The Kiss by Bille August

Facts

Original Title

Kysset

Genre (subgenre)

Drama, Period, Romance

Production Year

2022

Country of Origin

Denmark

Language Spoken

Danish

Length

110 mins

NOD

1st of July

Director

Bille August 
Scriptwriters
Bille August & Greg Latter (based on the book “Beware of Pity” by Stefan Zweig)

Cast

Esben Smed, Clara Rosager, David Dencik, Lars Mikkelsen

Production Company
Nordisk Film Production A/S

Producers
Thomas Heinesen, Lars Sylvest

Local release
2023 by Nordisk Film Distribution

Synopsis

On the backdrop of a lurking 1st World War, Anton is determined to bring his family’s name out of the dishonour his father left them in, by completing his education as a cavalry officer. One day on a drill Anton orders his platoon to help Baron von Løvenskjold and the Baron shows his gratitude by inviting Anton to dinner at the castle that same evening. At the dinner Anton meets the Barons daughter, Edith. Eager to make a good impression, Anton invites Edith to dance but he gets a big surprise when he realizes that she is in a wheelchair. Edith becomes miserable and Anton leaves the castle ashamed of his mistake, convinced that he ruined his chances with the Løvenskjold family. However, Edith can’t remember the last time someone addressed her without pity, and she quickly gets fond of Anton. Anton soon realizes the true nature of Ediths feelings, but he is uncertain if the feelings are reciprocated. With a constant desire of doing the right thing, Anton ends up trapped in promises, lies and responsibilities that grows out of his control, which could potentially end up with fatal consequences for everyone around him and himself.

Director

Bille August was born in Denmark in 1948. He is a danish director, screenwriter, and cinematographer. In the end of the 1960’s he studied at Christer Strömholm School of Photography in Stockholm and thereafter cinematography at the National Film School of Denmark. After graduating, Bille August worked as a cinematographer on 14 film and TV-productions, primarily in Sweden. His career as a director began with the films “In My Life” (1978), “Zappa” (1983), “Busters Verden” (1984) and “Tro, Håb og Kærlighed” (1984) but he became an established international director with the film “Pelle the Conquerer” (1987). The film received the prestigious Palme d’Or in 1988, together with an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best foreign picture. Only four years later, Bille August received another Palme d’Or for his film “The Good Will”, which is written by the acclaimed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.

Selected Filmography

1987: “Pelle the Conqueror” – Palme d’Or winner in Cannes in 1988 and the Academy Award and the Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film in 1989.

1991: “The Best Intentions” – Palme d’Or winner in Cannes in 1992.

1993: “The House of the Spirits” – Starring Meryl Streep, Glenn Close & Jeremy Irons.

1996: “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” – Starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris & Vanessa Redgrave.

1997: “Les Misérables” – Based upon Victor Hugo’s classic, starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman & Claire Danes.

2004: “Return to Sender” – Starring Aidan Quinn, Kelly Preston and Connie Nielsen.

2006: “Goodbye Bafana” – Starring Joseph Fiennes, Dennis Haysbert & Diane Kruger.

2012: “Night Train to Lisbon” – Starring Jeremy Irons,  Christopher Lee & Charlotte Rampling.

2014: “Silent Heart” – Starring Ghita Nørby, Paprika Steen, Danica Curcic & Pilou Asbæk.

2018: “A Fortunate Man” – Starring Esben Smed & Katrine Greis-Rosenthal.

2021: “Pagten” – Starring Birthe Neumann, Simon Bennebjerg & Asta August.

“The Kiss” sheds light to how well-functioning, extroverted and happy people take life for granted and love for granted, like a tribute, a duty owed to them, something in which they have a right to receive. It is different for the weak, the bullied, the exposed and the humiliated, “God’s step-children”. For them, love is a necessary replacement for what circumstance has eluded from them, what fate has taken from them, and to love and be loved is what justifies their existence. But, where only the unsentimental, engaged, the enduring, creating and compassionate empathy, makes equal love possible.

The story, and its theme about being an outcast, is more relevant than ever. Especially in today’s world, where bullying and exclusion unfortunately has become a part of our reality, it is imposing to describe the circumstances and necessities to healing, constructive sympathy and endless tolerance.

