Movies Galore takes a look at Western”The Salvation” directed by Danish filmaker Kristian Levring from 2014

Written by David Strege

The Salvation Film Poster

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Directed by Danish Film director Kristian Levring, Co written by Anders Thomas Jenson, Starring Mads Mikkelson, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jonathon Pryce, filmed in Denmark, United Kingdom, and South Africa, the dirty, twisted face of Mikkelsen is rock solid. The man is hurt, never broken, and gets his final revenge no matter the personal cost. Hollywood has lost the capability of producing non-bullshit moviesOn the one hand, ‘The Salvation’ is a classic western. Good citizens versus evil villains. A steam train. A stage coach. Horses. Lots of shootouts. Barren desert landscapes. A dusty frontier town. Name a western cliché, and it’s there. Except Indians. They’re only talked about in this film.

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On the other hand, this is also a western with original, non-classic elements in it. Lots of languages. Parts are spoken in Danish, but you can also hear Spanish and Italian from time to time. Plus: a very strong female character, who radiates power although she is mute. Thirdly: the South-African locations. They’re not very prominent, because they look very much like the American West. But when you know it, you can’t help but think about it.

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“The Salvation” drew my curiosity for two things: the lead and the fact that it’s a Danish western.  The atmosphere of the wild-west is really well done and has immersed me in the mid 1800’s, and with a well-paced narrative and suspense of a typical revenge-story told effectively.  I love the ending where they both mute just look the sherif in the face and dare him to follow.

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Mads Mikkelsen shines as the lead but the overall cast is good. Compliments to the screenwriter, too, for creating several characters that I would wish to see more of.   

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If you like Open Range, 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit and Unforgiven, you should certainly check this movie out.  Overall, this film seems to be very much inspired by the Sergio Leone westerns. The visual style is superb, and director Levring uses every trick in the book. Aereal shots, slow motion, close-ups: it’s all there. I was amazed by the colours in some scenes – it looked as if they were heavily digitally enhanced. The result is astonishing. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, Levring surprises with a beautiful and, in a way, revealing end shot. Sergio Leone created the spaghetti-western. Maybe the time has come now for the smørrebrød-western.

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