《At the 9th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF), A Fortune Man was awarded the Tiantan Award for Best Feature Film, which raised the reputation of the Danish renowned director Bille August among Chinese audience. The director, featuring the style of Swedish master director Ingmar Bergman, won Palme d'Or at the The Festival de Cannes twice. At his 70s, a new masterpiece was presented.
Bille August is a student of the world-renowned Swedish film master Ingmar Bergman. After his graduation he returned to Denmark to create his films. His films Pelle the Conqueror (1988) and The Best Intentions (1992) were granted the Palme d'Or, which made him an international famous film director.
August has had a connection with China since the Organizing Committee of the 7th Beijing International Film Festival has invited him as a jury member of Tiantan Award. This year, the Asian premiere of his A Fortunate Man took place at the 9th BJIFF and won Tiantan Award for Best Feature Film.
The film was adapted from novelist Henrik Pontoppidan’s work of the same name. Before A Fortune Man, Pontoppidan had just finished his trilogy work The Promised Land, which won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917.
A Fortune Man is based on Pontoppidan’s experience. The protagonist was born in Jutland in Western Denmark like the author and also study science and engineering in Copenhagen. He is young and enthusiastic but fails to realize his ambition. He tries to persuade people to support him for his engineering project but was refused. So he returns to hometown and lives a peaceful life.
Director August resonates with such a classic realistic novel that describes the conflict between idea and reality. At his 70s he keeps on creating and succeeds in bring the classic novel onto cinema screen upon unremitting efforts.
The film features a cold and serious keynote like August’s films always do to express his philosophical contemplation. And the fresh and idyllic shooting enriches the film’s connotations. A Fortune Man is an epic of individual. To display Per ’s legendary life, the film runs almost 3 hours. The protagonist is a young man with self-conflict. He has once tried to escape the Christian culture he was taught and seek to realize himself in the world. He despises corrupt collusion between businessman and the government but has to rely on them to organize his work. He has great ideals and lofty characteristics. People are fond of him but don’t understand him. He cherishes his love but fails her out of the hurt of his childhood.
The film involves social transformation under the background of Denmark’s industrialization in 1910s. It depicts the conflict between new intellectuals like Per and traditional political and mercantile power, contrasts the rural landscape and the modern metropolis and vividly tells how an idealist pursue progress to fight against a society of rigid stubborn tradition. And finally the protagonist returns to his countryside to realize self-redemption and makes his peace with himself.
One of the themes of the film is the discussion of the relationship between fortune and happiness. At first Per thinks happiness is the result of success and self-actualization. After a series of experience he realizes that happiness can be independent from luck of success. He returns to hometown not because he fails but he succeeds in understanding the meaning of life in a new way.
The protagonist was starred by Danish actor Esben Smed Jensen who has received great attention in recent years. He won Robert Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the TV series Bedrag in 2016 and was honored as the Shooting Star at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2017. In A Fortune Man, he plays Per in different phases of life, such as suffering and confusion as an ambitious young man and the persistence of realizing his dream.
The film presented the great creativity and competence of the director as he completed a broad and profound masterpiece based on an excellent literature. He continues focusing on complicated contradictory inside humanity., ponders individual’s struggle with the society and time, and exploits the true himself and retrospection. This film proved his consistent master mind and artistic pursuit, which is totally valuable. A Fortune Man, with its humanistic concern and soul exploration, is one of the masterpieces worth watching at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival.