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Home Vision Entertainment presents
The Inheritance (Arven) (2003)

"You've got the ability. You were born to take this responsibility."
- Annelise (Ghita NÝrby)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: June 06, 2005

Stars: Ulrich Thomsen
Other Stars: Lisa Werlinder, Ghita NÝrby, Lars Brygmann, Karina Skands, Diana Axelsen
Director: Per Fly

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, some language and sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:54m:55s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 037429206126
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

A businessman is whisked into a hotel. Controlled chaos ensues. He is surrounded by hotel staff, who officiously update the magnate on travel arrangements and messages. The man seems satisfied, but quite distant. His demeanor conveys a sense of sadness, but this could easily be misinterpreted introversion, the consequence of a keen business mind. The man enters his hotel room. Pressed sheets and mints on the pillows; this is the lap of luxury, and the individual slowly unpacks, surveying his surroundings. Though the amenities are spotless, the unsettling mood continues. Looking out the window, the man is hypnotized by the traffic of downtown Stockholm; he is amidst teeming life, but solitude reigns.

This is Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen). Once a content, laid back restauranteur, he is a man faced with extraordinary circumstances. After his father, head of a lucrative steel manufacturer, suddenly dies, his mother calls upon her son to take over the firm. It is a position Christoffer is clearly uncomfortable with; his sister's husband, Ulrik (Lars Brygmann), is the next in line, but Christoffer's mother, Annelise (Ghita Nørby), does not trust an outsider to manage affairs. Christoffer's wife (Lisa Werlinder), a talented actress, is dismayed at this turn of events. Her life of artistic pursuits and peace has been disrupted by layoffs, mergers, and business demands—factors that create an ever increasing rift between herself and her overworked husband. Torn between his obligation to his wife and his family, Christoffer must make a choice, and face the consequences.

The Inheritance is a superb dramatic examination of the Scandinavian upper class (or any upper class, for that matter). This is not a condemnation of the business world, though it remains a shrewd examination of such. These are normal people placed in situations of magnitude; the kinds of situations that lead to irreconcilable conflict. Christoffer, expertly performed by Ulrich Thomsen, is a gentle man who is transformed into a hardened executive by the closing credits. It is a stunning transformation that remains thoroughly convincing. This is an account of a man's disintegration, all in the name of family duty. The talented supporting players, from Christoffer's wife to his manipulative mother, are grand forces of nature that play tug-of-war with a man whose spirit seems to have reached the breaking point.

Director Per Fly knows this is an actor's piece, allowing the performances to breathe within an air of improvisation. Scenes are at times sparse and affectingly introverted, and at others cracklingly intense. Admittedly, some moments may seem over the top, but they do not detract from the experience. Skillfully shot on video in a documentary style, the film has a vérité sense of immediacy, coupled with fine camera operation that always seems to lock in on the right composition. The fine Scandinavian locations shine throughout, accompanied by a lush, tasteful combination of symphonic and electronic score.

Regardless of the film's stylistic strengths, it is the strife of the inheritance that demands attention. Fly makes Christoffer a sympathetic character, though not one that earns our pity. His intentions are certainly for the best, but the situations depicted do not lend themselves to easy, clean resolutions. In a sense, Christoffer is forced into a state of moral relativism; in his view, heads must roll for the sake of the greater good. He weighs the consequences of his actions and tries to minimize the damage, even though cutthroat corporate policies call for something less merciful.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Shot on digital video (probably 24p—this looks amazingly film-like), the anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is excellent. Color and contrast are solid, and detail is high. You'll be hard pressed to find any major flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Danishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is subtle, but quite affecting. The mix is front-heavy, but the surrounds come to life for ambient fill and musical score support, which tends to extend into the LFE channel. Nothing showy, but a tasteful, immersing mix. A Dolby 2.0 track is also available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Per Fly
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert with an essay by Richard Schickel
Extras Review: The rather extensive extras begin with a feature-length audio commentary by director Per Fly. Fly offers his comments in his native tongue, so we non-Danes are presented with a clear English subtitle track. Early on, the director reveals this is the second film in a "class" trilogy, the first being The Bench, which investigated the lower class. The third, middle-class tale is in the works. Other comments are of the expected topics: production details and background info is plentiful. This is an informative track.

Next is a lengthy (54m:21s) making-of documentary, segmented into five sections: Improvisation reveals a last-minute recasting of the lead, and delves into the director's use of improvised scenes; Music is an interesting look at the film's unique, effective score, composed by Halfdan E; Learning to Do What You Have to Do discusses a quote from a speech by the late Danish Queen Ingrid, who said "You have to learn to want what you have to do"—a fine summary of Christoffer's strife; Locations, surprisingly, covers the film's locations, such as a stunning house on the coast of Portugal that stood-in for the south of France; The Realistic Camera features the film's shooting style, which employs multiple cameras and long lenses, giving the actors more freedom. These segments are populated with interviews with cast and crew, and some revealing behind-the-scenes footage.

Finally, an insert contains an essay by Richard Schickel, who also recognizes The Inheritance's strengths.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Per Fly's dramatic account of one man's torn obligations is strengthened by fine performances, a striking style, and a powerful script. Home Vision's quality presentation enhances the experience. "Learn to want" to see this standout film.

Highly recommended.


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