Even though “The Kiss” takes place in a historic environment, it’s definitely not the intention to make a “period piece”, a “costume drama”. On the contrary. The time, the period is simply thought as a grand, picturesque, cinematic backdrop, where the actual content, the form and the progressive style of storytelling is the bearing, present, energetic and irresistible element. Where aesthetic and moral – the visually fantastic and the life affirming drama – come together in a larger, ubiquitous entity, a matchless filmic universe.
Director's statement

Producers

Thomas Heinesen

Producer

Thomas Heinesen is educated from The National Film School of Denmark in 1989, and has been employed as a producer with Nordisk Film Production since the change of the millenium. He is one Denmark’s most experienced and respected producers, with his work varying from popular comedies such as “The Trouble with Terkel” and “Ditte & Louise”, as well as internationally acclaimed dramas such as “Worlds Apart”, “A Most Fortunate Man” and award-winning “Scandinavian Star”. He has worked together with directors such as Bille August, Amalie Næsby Fick, Niels Arden Oplev, Christina Rosendahl & Susanne Bier.

 

Lars Sylvest

producer

Founded Brass Hat Films in 2004. The company provided $380m to productions with 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Dreamworks, Lionsgate and MGM including Sandra Bullock’s “Premonition” (Columbia), Kurt Russel’s “Dreamer” (Dreamworks) and James Wan’s “Death Sentence” (20th Fox). In 2005, Sylvest and Ashok Amritraj founded Hyde Park International. The company produced 35 titles, incl. Nicolas Cage’s “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, Jennifer Aniston’s “Life of Crime” and Andrew Garfield’s “99 Homes”. Simultaneously, in 2006, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hypo Vereinsbank selected Sylvest to wind up VIP Medienfonds, the largest German Mediafunds with over €1.2bn film assets under management. 

 

Cast

Esben Smed

Anton

Smed is a Danish actor, who has received great acknowledgement since he graduated from The Danish National School of Performing Arts in 2013. Smed is widely known for his performance in Niels Arden Oplev’s “Daniel” (2019) as the Danish photographer held hostage in Syria for more than a year. Smed has earned both a Danish Academy Award and the audience award SVEND for this role. He has worked with Academy Award-winning director Bille August on several projects. In “A Fortunate Man” (2018). In “The Kindness of Strangers” (2019), Smed worked with director Lone Scherfig. On stage Esben has played roles such as Mordred and Hamlet at The Royal Theatre – where his performance in the latter got him a Reumert Award for Best Actor in 2021.

Clara Rosager

Edith

Rosager is one of Danish Cinema’s most promising new talents. She started her professional career in 2016 as one of the leads in the youth film “En-to-tre-nu!”. In 2018 she starred in the popular drama “The Purity of Vengeance” directed by Christoffer Boe. The following year Rosager was the female lead in Michael Noer’s masterpiece “Before the Frost” (2019), for which she was nominated Best Actress by the Danish Film Academy. Rosager has also attracted attention with roles in the popular Netflix series “The Rain” (2019-2020). Rosager also played Miss Sweden in the drama “Misbehaviour” (2020) opposite Kiera Knightley and Greg Kinnear and can be seen opposite Jared Leto in “Morbius” (2022). 

Lars Mikkelsen

Baron von Løvenskjold

Mikkelsen is a highly respected and critically acclaimed actor within the film and television industry, as well as a gifted award winning stage actor.
Recent film credits include “Winter Brothers”, “The Day Will Come”, for which he received both a Robert and a Bodil Award. For his performance as the notorious journalist, Martin Vinge, in “Headhunter” he received the Danish Film Academy Robert Award. In 2007 he received international attention and recognition from the Emmy nominated, Danish crime drama “The Killing”. Mikkelsen is best known to international audiences for his portrayal of Russian President Viktor Petrov in Netflix’s “House of Cards” and opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the latest series of “Sherlock” for the BBC. Mikkelsen’s most recent credits include the Netflix original “The Witcher”.

David Dencik

Doctor Faber

Dencik is one of Denmark and Sweden’s most versatile actors and has played major roles in both Scandinavian and international films, for which he has received several awards and accolades. Internationally, he is known for his roles in “No Time To Die” (2021), “Chernobyl” (2019), “McMafia”(2017), “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011) and David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011). For his performance in the series “The Chestnut Man” (2021) he received a Danish Film Academy Award and he was awarded a Swedish Film Academy Award in 2020 for his performance in “The Perfect Patient” (2019). Dencik has appeared in many other notable projects, including “The Kindness of Strangers” (2019), “Quicksand” (2019), “The Absent One” (2014), “Serena” (2014), and “A Royal Affair” (2012), among others.  

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