bombardment movie Netflix

In the calm and devastating Danish World War II movie “The Bombardment,” a film about the day the RAF came to bomb Copenhagen’s Gestapo headquarters and also damaged a local school, a horrible war accident is remembered.

Writer-director Ole Bornedal’s film, titled “The Shadow in My Eye (Skyggen I mitje)” in Denmark, adheres to the classic disaster movie pattern, following multiple storey strands—the lives of those who would be brought together on that tragic ship in the final months of the war.

Frederick (Alex Hgh Andersen) is a working-class boy who sided with the wrong side, something his outraged father will never forget. He’s a member of the HIPO, Denmark’s secret police, which works closely with the Gestapo and frequently performs the Germans’ dirty work for them. He’s torn, but realistic enough to see that “the war is lost” and “I’m a dead man.”

bombardment movie Netflix

Teresa (Fanny Bornedal) is a nun and a teacher at a French Catholic school who is so disturbed by the events of the war that she begins to doubt her religion.

Eva’s (Ella Josephine Lund Nilsson) siblings (Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen) are students, as are Henry’s (Ella Josephine Lund Nilsson) parents. At the outset of the film, he witnesses another tragic accident: a wedding party being strafed by an RAF Mosquito as they drive to the ceremony. Due to the trauma, Henry has stopped communicating, and his sister and her friend Eva have had little success in getting him to speak again.

Even with the war going so terribly for the Axis overseas, there are Danish Resistance fighters, many of whom are being apprehended as the Gestapo and HIPO close in. The only way to save those who haven’t already been picked up and tortured is to raid a commandeered Shell Oil building in the city’s heart, where the Gestapo and HIPO are holding inmates as “human shields” against an air raid.

bombardment movie Netflix

Some of the resistance detainees are aware that the RAF has grudgingly consented to conduct the operation.

Bornedal frames his film in everyday life, with families eating and fighting before going to school, where the children of Nazi officers instil anti-Semitism in the classroom, which is gently addressed by the less anti-Semitic nuns. The Resistance, the jackbooted HIPO “traitors,” and the apprehensive aircrews ready for a fatal, little-margin-for-error rooftop level air raid, “Operation Carthage,” that they all know is coming, are all weighed down by the gloom in “Bombardment.”

During the first act, I was convinced that Bornedal (“Nightwatch”) had gone overboard, with too many stories and sidebars. It’s difficult to keep track of everything and everyone in your head, as well as their roles in the plot.

As she searches for evidence of God in the midst of mass murder, the confused, questioning nun engages in self-flagellation.

Her prioress (Susse Wold) scolds her in Danish or dubbed into English, “We’re not 15th-century Jesuits.”

bombardment movie Netflix

Sister Teresa’s connections with the traitor Frederik are also risky. With little effective support from a harsh doctor, little Henry fights to regain his voice. Because they are aware of their earlier erroneous strafing, the RAF crews are flying with guilt. As a result, an increasing number of Resistance members are apprehended and tortured or executed without trial.

As the picture thunders towards a climax, the sound of “ticking” on the soundtrack transports us into the crammed cockpits of those two-seat bombers, into the school, and inside the famed Shell Building.

“Bombardment” draws you in, and, like the worst footage from Russia’s homicidal invasion of Ukraine, it doesn’t hold back in showing us the devastating horrors of war and the frantic search for survivors that follows.

If you’ve seen other Danish films set during WWII, you’ll notice that they all follow the same fundamental plot lines. There are legends of the valiant little country’s defiance of the bloodthirsty, morally bankrupt invaders. And we have different versions of the storey about how they transported the majority of the Jews out of the nation before the Germans could take them. This film demonstrates that not all Danes were good, and it reminds us that the “neutral” Danes were occupied as a protectorate.

bombardment movie Netflix

The fact that it all felt so contemporary and relevant struck me. Air attacks on wedding parties and schools continue, while the bad people continue to use “human shields” and compile target lists of anyone who opposes tyranny.

The rain and fog-drenched flight scenes are very believable, and the delayed fuse (“time bomb”) explosions are more tragically realistic than theatrical.

No matter how hardened we’ve all gotten to the atrocities of war and its grim corpse count, the faces of the rescuers, the weepy, desperate parents, and the casualties will leave you horrified.

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