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The Toronto Jewish Film Festival: “A Fortunate Man”

Here is a real epic of a film close to three hours in length. And what an interesting story it tells. It’s most captivating and well put together with outstanding, cinematography, set design and costume design.

It is a Danish and German production. The film is based on Henrik Pontoppidan’s novel “Lykke-Per” considered one of Denmark’s most cherished novels. It is translated to the screen by Academy Award-winning director Bille August.

This period piece seems set in the early 1900’s and is the story of Per Sidenius an aspiring engineer who leaves his rural home in Jutland to attend engineering school in Copenhagen. His father and entire family, except for his mother, are hard, nasty and blinded from any shred of humanity by their Lutheran religion. Per’s father refuses to give him any money as he is steering off the righteous path by going to Copenhagen. He slaps Per and exiles him to the Devil but not before giving him his grandfather’s watch. As we learn later Per’s father also left home against his father’s wishes but was given this watch.

Per rents a room in a tenement and attends engineering school. His engineering ability is tremendous and he has a huge project with wind that involves creating electricity by windmill and wave power and a method of drainage to create more arable land and even create a new port in Denmark to compete with Hamburg and Bremen.

He encounters Ivan Salomon and impresses him with his grand engineering scheme and falls in love with Jackobe Salomon. The Salomon’s are a wealthy Jewish family who welcome Per into the family and Per becomes engaged to Jakobe. He gets the backing of a consortium led by Jakobe’s father but his pride essentially destroys him and “The Fortunate Man” takes a tumble and his lust for a Jutland preacher’s daughter finishes him off. Has he accomplished anything? Apparently, the joy and suffering he had caused to Jakobe did create something positive.

A few anti-Semitic remarks give some hint Denmark was not that much different than Germany.

I won’t spoil the story by describing the plot but be prepared for themes of love, class, ambition, obsession, pride, lust, family and the devastating effect a brutally cold childhood can shape a person and their destiny.

Completely solid acting.

For a trailer and more about the film

This 162-minute film is a Danish and German production made in 2018. It plays May 6th at 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk 6.

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