Brothers - Between brothers

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German title Brothers - Between brothers
Original title Brødre
Country of production Denmark
original language Danish
Publishing year 2004
length 110 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Susanne beer
script Susanne Bier
Anders Thomas Jensen
production Peter Aalbæk Jensen
Sisse Graum Jørgensen
music Johan Söderqvist
camera Morten Søborg
cut Pernille Bech Christensen
Adam Nielsen

Brothers - Between brothers is a Danish feature film of director Susanne Bier from the year 2004 . The drama is based on an original script by Biers and Anders Thomas Jensens and was produced by the film studio Zentropa Entertainments , among others .


Believing that he was doing the right thing, Major Michael Lundberg, who successfully served in the military, flies with his company to the UN mission in Afghanistan to rebuild the war-torn country. In the last fourteen hours he had left, he picked up his brother Jannik, who was released from prison on the same day. The school dropout is the black sheep of the family. He was caught in a bank robbery. While Jannik was in prison, Michael met with the victim attacked by his brother. On the drive back home, he tells his younger brother about it and tries to get him to regret what he did. But Jannik is angry about the older man's interference, pulls the handbrake at full speed and disappears. Hours later, however, he shows up with his brother with a bouquet of flowers. To greet the one and to say goodbye to the other, a family dinner takes place, which is overshadowed by the allegations of the patriarchal father Henning and Janniks Jähzorn. At two o'clock in the morning Michael says goodbye to his wife Sarah and his two daughters Natalia and Camilla. Above all, the older Natalia is against her father's departure, which she clearly lets him feel. Just a few hours later, the major and his men are on the way to the Afghan base, where he must find out that a radar technician is missing. When Michael flies with some of his men in the helicopter to the scene to look for the lost compatriot, the helicopter is shot down and falls into a lake.

A short time later, two soldiers bring the news of the death of their husband and father to Michael's family. Sarah, who loved Michael very much, falls into deep grief. Jannik is shocked when he hears of his brother's death and drives drunk in the family car to his parents. His mother Else and his father Henning are also in shock. Else sorts out old LPs while Jannik's father gets drunk in mourning for his capable son. On the day of the memorial service, Sarah cannot believe that Michael is dead. In fact, her husband survived the crash seriously injured and ends up in captivity by the Taliban . Here he meets the lost radar technician Nils Petter, who was badly mistreated by the Islamist fundamentalists. While Michael is waiting for a chance to escape, Sarah is torn out of her agony at home in Denmark by the drunk Jannik: one morning she has to pay him the bill he made in a bar. At the suggestion of his domineering father, Jannik takes care of the kitchen, which Michael had to leave half-finished. Sarah and Jannik soon form a tender bond of friendship, and they give each other support and strength. Jannik finds a job with a friend who works as a craftsman and is deeply attached to Sarah: when they see their birthday present, a bicycle, they kiss each other. Jannik can't get used to the new situation and gets drunk, but thinks about it, returns to Sarah and finishes the kitchen. They both apologize to each other for the kiss and dismiss it as a one-time deal. Obviously, however, both thrive in this indefinite relationship.

Meanwhile, Michael explains to the Taliban how to operate a captured bazooka while in captivity and mentally straighten his Danish compatriot. Later, however, both are suddenly taken out of their shack and Michael is faced with a terrible decision by the Islamists: He should kill Nils Petter with an iron bar, since he is of no value to the Taliban as a radar technician without knowledge of weapons. For this Michael is promised life. Michael cannot withstand the psychological pressure and kills Nils Petter. A short time later, British soldiers capture the camp and free it. He denies having ever had contact with other captured soldiers. A little later he returns to his family in Denmark, who happily welcome those who were believed to be dead, but who have to recognize that he is traumatized by what he experienced in Afghanistan. He tells a friend from the military that he met Nils Petter while in captivity, but doesn't dare to tell about what he had to do to survive himself. At the same time, he observes Jannik and Sarah, who treat each other like teenagers in love on a trip to the ice rink. Michael asks his shocked brother whether he slept with Sarah, which Sarah vehemently denies.

