A FORTUNATE MAN
Per is the ‘Fortunate Man’ who escapes the severe, authoritarian rule of his father, a ‘fire and brimstone’ Lutheran minister, living in poverty in a rural Danish village. Per’s passion drives him to Copenhagen where he finds himself rubbing shoulders with the elite of high society. The vision of the bright student engineer captures the imagination of an influential Jewish family. The world is his oyster – ‘a fortunate man’ indeed!
The haunting question that grows slowly as Per rises to fame – will his life become a tragedy?
The ‘double-edged’ film is based on Danish writer and Nobel prize winner Henrik Pontoppidan’s (1857 – 1943) semi-autobiographical novel. The Director, Bille August creates swirling currents of psychological intrigue immersed in the fascinating social and historical life at the turn of the 20th Century.
The predominant question that occupied my mind - is Pers to be admired for his apparent relentless pursuit of integrity, or does it mask an ongoing fight with his father’s ghost. What really drives him?
Pers’s quest for freedom unfolds in a mix of striking contrasts. Ivan’s gracious and good-humoured nature stands against Per’s intensity. Jakobe’s caution and generosity is the antithesis of Per’s impetuosity and selfish ambition. The poverty of Per’s austere rural beginnings, is set against the grandeur and opulence of Denmark’s finest city. Can a man from impoverished beginnings triumph in the world of the wealthy?
The film, a little under three hours in length held my interest to the end. Well-developed characters set in scenes vivid with colourful costumes and open rugged countryside are stunning.
I enjoyed this humanistic piece and felt for Pers with his unspoken mantra - ‘be true to thyself’. Will he break free of his father’s chains, whose religion abhorred the temporal? His drive and courage to explore ‘unsacred earthly pursuits’, holding his integrity high, may be nothing more than a replica of his father’s rigidity.