Flugten (The Escape) (2009)
Director: Kathrine Windfeld.
Starring: Iben Hjejle (Rikke Lyngvig), Lars Mikkelsen (Thomas Jargil), Faegh Zamani (Nazir Osmani), Henrik Prip (Arne Hansen), Sonja Richter (Sara Jargil), Vibeke Hastrup (Hanne Hvidtfeldt), Søren Spanning (Jesper Bech), Mikael Birkkjær (Claes Kielland), Søren Sætter-Lassen (Steffensen).
female Danish journalist taken hostage in Afghanistan and the terror group threatens to kill her if Denmark does not remove its troops from Afghanistan
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film. Curse words.
In Afghanistan a young man named Nazir is watching a Danish journalist named Rikke Lyngvig. She gets into a car and interviews a man in the back seat as the car rumbles through the town streets. All of a sudden a car comes out in front of their car and the driver has to stop quickly. Gunmen with masked faces grab Rikke out of the car and put her on the ground. The man in the back seat with the journalist steps out of the car and is pushed back inside. The gunmen inject something into the journalist's body and she is placed into a birqa that covers her entire body.
The gunmen drive to an abandoned building and take Rikke inside. She is unconscious and left in a room with nothing in it except a blanket covering part of the floor. Her body is laid down on the blanket. One of the gunmen, Nazir's uncle, tells Nazir that the journalist is his responsibility so he better not let her escape. Nazir looks at her passport and her press pass. She starts to awaken and Nazir quickly leaves the room. He comes in later to sit down with an AK-47 in his hand.
Rikke awakens fully and sits up. Nazir offers her a cigarette and she takes it. Later they take her to another room where she is told to read a statement.
Watching television a Danish girl with her sister at breakfast tells the two adults with her: "Look, Mom!" The fellow at the table seems to recognize the voice and turns to see the television. Rikke's statement says that the Danes, as a member of the coalition, must remove their troops from Afghanistan or she will be killed. Other Danish people also see the reading of the statement.
Rikke is taken back to her room. She pleads with her guard to let her go, to tell her what they are going to do to her and, at least, let her know the name of her guard. She goes over to the window but sees that it is covered with iron bars. She picks up a rock on the floor, goes to sit down and places the rock underneath her the jacket she holds in her lap.
A young Afghan man asks Nazir if he knew that his uncle killed the interpreter and his family who were in the car with the Danish journalist? Nazir seems surprised because his uncle told him that they only really needed the woman. Now Nazir wonders what is going to happen to the Danish journalist. Nazir asks where is Denmark? The other fellow says it is someplace in Europe.
A Danish commentator on Danish television says that there's not much Denmark can do about the kidnapping. There is a real fear that Rikke could be killed by her kidnappers.
Nazir bring food and water. She downs the water and asks him to bring her some more please. When Nazir goes out of the room, she grabs her rock and tries to get into a position where she can knock her guard out with the rock. But Nazir comes in before she is in position and she has to run back to the blanket and sit. She dropped the rock along the way. Nazir picks it up and tells her: "They kill you if you try it." Rykke nods her head. She tries to engage him in conversation. Nazir tells her that American soldiers came and it was three soldiers against one Afghani. His father was a school teacher and knew English. He tried to intervene and they shot him down for no reason. His father died in the street in front of everyone.
Rikke asks him if his father would have wanted him to be doing what he is doing now? Nazir says his uncle wants it. She says she's sure that his father was a good man and that he (Nazir) is also a good man. Nazir gets angry and knocks her dinner plate out of her hands. He says: "You don't know anything."
At night Rikke looks through the window. She sees the face of a Muslim woman across the way. When the Muslim woman sees the European woman, she covers her face completely with the burqa. Rikke is upset that she couldn't make any kind of contact with the woman. She steps away from the window and cries.
The Danish newspaper "Morgentidende" says there has been no sign that Rikke is alive after ten days. The father of the Danish family we met at the start of the film works overtime on the case of a man who became psychotic in isolation. His wife wears a sexy outfit for him, but he can't get away from his work. He tells his wife that he must be through with this by tomorrow morning. She says she will be asleep in ten minutes. The husband promises that he will be right there. Another thing he is fretting about is the missing Danish journalist.
Uncle tells Nazir that he will have the honor of killing the journalist for vengeance for the death of his father. Nazir replies: "But it's just another dead journalist. No one can see the difference anymore. Not even BBC will air it." His uncle admits that Nazir might be right. So he says that he must think of something new to attract world attention.
