Cinema: Hail The Epic-Size Hero

PELLE THE CONQUEROR Directed and Written by Bille August

Whiteness: the perfect whiteness of an enveloping fog. Muted sounds: voices, the creak of sails and rigging. Very slowly, the outlines of a 19th century sailing ship begin to take shape through the brume. The great image that opens Pelle the Conqueror turns out to be a perfect emblem for the long, entirely absorbing work that unfolds: very simple yet powerfully, mysteriously absorbing.

That ship carries Swedish immigrants seeking work in Denmark. Among them are an old man, Lasse (Max von Sydow), and his young son Pelle (Pelle Hvenegaard). The former is...

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