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Home > Mads Mikkelsen Brings the Chaos in the First Trailer for “The Promised Land”

Mads Mikkelsen Brings the Chaos in the First Trailer for “The Promised Land”

Promised Land

Life is Chaos

A Great Dane

When one hears about a Great Dane, one may picture the canine gentle giant. However, this article is about a different great Dane: Mads Mikkelsen. 

Mikkelsen stars as Captain Ludvig Kahlen in Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel’s The Promised Land. Arcel wrote the screenplay with Anders Thomas Jensen and based it on the widely-acclaimed novel Kaptajnen og Ann Barbara (“The Captain and Ann Barbara.”)

Mikkelsen is known for vacillating between mega films like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) and smaller films from his native homeland. In Arcel’s historical drama, he’s going back to his Danish roots. His very strong roots – not a bald spot to detect in that voluminous landscape.

So, What’s it About?     

It’s 1755, and a poor captain, Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen), attempts to build the King’s first settlement on the barren Danish heath. When one sees the word heath, one may assume Kahlen is trying to capitalize on constructing something based on a heath bar – like Hershey’s did when they built that weird theme park one’s parents dragged them to in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But this is the other kind of heath – uninhabitable land with insufficient vegetation. The type that doesn’t cause diabetes.

What Happens in the Trailer?

Throughout the trailer, there are intercuts of men tilling land. Beneath the 18th-century clothing that extends up the men’s necks, one can still detect some musculature. Or at least imagine it’s there. One may wonder if they’re exaggerating the difficulty of cultivating the heath, like when a man claims he’s sick, but the only concrete diagnosis is man flu.

The Promised Land

Anyway, the cinematography is fantastic – shot in the Czech Republic and Denmark. What’s even more stupendous is a brief interlude of a man howling like a wolf toward the sky. With zero context. Harkening back to the intoxicated Best Man Steve Buscemi in The Wedding Singer (1998).

Besides the unique visuals and howling sounds, the main takeaway from the trailer is that Captain Kahlen believes that “god put man on the earth to create civilization.” For environmental conservationists, Kahlen could be perceived as an enemy of nature akin to the protagonist in There Will Be Blood (2007), except Kahlen isn’t a Daniel-Day-Lewis-oil-man, he’s a Danish heath man.

A Triangle of Madness

Not only does Kahlen face problems with the land, but his personal life is rife with complications – a rivalry with the sadistic ruler of the land, Frederik De Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg), and a lurid affair with the landowner’s hot wife, Ann Barbara (Amanda Collin) – making for a triangle of madness. However, the one person he can’t get any attention from is the King. At one pivotal moment, Kahlen is told: “Stop acting like you know the King.” Kahlen should know that mixed signals from a man mean a definite no, but he’s so desperate for the King’s validation that he allows the breadcrumbing. Or, more specifically, heath seeding.

“Life is Chaos”

The intricate set design pieces and the palpable tension between the leads could easily transport one back to another Mads Mikkelsen helmed role in the excellent series Hannibal (2013-2015.) His playful friction with Hugh Dancy led viewers to contemplate whether they would bang at some point.

Ok, so maybe there’s not an identical sexual dynamic here in this historical epic drama, but there sure is a lot of chaos. And a little chaos from Mikkelsen is immensely exciting to watch. 

The Promised Land will be released in Denmark on October 5th, giving one adequate time to befriend a Danish person so they can steal their VPN. 

The Promised Land

The Promised Land (2023) Official Zentropa Entertainment Film

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Laura is a screenwriter and script consultant based in New York. She has a penchant for absurd comedy and psychological thrillers.
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