Rikke has to be present when another statement is read. It says that the Danish don't care about their Danish journalist. "They have ten days to meet our humble demands." Each day they are going to take off one finger from Rikke. "Ten days, ten fingers." Nazir is now given the job of cutting off one of the fingers belonging to Rikke. He cuts the finger off. Nazir then runs out of the room and throws up over the side of a cliff. Rikki's left hand is bandaged up. She is given some pain medication for her suffering. Rikke thanks the man who gave her the pain killing injection.
Nazir is out tending his sheep. Later he goes into Rikke's room and removes her handcuffs. He says that he didn't want to hurt her. He was forced to cut her. Nazir wants to help her escape. He gives her some provisions and some instructions of which way to go to get away. He also tells Rikke that when she gets to Denmark, she is not to say that someone helped her escape. If she does, the other Afghanis will surely kill him. She agrees. He gives her the stone and tells her to hit him twice in the head very hard.
Rikke reluctantly hits the young man in the head twice. The second blow knocks him out. She handcuffs him to a wall and leaves the room. She gets out of the compound and now has to figure out how she will get over the mountains.
Uncle does not believe Nazir's story and pistol-whips him. He now tells everyone that they must leave their hiding place.
Rikke walks along the road and goes to the town of Lashkar Gah. She is picked up by the Danish military. At Danish military headquarters Rikke asks about the interpreter she interviewed. She is told that he didn't make it. In fact, they found all the family bodies in a ditch. The officer wants to know how she escaped? She says she knocked the guard out, took the key and escaped. The officer is skeptical, saying: "I've never heard of anyone escaping from the Taliban."
Denmark. Rikke arrives by a military plane. There are only three passengers on the plane, one of which is Rikke. She goes before a press conference. She covers for Nazir as she agreed to do.
Rikke comes back to her apartment. She turns on her recorder connected to her telephone. She got a call from Thomas. He doesn't say much, but he does ask her to give him a call.
The next day she reports to work. The supervisor tells her to take it easy on herself, but she keeps insisting that all she wants to do is get back to her work.
She comes in to tell the boss that she will write a summary of the details of her story. But then she wants permission to work on stories about refugees. Furthermore, she is writing a book about her thoughts on the war in Afghanistan.
A male colleague named Arne on the elevator with Rikke tells her that she was always one to get publicity for herself. But she better be a fine reporter, if she is going to live up to all the publicity she is going to receive. Rikke is not pleased by his comments.
At home Rikke works hard. At work Rikke works hard. She goes on a television debate showdown on whether or not the Danish government should grand asylum to those translators who worked to help the Danish government with its tasks in Afghanistan. The debate is rough on the government spokeswoman because she is a sensitive person. She sees Rikke in the restroom and tells her that: "In this case, my hands are tied. Our supporting party won't accept it." She says she can only help people if she has political support. And in this case she doesn't have it. Rikke leaves rather than continue the debate.
Now uncle tells Nazir that he believes his story about not helping the journalist to escape. He then says that Abduljabar Khan was just appointed Home Secretary. He has only brought one guard with him. He wants Nazir to assassinate him. All of a sudden an explosion goes off. Uncle is badly wounded, along with a lot of others, some of whom were killed. Uncle tells Nazir to go get help. Instead, Nazir takes the man's wallet. He now asks his friend nearby: "Are you coming?" He and his friend run away.
Rikke is somewhat isolated from others. One day the dad of the Danish family the film first introduced to us comes into the press office. He is Thomas. He walks over to Rikke. He asks her why she won't return his calls? She says she has been working non-stop ever since she came back to Denmark. Thomas just sits down by her desk saying that he will wait for her to have some time for him. Now he asks her to come for a walk with him. It's just a walk. So Rikke goes with him.
He tells her how frightened and shocked he was to hear and see her on television. Thomas says he thought he was going to lose her for sure. Rikke objects that they haven't seen each other for years now. And now he has a wife and children to think about. She says when they were first together, she didn't really want to start anything serious. And now she just doesn't know what she wants. He tries to kiss her, but she backs up. But just a little later they hug each other and kiss.
Thomas and Rikke have sex together. (no nudity) Afterwards, she starts crying. She tells Thomas that she was so afraid that she was going to die in Afghanistan. In her mind she kept seeing the films of the Talbian decapitations. She says the last image in her head was of Thomas. "Then you turn up out of nowhere." Thomas says he never meant to upset her. And now he is married and they can't have sex again.
