1864 on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

1864

1864 is another triumph for Nordic Noir, for television as a whole, and for viewers who owe it to themselves to watch this drama.

If there’s one thing I like about a TV series, it’s when it knows the right time to come to a conclusion and go out with a bang. And that was what Borgen managed perfectly. The only problem is that, while you know that further episodes would just retread old ground, you miss the cast members and their interaction.

And if there’s one thing I like even more, it’s when all the key cast members get back together for a new programme, so we have something fresh to get our teeth stuck into, whilst knowing that not only is it in very safe hands, but also that we are going to enjoy it just as much. And then came 1864, an 8-part drama about the time when Germany and Prussia teamed up to declare war on Denmark, and it’s effect on two brothers – Peter (Jens Sætter-Lassen) and Laust Jensen (Jakob Oftebro) – who sign up to take part in what became the bloodiest battle in Denmark’s history.

The series is narrated by Inge (Marie Tourell Søderberg), lover to both Peter and Laust (#awkward!) as she tells us early on, as she looks back on her life in her memoirs which are read in the present day by Claudia (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina), a schoolgirl sent by Social Services to care for partially-sighted old man in a wheelchair Severin (Waage Sandø), rather like Adrian Mole having to visit Bert Baxter. But why are the memoirs in his house? All shall be revealed in due course…


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The meat of the story begins in South Funen, Denmark, 1851, when the Danish defeated both the Prussians and also the insurgents from Slesvig. As a boy, Peter Jensen is given a book about flowers – written in Swedish – for his birthday. If either of my nephews got that for theirs, as opposed to something for their Wii U or Xbox One, they would not be impressed. But I digress…

Parallels are made in the present day to soldiers going off to war, and the series cuts regularly between present and the past.

Actress Johanne Louise Heiberg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is helping Councillor Monrad (Nicolas Bro) to overcome his fear of speaking to a crowd, with him enlisting her help as he’s a huge fan (as well as being huge in structure), and we soon see how he becomes about as much use as a Nick Clegg.

As we jump from 1851 to 1863, it’s no surprise to see that both Peter and Laust turn into hunks who’ve been down the gym, I mean, working hard on the farm and in the stables. And, at one point, when I saw a tooth extracted with force in episode 2, I felt the pain in the same place in my own mouth! Good dental care was hard to come by, back in those days. And as for dealing with a gangrenous leg? OUCH!

It’s very good, but in contrast to Borgen, it does feel like it slows down too much when it gets bogged down in the nitty-gritty of treaties and which country’s fed up with another coutnry. I wanted them to speed up a bit and get to the war side of it, or at least to those who are acting with some fire in their belly, not simply standing around in posh rooms pontificating. However, I can see the attraction of this part of 1864, as it feels like Borgen: The Olden Days.

I loved Borgen. It showed the Danish govt going through coalition politics just around the same time our own govt was. If I used that line on a date, my date would probably not get very wet.

As for 1864, it’s a must-watch and one of my favourite scenes came when Borgen‘s Pilou Asbæk (as Didrich) and Søren Malling (as Johan Larsen) meet for the first time, on the battlefield, and the former asks of the latter, “Have we met before?” That made me burst out laughing!


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1864, like Borgen, is filmed in an odd ratio. It’s not 16:9 and it’s not 2.35:1, like some Channel 4 dramas (The Fear, Secret State, Utopia), but somewhere inbetween at 2.20:1. It’s different, but it works really well and gives a good, cinematic look to the world of Danish politics. The print is crisp and clear throughout with no issues and looks fantastic on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.

The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and is fine, but there’s nothing to speak of going on in the surround channel.

Unfortunately, in this package there are no extras, but at the time of writing, both the Blu-ray and DVD are a mere £20, so given the fact that you’re getting eight hours of top-quality powerhouse drama with stellar acting, writing, production and direction, the lack of extras is not an issue with this release and I can highly recommend you make a purchase.

There are subtitles in English during any Danish dialogue, but when there’s occasional English dialogue, this isn’t subtitled. The same happened for seasons 1 and 3 of Borgen, but that aspect was corrected for season 2. Why it wasn’t continued into season 3, I don’t know. Chapters are very thin on the ground with just 5 per hour-long episode.

1864 is released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 8th, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.


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FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
9
10
8
0
OVERALL Unmissable


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 8 * 60 minutes (approx)
Year: 2014
Cat no: FCD1117
Released: June 8th 2015
Chapters: 5 per epsiode
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Languages: Danish, plus some English dialogue
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.20:1 (HDTV)
Disc Format: 2*BD50

Director: Ole Bornedal
Producers: Jonas Allen and Peter Bose
Series writing credits: Ole Bornedal and Tom Buk-Swienty (inspired by the book: Slagtebænk Dybbøl)
Creator: Ole Bornedal
Music: Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich


Cast:
Peter Jensen: Jens Sætter-Lassen
Laust Jensen: Jakob Oftebro
Inge Juel: Marie Tourell Søderberg
Didrich: Pilou Asbæk
Johan Larsen: Søren Malling
Ditlev Gothard Monrad: Nicolas Bro
Johanne Louise Heiberg: Sidse Babett Knudsen
Claudia Henriksen: Sarah-Sofie Boussnina
Severin: Bent Mejding
Oberst E. A. Lundbye: Søren Pilmark
C. C. Hall: Olaf Johannessen
Karen Jensen: Sarah Boberg
Thøger Jensen: Lars Mikkelsen
Godsforvalter Juel: Peter Gilsfort
Ingrid Juel: Helle Fagralid
Otto von Bismarck: Rainer Bock
Helmuth Johan von Moltke: Heikko Deutschmann
Baronen: Waage Sandø
Laust, aged 12: Sylvester Byder
Peter, aged 11: Benjamin Holmstrøm Nielsen
Young Inge Juel: Fanny Leander Bornedal
Sofia: Eva Josefikova
Einar: Carl-Christian Riestra
Erasmus: Esben Dalgaard Andersen
Alfred: Jens Christian Buskov Lund
Methuselah: Holger Perfort
Ignazio: Zlatko Buric
Djargo: Jordan Haj
King Christian IX: Henrik Prip
Sergent Jespersen: Peter Plaugborg
Wilhelm Dinesen: Johannes Lassen
Christian de Meza: Søren Sætter-Lassen
Oberst Møller: Rasmus Bjerg
Queen Victoria: Barbara Flynn
Lord Palmerston: James Fox
Helmuth Johan von Moltke: Heikko Deutschmann
Henrik Claude du Plat: Jens Jørn Spottag
Ernst Schau: Troels Malling
Friedrich von Wrangel: Hans-Michael Rehberg
Den Røde Prins: Barnaby Metschurat
August von Goeben: Karel Dobrý
Edwin von Manteuffel: Peter Benedict
Ludwig: Roland Schreglmann
Heinz: Ludwig Trepte
Viggo Monrad: Adam Ild Rohweder
Ingrid Juel: Helle Fagralid
Godsforvalter Juel: Peter Gilsfort
Methuselah: Holger Perfort

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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