John Cassavetes made a groundbreaking movie with Faces in 1968. In a nutshell, it’s a story about the American businessman. Who he thinks he needs to be and in effect who he has become. Scandinavian filmmaker Per Fly turned the camera lense on his own country in 2003 to make The Inheritance. This startlingly suprising tale of Christoffer (played flawlessly by Ulrich Thomsen), who is forced to choose between his own family and the family business is truly mindblowing. This film hit me on many levels, most importantly, the depths that people will sink when they are put in certain situations. Yet, Christoffer isn’t painted in strokes of good and bad. Our friends overseas never make movies that are that easy on us or that clear cut. This is a film operating on many different levels and assumptions. It examines the various relationships Christoffer has with his own wife and kids, his mother and with business in general.
Having worked for a large company and then moved up within the organization, I know a thing or two about the class differences between employees. They are subtle but they always there. While Per Fly didn’t explicitly focus on this, it is something that is felt throughout the film and will be felt by viewers. I am so glad that I found this gem of a DVD. I don’t know that this film is for everyone but at the same time I think everyone should see The Inheritance.
Making Of Documentary
This is a highly extensive and intensive look at Per Fly’s process. Clocking in at around 55 minutes this “making of” is broken up into 5 parts. They are “Improvisation”, “Music”, “Learning to do what you have to do”, “Locations” and “The Realistic Camera”. All of these are equally well done, although I got the most from “Learning to do what you have to do”. I think that this is a must view in film schools and for filmmakers on all levels. I think that sometimes we forget (those of us that also dabble in moviemaking), that what orginally got us into this business is a love of movies. In order to see one to completion, you really do need to love it and nurture it to it’s fullest potential.
Essay by Film Critic Richard Schickel
I have read a few of Schickel’s pieces although for what projects they were for I cannot remember. I will say that he really does a good job of breaking down The Inheritance, so that those (like I was) who are unfamilair with the film, can get a little bit of a foothold without knowing the whole story before they see the movie.
Watching a commentary in subtitles is just hard for me. I usually like to put these things on and then do some cleaning around the house. Still, I was so intrugued by this movie that I wanted to hear what the director had to say. There were times where, I felt, he talked about the actions of the character a bit much. I was more interested in hearing him tell about how the film got made, or maybe speak to his own personal politics. In some cases it seemed like he did that, but I just think overall I had a hard time getting my head around having to read the commentary track.
Digital Transfer, enhanced for 16:9 televisions. While I don’t think this is a Dogme film per se, the theme of it is certainly in the spirit of one and I am sure that Lars Von Trier and Co. would welcome this film into their canon of movies. My favorite thing about the look of The Inheritance is how nothing looks too good. Nobody even really looks like they are wearing make-up. In fact, this warmness that it seems actors want when they are on camera, it is just non-existent here. Personally, I am a fan of this look. I don’t think every film should have it, and it would have been wrong for a movie like The Pacifier, but for The Inheritance, I couln’t imagine it being done any other way. This look creates a coldness that very much adds to the detachment of our main character.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1. Well, I have to be honest here, this movie sounds good but it’s in a foreign language. Most of my time was spent reading subtitles. I do love the moody score that is used sparingly throughout this film. In fact, it seems like we only get very subtle samples of it which actually add to it’s effect. When not talking, we get to hear the stillness and natural sounds of people moving through the world. It seems that Per Fly has gone out of his way to make every little thing an asset to this movie.
The main characters sit on a bed not facing each other. Already, the film is losing a large audience simply because I think people will view this movie as too arty. And lets be honest, it is an art film so why market it any other way? It’s just sad that a well done movie like The Inheritance won’t have much of chance competing against todays other releases. The back features a review by Kennth Turan, a description of the movie, special features listing and a credits list. I wish there had been some way for the makers of this DVD to make this film more appealing to the casual DVD viewer. As it stands, it seems like it will be relagated to “word of mouth” status.
The Inheritance is one of the best movies I have screened in a long time. It really captures the coldness and (I think) loneliness of big business. Of having everything you think you could need, and then realizing that you have nothing. This movie doesn’t take a moral stand. It just shows what can happen when you become what you behold. When you try and walk that thin line between working within the system, but not working for the system.
I highly recommend The Inheritance and I look forward to seeing more of Per Fly’s work.
The Inheritance was released February 21, 2003.