Nazir and his friend are now in Turkey traveling on the back of a truck carrying goats. His friend asks Nazir what are they doing here in Turkey? Nazir says he is going to go to Denmark. They try to get a little money by collecting cans, but some Turkish toughs rob them of the cans and then kick them around on the ground. So now Nazir wants he and his buddy to jump on a truck headed north into Europe. Nazir also asks his friend if he thinks Rikke will help them? The friend says yes, because Nazir saved her life.
The fellows walk onto an overpass over the highway. They prepare to jump onto the roof of a truck going around 50 miles per hour. They wait for the right truck and then jump. Nazir lands on top of the truck, but his friend falls off the back of the truck and is killed by a truck running over him. Nazir cuts the canvas over the back of the truck and goes inside to lay on top of a lot of boxes. He cries about the loss of his friend.
When the truck stops at a trucker stop, Nazir jumps off the truck. He looks around and sees a truck saying transport for Denmark and Stockholm at stokholm.com on it. He gets onto this truck.
One day Rikke comes home at night. She has a package by her door. In the box are copies of her new book
Nazir makes it to Denmark. He gets a place to stay, probably with the help of social services. A young woman asks Nazir: "You cannot sleep?" Nazir shakes his head no. Nazir asks the woman how long has she been in Denmark? She says she has been here five years. The young lady arrived when she was twelve. She came from Iraq and her name is Roya.
Arne, the colleague who is critical of Rikke, is given the assignment to read Rikke's new book and then to interview her for a full page report. He is not happy about it and asks the editor: "Do people never get tired of her?" The editor says "no".
The reporter visits with Rikke on her new boat. A photographer takes photos of her for the article. The one thing the reporter is concerned about is that he never heard of anyone having escaped the Taliban, at least not without help.
At the center where Nazir is staying, he uses the computer to google Rikke Lyngvig. Nazir sees some officials approaching the center and he is worried about being sent back home. The woman who runs the center tells Nazir to relax because today only the Iraqis are being sent home. This, however, makes Nazir worry about the fate of his Iraqi friend. He runs as fast as he can to tell her that the Iraqis are being sent back. She immediately throws some clothes in a bag and is going to go out a window. Nazir says he's going with her, but she tells him no, because he still has a chance of getting asylum. As she climbs out the window she asks if Nazir could slow the policemen down a bit? He says yes and then he tells her that he will see her again.
Nazir stands in front of the police with a glare on his face and with his piercing blue eyes. One of the policemen tells him: "Looks like a big Viking once fucked your mother." Nazir gets his revenge when he knees this fellow to slow him down. He then dashes over to the fence and goes over it. A German shepherd dog is released by the police and he chases after Nazir. The dog grabs his arm and Nazir grabs a rock and hits the dog several times on the head. The dog is either unconscious now or dead.
Thomas telephones Rikke. He says he misses her. She tells him to go to his wife and family. Nevertheless, soon Rikke and Thomas are in Rikke's apartment having sex. (not shown, no nudity) Rikke asks Thomas if he loves her and would he be willing to leave his wife for her? They are interrupted by a phone call It's Nazir. She is absolutely shocked. Rikke is even more shocked when he tells her he is in Denmark. Thomas goes with Rikke in her car to find Nazir. Thomas asks her why would she want to help someone who tortured her? The man, he says, is extremely dangerous. Rikke replies that Thomas is just going to have to trust her on this.
The three meet on a bridge. Nazir asks for her help because he saved her life and because, if she doesn't help him, he will be killed. Rikke says: "Yah, okay." Thomas asks Rikke what is happening here? Rikke tells him: "I had to lie." She turns around and goes with Nazir. He stays in her apartment. Thomas is also there. As a lawyer, he tells Rikke: "You must come forward." She responds that they will send Nazir back to Afghanistan if she does that. Thomas disagrees. He thinks she should tell the whole story and that will give Nazir a chance to get asylum.
Rikke now disagrees with Thomas. She says everyone is going to see Nazir as just another terrorist. Thomas replies: "You owe it to him to try." Thomas leaves.
Arne sees in the newspaper an article and photos of Nazir and Roya being on the run. He starts to connect Nazir from Afghanistan with Rikke. On the back of Rikke's book cover is a photo showing the upper part of Nazir's masked face. The journalist sees that the two photos match up. The fellow was in Afghanistan with Rikke. Arne takes his camera with him and leaves the office.
