During World War II, many, many horrific events unfolded. There have been numerous films attempting to depict the abject horror that was experienced during those dark times of the past. However, there are moments that occurred during this period that are referred to as a footnote in the large scale of the war effort that deserves to be told in full context. This is exactly what Ole Bornedal has done with his film, The Bombardment (known as The Shadow in My Eye in Denmark) on Netflix.
Based on a true story, The Bombardment captures a moment in time during the second world war when the UK’s Royal Air Force mistakenly bombed a school, instead of the Gestapo stronghold in Copenhagen, Denmark which was under the occupation of Germany. “Operation Carthage” fatally killed around 125 people, with the majority being the children at the school, a true travesty that hasn’t been discussed enough, until now.
The film boasts some top European talent such as Alex Høgh Andersen, who plays Frederik, played Ivar on the hit series Vikings, and Danica Curcic, who was recently seen in the psychological thriller The Chestnut Man. Yet, I was disappointed to see the underuse of these two actors within the story, as their roles were somewhat buried in a cluster of other small subplots. I’ve seen these two actors throw themselves into brilliant performances, giving each and every emotion they had to the weight of the story.
Which speaks to sadly my issue with the film, is the chaotically messy first act. The world-building and the introductory scene-setting were quite disorderly with the editing also being highly abrupt. I found myself whipping from one scene to the next with new characters trying to decipher through the plot of the film. The exposition was thin leaving the audience to determine the relevance of a scene.
The second act finds its footing eventually, and the tone significantly shifts as the plot kicks into a higher gear as the plans for the Royal Air Force bombing are set into motion. Where the film really tightens up its narrative, is during the second half of the film during the tragedy of the actual event.
The scenes are beautifully shot and capture the terror, and horror of war and those civilians caught in the middle. What happened in Denmark was devastating, and the young actors on set deserve full plaudits for what they delivered on screen. Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen, who plays Henry, and Ella Josephine Lund Nilsson, who plays Eva, tapped into something so compelling and raw it leaves you disturbed and shocked. Henry’s story as a whole I thought worked well, and his character’s arc really pays off in the latter stages.
Here is where Bornedal really drives home the point of this film. During this unforgivable mistake, 125 were forced to pay the costs, and the lives of the people of Copenhagen were changed forever. The second half of this story from the performances, to the pacing, the use of the score to create tension, and down to the visual effects utilized all capture trauma that unfolds on that in history.
While The Bombardment struggles to figure out how to lay the foundation for the larger narrative of the film, it eventually gets to where it’s headed. The second half of this film has some incredibly terrifying moments that were the emotional payoff from the performances of the cast, nailing the pace, and crafting a tension that will leave your heart thumping, and your hands clasped over your mouth. This terrible tragedy is not for the faint of heart, but the story deserves to be told, and the impact of the lives lost should never, ever be forgotten.
The Bombardment is available exclusively on Netflix now.
While The Bombardment struggles to figure how to lay the foundation for the larger narrative of the film, it eventually gets to where it’s headed. The second half of this film has some incredibly terrifying moments that were the emotional payoff from the performances of the cast, nailing the pace, and crafting a tension that will leave your heart thumbing, and your hands clasped over your mouth. This terrible tragedy is not for the faint of heart, but the story deserves to be told, and the impact of the lives lost should never, ever be forgotten.