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The Salvation (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 93 minutes.

Not for children.

When Clint Eastwood was a supporting actor in the TV series Rawhide, he took his summer vacation in 1964 to go to Italy to make a movie called A Fistful of Dollars for Italian director Sergio Leone. In the summer of 1965 he went back to make For A Few Dollars More. When the star of Rawhide, Eric Fleming, departed the show in 1965, Eastwood took over as the trail boss but the show was summarily terminated in January 1966. So that summer Clint returned to Italy to make his third and last film for Leone, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

These films, which became known as Spaghetti Westerns, were so popular that they made Eastwood into a movie star. He followed up with Hang ‘em High, Coogan’s Bluff, and Where Eagles Dare in 1968 and he was on the road to fame and fortune.

I go into all that because, even though it’s a Danish film with an international cast headed by Danish superstar Mads Mikkelson, this is in the grand tradition of Sergio Leone and his Spaghetti Westerns set in the American Old West but shot in Europe. This film was shot primarily in the U.K. and South Africa.

Mads Mikkelsson is a Danish immigrant to the Old West. He brings his wife, Marie (gorgeous Nanna Øland Fabricius, a popular Danish singer) and son over to join him and disaster happens almost immediately. It becomes a tale of violent revenge pitting truly evil bad guys, led by the hateful Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan in an unforgettable turn), versus Mads and his brother, Mikael Persbrandt. They are in a bad position due to the cowards who inhabit the town, led by the Mayor, Keane (Jonathan Pryce) and the Sheriff, Malick (Douglass Henshall), who kowtow to Delarue, regardless of how brutal his orders.

Tightly directed by Kristian Levring from a script by him and Anders Thomas Jensen, and obviously influenced by director Fred Zinnemann and writer Carl Foreman’s High Noon (1952), the film is enriched by a fine score by Kasper Winding that keeps the tension at a fever pitch. Eva Green gives a fine performance as Madelaine, an enigmatic woman who never says a word.