Very slow…but you do get boobs…

The above summary was provided by my lovely wife as she watched the movie with me. While I wouldn’t have exactly phrased it that way, it is to the point and I cannot deny this does, in an odd way, encapsulate what the movie. Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas is for the average viewer. It’s a shame, because I had expected more from this film since it stars a very exciting actor, the Danish man of many talents, Mads Mikkelsen–a guy you probably recognize but whose name you might not.

Mikkelsen has received a lot of attention in the States lately with his performance as the lead in the TV series Hannibal. His portrayal of the serial killer is far different from earlier ones–with a much more thoughtful and sophisticated persona than other Hannibals. Before this, he received a lot of publicity as one of James Bond‘s villains in Casino Royale. However, I have known about him long before this, as he’s been a star in Danish films for some time–and I really love Danish movies. Interestingly, here in Age of Uprising, Mikkelsen speaks French–not English or Danish. My daughter (a HUGE fan of Hannibal) did some research for me about this and found that the actor also speaks German and Russian! Wow…he certainly isn’t a dumb guy! But, he’s simply done many better films than this particular one.

The film is based on the true story of Hans Kohlhase—a 16th century rebel who, for a time, plagued Germany. His life was the basis of a novel by the German author Heinrich von Kleist and the story was first brought to film in 1969 as Michael Kohlhaas–der Rebell (starring the British actor David Warner).

When the story begins, a nobleman seizes some horses belonging to the merchant, Michael Kohlhaas. He had no legal basis for doing this but to make matters worse, he savagely sent his dogs on Kohlhaas’ servant and then mistreated the horses severely. In response, Kohlhaas sued the nobleman. Unfortunately, back in the day, life wasn’t necessarily fair–and Kohlhaas’ case was thrown out of court. Soon, Kohlhaas’ wife is murdered in retribution for the lawsuit. With no other apparent choices other than to just accept this injustice, Kohlhaas and his men go on a vigilante crusade–dispensing their form of justice through the countryside. What’s next? Well, you could watch the film…or just read Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, I’d recommend the latter. Why? Because the story IS an interesting case of class warfare and should have been exciting–sort of like a German version of Braveheart. Unfortunately, it’s not. The film is tedious and extremely bereft of life when it should have been inspiring and exciting. The musical score is extremely stark and minimalistic–adding to the tedium that you see on the screen. The movie manages to make the least of the great source material.

The bottom line is that I loved Mads Mikkelsen’s work…just not this particular film. My advice is to try watching his best films–such as his Oscar-nominated movies The Hunt and After the Wedding as well as Flame and Citron. These are truly exceptional and show off Mikkelsen’s immense talents to their fullest.

by Martin Hafer