Brothers (2004 film)

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Poster from theatrical release
Theatrical-release poster
Directed bySusanne Bier
Produced byPeter Aalbæk Jensen
Sisse Graum Jørgensen
Written bySusanne Bier
Anders Thomas Jensen
StarringNikolaj Lie Kaas
Connie Nielsen
Ulrich Thomsen
Music byJohan Söderqvist
CinematographyMorten Søborg
Edited byPernille Bech Christensen
Adam Nielsen
Distributed byNordisk Film
Release date
  • 27 August 2004 (2004-08-27)
Running time
117 minutes

Brothers (Danish: Brødre) is a 2004 Danish psychological thriller war film directed by Susanne Bier and written by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen.[1] It stars Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Connie Nielsen and Ulrich Thomsen.[2]

The film was remade as an American production with the same title (2009), directed by Jim Sheridan.[3]


A Danish army officer, Michael (Thomsen), is sent to the International Security Assistance Force operation in Afghanistan for three months. His first mission there is to find a young radar technician who had been separated from his squad some days earlier. While on the search, his helicopter is shot down and he is taken as a prisoner of war, but is reported dead to the family.

His wife Sarah (Nielsen) and younger brother Jannik (Kaas) both deeply mourn him, and that brings them closer together. They kiss once, but pass it off as grief and do not pursue the relationship.

Meanwhile, both the officer and a young technician are locked up in a warehouse, kept without food or water. After Michael shows them how to arm and disarm an anti-aircraft missile, his captors decide the technician is no longer useful and have Michael bludgeon him to death with a lead pipe in order to save his own life. Eventually he is rescued and brought back to Denmark. The guilt of what he did forces him to lie and provide false hope that the technician may still be alive.

Michael becomes unstable, spiraling down into a pit of guilt and rage, and begins to threaten and abuse his wife and tear the house apart. It finally becomes necessary for the police to intervene. Michael overreacts, pointing a policeman's pistol at the officers. With Michael in custody, Jannik helps Sarah to begin the repairs to the house.

In the car, Sarah passes a sign reading Statsfængslet (National Prison). Her visit to Michael in prison finally forces him to admit the truth about Afghanistan.



The film was produced by Zentropa in co-production with companies in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway.[4] It received support from the Danish Film Institute, Swedish Film Institute and Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond (Nordic Film and TV Foundation). It was primarily shot on location in Copenhagen, Denmark; Almería, Spain, was used for the Afghanistan locales.[5]

Opera adaptation[edit]

An opera [de] entitled Brothers, based on the story of the film, was composed by Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason. It was premiered at the Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark on 16 August 2017. It was commissioned by Den Jyske Opera. The libretto was written in English by Kerstin Perski [sv]; the director was Kasper Holten. To celebrate Aarhus as the European Capital of Culture 2017, three stage works – a musical, dance, and an opera all based on films by Susanne Bier – were commissioned and performed in Musikhuset.[6]


  1. ^ Ebert, Roger (19 May 2005). "Brothers Movie Review & Film Summary (2005)". Roger Ebert. Archived from the original on 13 July 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  2. ^ Hjort, M.; Lindqvist, U. (2016). A Companion to Nordic Cinema. Wiley Blackwell Companions to National Cinemas. Wiley. p. 449. ISBN 978-1-118-47527-0. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  3. ^ Ritzenhoff, K. A.; Kazecki, J. (2014). Heroism and Gender in War Films. Palgrave Macmillan US. p. 156. ISBN 978-1-137-36072-4. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Brothers review". Sight and Sound. Vol. 15 no. 1–6. British Film Institute, British Institute of Adult Education. 2005. p. 45. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Brødre". Det Danske Filminstitut (in Danish). 1 July 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Kulturhaupstadt Aarhus – Uraufführung der Oper Brødre" [Cultural capital Aarhus – World premiere of the opera Brødre]. Deutschlandfunk (in German). 17 August 2017. Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.

External links[edit]