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Pelle the Conqueror
(Pelle Erobreren)
Sweden/Denmark  - 1987
Directed by Bille August


A young boy and his aging father emigrate to Denmark from Sweden in the 19th Century, expecting to find great riches.  The father, Lassefar (Max von Sydow), promises breakfast in bed and roast pork with raisins on Sundays once they reach Denmark.  The reality they discover upon reaching their destination, however, is very different.   The older man, Lasse, and the young boy, Pelle (Pelle Hvenegaard) are not desirable farmhands and are cast aside by all but the lowest of farmers.  The situation they finally are able to arrange is no better than the meager existence they had known in Sweden.   Slapped with this disappointment, they must still, somehow, manage to survive.

Several sub-plots are interwoven with the central plot, which is the formation of Pelle's indomitable spirit.  Pelle must compensate for a father who is almost crushed by life.  The film uses wide angles to achieve an affect of childhood wonderment and finds intriguing landscapes in this place of fragile beauty.

Pelle, the Conqueror won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (1989); the Bodil Award for Best Actor (Max von Sydow), Best Film (Bille August), and Best Supporting Actor (Bjorn Granath as Farmhand Erik) from the Bodil Festival (1988); The Golden Palm (Bille August) from the Cannes Film Festival (1988); the European Film Award for Best Actor (Max von Sydow) (1988); the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film (1989); and the Guldbagge for Best Actor (Max von Sydow) and Best Film (1988).  Max von Sydow was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his work in Pelle, the Conqueror (1989).

Runtime:  150 minutes

 


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