A War

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A War (Danish film)
A War poster.png
Film poster
Directed byTobias Lindholm
Produced by
  • René Ezra
  • Tomas Radoor
Written byTobias Lindholm
Music bySune Rose Wagner
CinematographyMagnus Nordenhof Jønck
Edited byAdam Nielsen
Distributed byNordisk Film Distribution
Release date
  • 27 August 2015 (2015-08-27)
Running time
115 minutes[1]
Box office$880,073[2]

A War (Danish: Krigen) is a 2015 Danish war drama film written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, and starring Pilou Asbæk and Søren Malling. It tells the story of a Danish military company in Afghanistan that is fighting the Taliban while trying to protect the civilians, and how the commander is accused of having committed a war crime.[3][4] The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.[5][6]


A Danish soldier in a squad patrolling Helmand province sets off an IED. He dies from horrific injuries while his commander, Claus, can do little to help back at base camp. After that Claus resolves to join his men on every patrol. After treating an injured little girl, the Afghan family comes to the Danish base because the Taliban has threatened to kill them for asking for help. Claus makes the decision to send them back to their village.

Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Claus' wife Maria is trying to hold everyday life together, with a husband at war and three children missing their father. The strain their father's absence takes on the family is seen as the burdens of parenting fall on Maria herself.

The next day, Claus and his men return to the village only to find the Afghan family they had helped earlier murdered in their home. Without warning, an ambush by insurgent forces ensues. Claus, in the confusion of battle, calls in an airstrike on a nearby compound, though he knows he lacks proper identification (PID) of the enemy combatants. This decision allows the Danish troops to retreat from their position without any loss of life. However, back at base, Claus is charged with the killing 11 innocent civilians and is sent home. The grave consequences of these accusations shake him and his family. Claus' defense lawyer asserts that he needs to claim that he had PID in order to avoid a prison sentence. Though he plans to admit his guilt, Maria angrily admonishes him for not thinking of his children's lives without a father. He decides to claim he called in an airstrike because he had PID.

Evidence mounts as Claus' men testify in court. His close friend and comrade, who had known him since boot camp, testifies that Claus, despite being a good officer, was feeling the strain of leadership and making rash decisions. In the witness box, Claus maintains his position. After being probed by the prosecution, he angrily declares that anyone who has never been in combat can never understand what it takes to make life and death decisions. Unexpectedly, Claus' former radio operator testifies that he identified muzzle flashes in the compound, giving Claus a plausible reason to call the airstrike. Though this evidence is dubious, it is enough to convince the judge and sub-committee that Claus had a legitimate PID.

Later while tucking his young son into bed, Claus notices how his son's feet resemble those of the murdered little girl in Helmand. He sits alone outside looking at the night sky.



The film was produced by Nordisk Film with support from DR TV and received eight million Danish kroner from the Danish Film Institute. Filming took place in Copenhagen, in Konya, Turkey and in Almeria, Spain. It ended in January 2015. With the exception of the main characters, the soldiers are played by actual Danish soldiers who had served in Afghanistan.[3]


A War received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 91% "Certified Fresh" score based on 90 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's consensus states: "Tense, intelligent, and refreshingly low-key, A War is part frontline thriller, part courtroom drama -- and eminently effective in both regards."[7] Metacritic reports an 81 out of 100 rating based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[8]

Olly Richards from Empire magazine gave the film four out of five stars saying "It's a riveting, complex film that asks one simple question: what do you do when there's no right answer?".[9] Clayton Dillard from Slant magazine gave it a mixed review: two out of four stars saying "Tobias Lindholm stages his claims through clunky dramaturgical scenarios, with the seams exposed at every turn."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A WAR (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  2. ^ "A War (2016) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Fiil-Jensen, Lars (4 November 2014). "Tobias Lindholms Krigen". Film Update (in Danish). Danish Film Institute. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Krigen". KINO.dk (in Danish).
  5. ^ Ford, Rebecca (14 January 2016). "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Tongue tied: Foreign film Oscar hard to call". BBC News. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  7. ^ "A War (Krigen) (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  8. ^ "A War". Metacritic. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  9. ^ http://www.empireonline.com/movies/war-3/review/
  10. ^ http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/a-war

External links[edit]