5-star movie, 4-star DVD
LANCE R LINDLEY | Yokosuka, Japan | 01/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pelle the Conqueror is an utterly flawless film with regards to acting, cinematography, score, storytelling, etc. It won Best Foreign Film honors at the Academy Awards and was even nominated for Best Picture. Of course, the politics of Hollywood could never have allowed it to claim that honor, otherwise a precedence would have been set of acknowledging that foreign films might be (gasp!) better than a lot of the [stuff] Tinseltown shovels out.Personally, I watched the Oscars that year exclusively to cheer for Pelle the Conqueror and even more specifically for Max Von Sydow, who turned in the performance of a lifetime. From the moment I began watching the film to the moment it ended, I never lost my sense of absolute immersion. It was, in truth, a grueling experience... because like so many Scandinavian films, Pelle is not a "feel good" story and doesn't have a happy ending. It doesn't have a happy beginning or middle, either. I'm straining my memory to remember a full happy minute, actually. Max Von Sydow is so thoroughly convincing as the widower father of 12-year-old Pelle Hvenegaard that I couldn't help but bear his anguish as all his hopes for a better life for his son get trampled. Even though I was fairly young when the film came out, Von Sydow led me to understand a poor father's burden. When I saw this movie in the theater in 1988, I was told by a friend it was "part one" and that the subsequent film would give viewers a little more resolution as young Pelle escapes to try to reach America... I waited and waited for that sequel, because I believed in these characters and wanted a better life for them; that's how powerful the film was to me.So why only 4 stars? Because the DVD (to date -- these things sometimes change) does not contain the whole film. 22 minutes were hacked from the original to fit into American time slots, and they were inexplicably not restored when the film went to DVD. The DVD also lacks special features such as "making of," background story, director's comments, etc. that would have been fascinating, especially considering this is such an epic foreign film from a country American viewers know so little about."
Hauntingly moving experience
R. Riis | NY | 03/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Moving Academy Award winning film about a Swedish widower and his son who emigrate to Denmark in the late 1800s to find work and a better life. What they find, though, is something else entirely. Brilliant performances by Max Von Sydow (an Oscar nominee for perhaps his greatest role as the widower) and 12-year-old Pelle Hvenegaard. This VHS version is in danish with English subtitles. Max Von Sydow dubbed his own role in the English language version (an option on the DVD version). At turns heart-rending and uplifting. Outstanding cinematography, filmed on location on the Danish island of Bornholm. One gripe : the original European release of this film was 160 minutes long; 22 minutes were cut for US release. Why couldn't those 22 minutes have been restored on either the VHS or especially the DVD? Most highly recommended!"
A movie for all children and adults
L. Cama | Towanda, PA USA | 02/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a truly great movie. It demonstrates human emotions on a grand scale. It takes place around the turn of the century. A father (played by Von Sydow) and his son Pelle (played by Pelle Hvenegaard) are forced to travel from Sweden to Denmark in order to leave a life of poverty and despair (Pelle's mother died). Pelle is only 12, and his father is over 50. Only reluctantly does a farmer hire them (the father is too old, and the kid is too young). Little did they know that the life in Denmark was physically harsh and emotionally draining. Prejudice was common against the foreigners. Pelle is very dependent upon his emotionally weak father who will not defend his son and likes alcohol.
In the end, Pelle demonstates his strength beyond most adult men.
This movie is directed and produced so clearly and accurately that it draws you into the the harsh, physically filthy and emotionally draining life on the farm. Since it is filmed over the course of about one year, you need not doubt that the georgous scenery is real. The blizzard, the ice, and the fields are real. In fact, Pelle Hvenegaard was named 12 years before the production after Pelle from the novel. Pelle is an uncommon Swedish name. His acting was so good that one forgets this was a movie.
The ending put me in tears. Although it was somewhat predictable, it still packed an emotional punch. It took my breath away.
I can recommend this Academy Award winning movie to anyone."
Best movie I have seen in a long time.
belwol | Phoenix, AZ USA | 09/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled into Pelle by accident in the Bravo Channel a few days ago. I have not been able to get Pelle out of my mind. It is a beautiful movie about the hopelessness of life as a worker in a farm in Sweden. Pelle, the stableman's son hears about America and it becomes his dream. The scenery, the actors, specially Pelle and his dad are excellent. I watched the English dubbed version. Dubbing was well done. I just found out this is an older movie which was just recently dubbed in English. The best movie I have seen in a long time."