Monday, July 4, 2022

Borgen

 There are lots of films about power struggles, but "Borgen" (2010-2022) is unique.  A relatively little country, it would seem Denmark's maneuvering  would have little consequence on the world stage.  Relatively speaking that is true, but there is much to commend "Borgen. 

Denmark is a country with proportional representation.  In all countries there are diverse political perspectives ranging from conservative to liberal, meaning there are people who feel more comfortable with traditions and there are those who feel there are too many restrictions and inequality.  And there are shades in between and at the margins.  In Canada the power of the government is determined by who can garner the most ridings (won with a plurality) with the non winners being kept to the sidelines.  Proportional representation contains the same sorts of diverse opinions, but unless one party can gain over 50% of the votes they are forced to deal with one another.  There definitely are power struggles, but imagine members of more than one party are in the government, making decisions, but having to be concerned daily what their opposition wants, unlike here in Canada?  When the individuals realize the need to work together there is stability, but humans being what they are some are always trying to find an edge.

The series acknowledges that the media is very key to what people think.  What facts to reveal and how to present them?  Most political shows are aware that the media does influence politics and many do a good job.  "Borgen" goes a little further showing how the media and government inter act.  The media has its own power struggles and their own personal hangups.

The fourth season identifies the biggest power struggle the world now faces; climate change versus the vested interests.  Denmark likes to paint themselves as global leaders for climate change and claiming and actually helping Greenland to independence find themselves in an international dilemma.  Oil has been discovered in Greenland and Denmark finds itself dealing with foreigners (and citizens) who want to exploit it.  The Greenlanders want to use this new resource to accelerate their independence.  Within the Danish government the main character, Birgitte Nyborg the foreign secretary wants climate change to prevail while the prime minister and others see this as very fortunate opportunity to profit.  Other nations are very interested and take sides.  The real battle is between environmentalist and corporations with vested interests.  China, U.S. Russia all try to control oil.  How does one maintain their power in these volatile times?

The elements are there and the producers of "Borgen" very capably turn them into an engaging entertainment that hopefully makes the public more conscious not only of the most pressing issue of our time, but also that power struggles will help decide what solutions get advocated and implemented. 

Birgitte Nyborg is the focus who starts as a well intentioned woman who wants to make the world a better place.  She realizes that nothing gets done without power and there a lot of competing people with their own agenda.  In the first three series she achieves being Prime Minister and later resigns.  The show was so popular that they brought a fourth series and brings us to a critical point.  Under the Danish electoral system and as the head of her party she has been able to demand the position of Foreign Secretary.  A core principle for her has been to deal with climate change.  When oil is discovered in Greenland her first response is to tramp it down.  We soon learn the Russians are involved with a drilling team and later we learn that it is actually the Chinese.  She is put in an awkward situation and considers resigning, then realizes that she will just be replaced by someone more amenable to exploit the oil.  She could at least mitigate the damage.  Lots of machinations needed to placate her party, international players and her government.  The end is handled nicely, but you really should see the whole series to appreciate it.

At the same time running parallel to the government we are shown how the media tries to uncover the facts.  Katrine Fonsmark began as a reporter who had an affair with a politician (who died) and worked for a bit with Birgitte and later became an ambitious tv. executive.  When we reach the fourth series she has been elevated to a top position in a news station.  There are conflicts among the staff and many arguments about how the news should be covered.  Over the whole series we learn that politicians and the media have understandings and do each other "favors."  At the same time they also have their rivals in the form of other stations.  As with the politicians we are made aware of personal relationships.

It has a very complex plot with sharp dialogues.  Below are a few tidbits about some of the people who made it worth your time. 

Adam Price was the creator and writer.  It is an English sounding name because some of his ancestors moved from London in the late 18th century.  He started writing for television in the 1990's and was part  of a few international hits.  He created "Borgen" in 2010 and it has garnered international awards and been telecast to over 70 nations.  Aside from writing for several of the scripts he was also executive producer for 8 episodes.  Another big interest is cooking and for over 10 years with his brother James he has hosted a popular cooking tv. show as well written a few cookbooks.

Among the many writers Tobias Lindholm has had some memorable film credits such as "The Hunt" (2012), "A Hijacking" (2012). "A War" (2015) and Oscar winner  "Another Round" (2020).   Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/06/another-round-picks-up-oscar.html

Among the producers Stine Meldgaard Madsen has film credits, "After the Wedding" (2006) and "The Chestnut Man" (2021).

Sidse Babett Knudsen  played Birgitte Nyborg, one time Danish Prime Minister and later Foreign Secretary.  She received her acting training in France, although at first knowing little French.  Based on her role in "Borgen" she was listed among Hollywood Reporter's 25 most powerful women in Global Tv.  Previous films include "After The Wedding" (2006), "A Hologram for the King" (2016), "Roadkill" (2020) and one episode of "Ted Lasso" (2021).  

Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, the other main female lead  played Katrine Fonsmark, a journalist with her own personal problems and power struggles.  She played a lead role in the Copenhagen and London stage productions of "Chicago."  As with other actors she was allowed to make comments as the writers planned future episodes of "Borgen."

Mikkel Boe Folsgaard played an agent for Birgitte going back and forth with Greenland.  His screen credits include:  "A Royal Affair" (2012), "Land of Mine" (2015) and "The Chestnut Man" (2021).

Soren Malling played a television executive, at one time Katrine's boss and later she became his boss .  His film credits include:  "A Hijacking" (2012) and "A War" (2015). 

Denmark has long hit above its weight.  This is one more example.

The first mention of films I have seen are bolded.

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