Rasmus Bjerg, Anders Hove, Tommy Kenter and Julie Christiansen.
Adapting Pontoppidan’s epic and classic romance had been a long-standing dream of the director’s, and it was August himself, in league with his son, Anders Frithiof August (The Model [+see also:
film profile], Superclásico [+see also:
film profile]), who co-penned the script for A Fortunate Man. In charge of photography, meanwhile, was seasoned cinematographer Dirk Brüel (Silent Heart [+see also:
film profile]), with shooting taking place across Copenhagen, Jutland, Lolland and Funen, also stretching down south to Austria.
Budgeted at €7.4 million, A Fortunate Man is a Danish production by Thomas Heinesen and Karin Trolle for Nordisk Film Production, while international sales will be handled by TrustNordisk. A four-part mini-series will also be drawn from the film, set to be aired on TV2 Denmark in 2019.
The film’s national release date is scheduled for 30 August, with the first trailer available to view here.
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