When Michael asks Sarah the same question, she truthfully asserts that she remained loyal to her husband even after his supposed death. But she mentions the kiss she gave Jannik at her birthday party, to which Michael unexpectedly reacts with violence. Shocked by her husband's transformation, she tries to find out more about his experiences in Afghanistan from him, but he refuses to reveal anything. He secretly visits Nils Petter's widow, who has a son, and gives her hope that the radar technician is still alive. Michael's pent-up self-hatred finally discharges at Camilla's birthday party. Over dinner, the elder Natalia claims to the family that her uncle and mother have slept together regularly. Her returned father is frightening the children. You wish Jannik would take his place. On the same evening, the drunk Michael demolished the kitchen that Jannik had finished and threatens to kill Sarah and the children. In her need, Sarah calls Jannik by phone, who manages to involve his brother in a fight, while Sarah and the children flee. When the police arrive, Michael steals the pistol from an officer and orders the police to shoot him. The situation can be resolved without bloodshed and Jannik sets out to clean up the kitchen the next morning. While Sarah is showering, Jannik wants to go to her bathroom, stands in front of the door and thinks about knocking, but then decides to leave the house.

At the end of the film, Sarah visits Michael in the state prison. She knows that her marriage can only be saved if she learns what happened to Michael in Afghanistan. When she threatens to part with him forever if he doesn't finally tell her the truth, his inner resistance collapses. He lies crying on Sarah's chest.

History of origin

Brothers - Between Brothers is based on an original script written by Dogma filmmaker Susanne Bier together with director and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen . Bier had become aware of an article in which the US Army advised soldiers' wives not to change anything in their homes. At a party she told Jensen, with whom she had already worked on her hit film Open Hearts , about this motif, from which they began to develop the script. Bier, who grew up with two brothers, said he was always fascinated by the friendship between men or brothers, but affirmed that the story told in Brothers was fictional.

For the main roles of the brothers and sisters, the renowned Danish actors Ulrich Thomsen and Nikolaj Lie Kaas could be engaged , although physically and physiognomically not very similar, as Susanne Bier admitted . Both had already appeared together in front of the camera four years earlier in Anders Thomas Jensen's action comedy Flickering Lights . For the female lead, the Danish Connie Nielsen was won, who celebrated her international breakthrough in 2000 with the female lead of Lucilla in Ridley Scott's Oscar- winning monumental film Gladiator . Brothers - Between Brothers was Nielsen's first Danish film, although she was born in Denmark. Director Susanne Bier found that Connie Nielsen's accent sounded more Swedish than Danish and therefore gave her a few lessons in her native language. Nielsen had lived in the US for several years and rarely used her mother tongue in everyday life.

Filming began in September 2003 and ended the following November. The film was shot on original locations in Copenhagen , including the world-famous Tivoli amusement park . Susanne Bier insisted that the actors use as little make-up as possible and used the digital camera typical of the dogma film. However, it did not strictly adhere to the rules drawn up by Lars von Trier , Thomas Vinterberg , Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen in 1995 .


The film premiered in Denmark on August 27, 2004. In Germany, the film was shown a month later at the Hamburg Film Festival before it officially opened in German cinemas on March 31, 2005. The premiere in the USA took place in January 2005 at the Sundance Film Festival . The Dogma director's film was not a financial success, but both in Denmark and internationally it was in the favor of critics, who viewed Brothers as a remarkable psychological drama and the material with the story of Cain and Abel or compared to Greek tragedies . The focus was also on the performances of the actors, above all Ulrich Thomsen and Connie Nielsen as a married couple estranged from the war. According to Susanne Bier, who sees her film as a further development of Open Hearts , Brothers is a love story, but not in the traditional sense, but universally in a harsh and brutal world in which love is the only means to survive. She objected to having made a political film, but admitted that the work expressed her fear and concern about the war. Bier is convinced that after September 11, 2001, profound changes have taken place - one is no longer in a protected and privileged part of the world, and the war is no longer far from our own home.

In 2009 the American remake Brothers by Jim Sheridan was made , in which Natalie Portman , Toby Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal played the leading roles.

The Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason wrote the opera Brothers in 2017 with a libretto by Kerstin Perski based on the film plot. It was premiered on August 16, 2017 at Musikhuset Aarhus and subsequently shown in Iceland and Hungary.


  • "'Brothers - Between Brothers' ... is a remarkable film about the maddened fate and the predetermined breaking points of human existence, but also a touching consideration of the power of love, avoiding any slipping into a simple jealous drama. The characters are supposed to precisely and too complexly designed, the details conscientiously put together. Guilt, shame and atonement prevent the soldier from integrating into normality again as if nothing had happened and almost destroy the relationship between the married couple. Susanne Bier, her cameraman Morton Soborg wonderful Magic pictures with the digital camera, in this stylistically brilliant and emotionally gripping masterpiece you can feel deep sadness, but also hope for forgiveness. And for a tomorrow after the war. " (Focus: film)
  • "A meticulous, nuanced, incredibly powerful drama about an already fragmented family who is thrown into chaos by an apparent tragedy." (Hollywood Reporter)
  • "The captivating psychological drama by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier is her second film in which events worthy of a Greek tragedy are viewed through a contemporary therapeutic lens." (New York Times)
  • "... In view of this singular brutality, which Morten Søborg's camera soberly captures, the old" Dogma "films suddenly seem like harmless children's birthday videos. It's like a wake-up call: for ten years it was about the virtual corpses in the basement of Danish families, now received We are dealing with real dead in real crisis areas. The fact that the "Brothers" drama goes through its paces is thanks to the actors. First and foremost: Ulrich Thomsen, once again unbelievable as a traumatized soldier. Welcome to reality. " (The world)


  • During the church service for Michael's supposed death, the two front rows of pews are occupied by real army officers in their own uniforms - with the exception of actor Niels Olsen alias Colonel Allentoft.
  • In the scene in which Jannik learns of Michael's death, Nikolaj Lie Kaas does not play a drunk, but rather had actually given himself alcohol beforehand. Kaas thought he could make the scene that more convincing.


Susanne Bier's drama was considered one of the best Danish productions of the year and received several nominations for the award of the Danish Film Academy, the Robert , and the Association of Danish Film Critics, which award the Bodil every year . Although Brothers - Between Brothers with a Bodil for Connie Nielsen was awarded for Best Actress and Robert for Best Original Screenplay, Nikolaj Arcel's thriller King's Game was beaten in the “Best Film” category . At the 2005 European Film Awards ceremony , Brothers was the favorite with eight nominations, but was overshadowed by Michael Haneke's thriller Caché and could not prevail in any category. Ulrich Thomsen and Connie Nielsen also received Acting Awards at the San Sebastián International Film Festival , while the production was also awarded at the Sundance Film Festival and the Indianapolis International Film Festival .

European Film Award 2005

  • nominated in the categories
    • Best movie
    • Best director
    • Best script
    • Best Actor (Ulrich Thomsen)
    • Best Actress (Connie Nielsen)
    • Best film score
    • Audience Award - Best Actor (Ulrich Thomsen)
    • Audience Award - Best Actress (Connie Nielsen)

Bodil 2005

  • Best Actress (Connie Nielsen)
    • nominated in the categories
      • Best movie
      • Best Actor (Nikolaj Lie Kaas)
      • Best Actor (Ulrich Thomsen)
      • Best Supporting Actor (Bent Mejding)

Robert 2005

  • Best original script
    • nominated in the categories
      • Best Actor (Ulrich Thomsen)
      • Best Supporting Actor (Nikolaj Lie Kaas)
      • Best Supporting Actor (Bent Mejding)
      • Best movie song
      • Best cut
      • Best special effects


Créteil International Women's Film Festival 2005

  • Audience Award - Best Film

Hamburg Film Festival 2004

  • Critic award

Indianapolis International Film Festival 2005

  • Special prize of the jury for the acting ensemble (Connie Nielsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Bent Mejding and Nikolaj Lie Kaas)

San Sebastián International Film Festival 2004

  • Best Actor (Ulrich Thomsen)
  • Best Actress (Connie Nielsen)
  • nominated for best film

Sundance Film Festival 2005

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