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aka - Pelle Erobreren
Sweden 1988
Directed by
Billie August
145 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Pelle The Conqueror

Immigrant stories, understandably enough, often are about dewy-eyed hopes dashed, the harsh realities of being a stranger in an inhospitable land and the protagonist's determined responses to them. For better or worse, Pelle the Conqueror, based on a novel by Martin Andersen Nexø and which won the 1988 Cannes Best Film Award, and deals with Swedish labouring emigrants who in the late 1890s come to Demark looking for work, is a quality example of the genre,  albeit a tad too long.

While director August who also penned the screenplay displays a flair for the visual style appropriate to the historical epic (cinematography was by Jorgen Persson), Max Von Sydow gives an empathetic performance as the young Pelle's ineffectual, none-too-bright but good-hearted father and Pelle Hvenegaard, (who was named after Nexo's novel) carries off the title role with assuredness.




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