Eric Cantona (Looking For Eric), Mads Mikkelsen (Charlie Countryman) and Eva Green joined forces to star together in the seemingly oxymoron of a Danish western in The Salvation (2014). Directed by Kristian Levring (The King Is Alive, 2000), who also co-wrote the film with fellow Dane, Anders Thomas Jensen, it’s got the hallmark of a classic, hard-bitten, gun firing wild west drama, and if it wasn’t for the fact that Clint Eastwood has had no part in the making of the film you could easily be fooled into thinking he was at the heart of it from the look of the trailer below.
Having premiered on the 17th May to a lot of critical acclaim at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the UK release date didn’t come to pass until the 17th April 2015, following on from the domestic release in Denmark on the 22nd May 2014. It was released in the US with limited screenings on the 17th February 2015, having been picked up for distribution by the President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films Jonathan Sehring.
It was subsequently released on digital download in the UK on the 10th August 2015, closely followed on DVD and Blu-ray on the 24th August 2015. It was made available in the US on DVD and Blu-ray on the 4th August 2015.
The plot focuses on the story of Danish settler, Jon (Mikkelsen), who looked to the United States for a new life following a crushing military defeat to Germany. The new start is tainted when his family come to join him on his homestead near Black Creek, in the thick of North America’s wild western era of the 1870s, after 7 seven years of toil and they’re killed by an ambush party. Tracking the attackers and avenging his family’s death by killing each and every one of the outlaws, he becomes a lone soldier once again.
However, the brother of one of the outlaws, the deadly land baron, Delarue, seeks his own revenge and sets out to hunt him down, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. With a large band of well armed and vicious man to face, including Delarue’s Corsican enforcer (Cantona), Jon finds the war he’d run from, only led to another thanks to the vengeance, pride and greed in the hearts of dangerous men.
Eva Green (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) has been cast in the role of Delarue’s widowed sister-in-law, Madelaine, and Danish singer-songwriter, Nanna Øland Fabricius (better know in the States as Oh Land) plays Jon’s short lived wife, Marie. It’s not the first time Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen have starred in the same film, having both been central characters in Casino Royale, but this time around there’s an element of a role reversal as Mikkelsen becomes the main protagonist and Green takes her complex delivery over to the darker side of town to begin with.
The film also stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Delarue, Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) as Jon’s brother Peter, Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) as the town’s undertaker and mayor, and Dougless Henshall as the cassock wearing town Sheriff.
The Salvation was produced by Sisse Graum Jørgensen, and executive produced by Peter Aalbæk Jensen and Peter Garde for Zentropa Entertainments in co-production with Spier Films from South Africa and Forward Films from the UK. It’s also had support from The Danish Film Institute, Danish Broadcasting Corporation and Nordisk Film in the run up to its creation, along with Film I Väst and the MEDIA programme of the European Union. The film made its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in the Out of Competition, Midnight section.
With a budget of just €10 million, The Salvation was a very impressive film with that went on to be as tense as the trailer suggested it was going to be. It’s destined to be a bit of a cult classic now that it’s landed on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download and with an exceptional cast, solid story and some flecks of brilliant cinematography. It’s been a while since a genuinely exciting western has been released, but it has set its sights on stacking up to the likes of High Noon and Unforgiven in the “man against mob” genre and done pretty well at living up to it. For anyone with the mildest penchant for western shoot-outs, it’s a must see film. Read our full The Salvation review for more details.