Rikke tells Nazir that he cannot tell anyone that they know each other. She says her career will be over as a journalist, if they know she lied about her escape from Afghanistan. Nazir doesn't say anything, but it's apparent that he is bothered by this situation. She tries to console him, probably without any real success.
When Rikke pulls out with Nazir in the car, Arne is right there to follow her. She goes to an old friend and asks him to use his contacts to find a place where Nazir can hide. He says he has a guy named Ole that knows a family that hid a refugee, but he is on a skiing vacation and won't be back for two days. The friend tells Rikke that she is strong and can wait the two days without falling apart. Outside with Nazir, Rikke tells him that he has to remain in her apartment for the next two days. Of course, Arne is snapping photos of them as they talk.
Back at the newspaper, the colleague places on the desk of the boss the evidence that Rikke was and is lying and she is now harboring a refugee. Rikke's supervising editor is called into the boss's office. He asks the colleague: "Why are you so hell-bent on taking down Rikke?" The response is: "If you won't print it, I'll take it elsewhere." The colleague says worse: "Aiding a terrorist is just like her." The boss tells Arne to shut up.
Back at home Rikke gets a call from the boss. The three men sit in the office as Rikke arrives. The first thing she wants to know is who took these photos of her? Arne. She calls him a "sick bastard". The boss says they have to call the police and asks: "Why the hell didn't you tell us?" Rikke says she just didn't know what to do.
The boss and the supervising editor said they wanted to hear Rikke's story, but they certainly didn't ask her what is the true story? Rikke says she will go get her stuff, but then she runs for her car. She arrives back home and tells Nazir that they have to leave right now. Police sirens can be heard in the background. She takes Nazir to her boat where she is to meet with her old friend. The friend arrives and Nazir is told to get in the truck. Before he gets in, Nazir thanks Rikke.
Late at night Rikke goes to see Thomas. His wife, Sarah, is there too plus their little girls. Rikki is asking Thomas to help her with her case. Even though Sarah has heard about Rikke, the full extent of her knowledge is not known to Rikke. But Sarah says that of course Thomas will help her. Now Sarah goes to prepare the guest room. The wife and daughter leave, Rikke apologizes to Thomas for this intrusion. One wall of the guest room where Rikke stays is covered with photos of Thomas, Sarah and their little girls. Rikke gets a call saying that "N" is all right.
In the morning Sarah sees a photo of Rikke and Nazir with the headline: "Kidnapped journalist meets with terrorist". She goes into the bedroom to speak to Thomas about it. Sarah asks him why is Nazir wearing his jacket? She tells him not to lie to her face because she's not an idiot -- she knows what's been going on. She basically knew what was going on already. "Why didn't you say anything?" asks her husband. "Because I love you." Sarah says she is taking the girls to the cottage. Thomas says he's sorry, but Sarah just tells him to shut up. He asks her if she is coming back, but she doesn't say anything. She leaves the room.
Thomas and Rikke are alone at the kitchen table. Rikke starts to speak about Sarah, but Thomas says he doesn't want to discuss the matter or at least not now. He starts giving her legal advice. The first step for her is to regain her credibility. She must: "Come forward with the truth." Rikke has a lot of objections. Thomas gets frustrated with her and tells her: "Wake up, dammit! This has nothing to do with the law! It's a media thing." Right now the media is coming out with reports that Nazir is a terrorist helped by a lying Danish journalist. He adds: "Not a single politician will find it lucrative to grant asylum to Nazir." If she tells her story, there's a chance of proving "a just cause" and that this whole matter might come out much better for Rikke than she thought.
At the newspaper office Rikke's supervisor Bech sees Rikke reading an open letter on television. She first admits she's been lying, but she would do it again if the circumstances were the same. Rikke says that Nazir's father opposed the Taliban, but his father was killed by U.S. soldiers and then his uncle virtually forced Nazir to join a terrorist group in order to avenge his father's death. He participated in the kidnapping because his life was threatened by the terrorists. She also says that if it were not for Nazir, she'd be dead. She says that Nazir did the morally right thing and she appeals to the authorities, the media, the politicians and the people to grant this boy political asylum.
Rikke's television debate opponent, Hanne Hvidtfeldt, says: "We cannot oblige Rikke Lyngvig." Nazir Osmani must be tried in a court. She also says that while Rikke is a good person, she does not know the full extent of Nazir's actions and the actions of his group, Juyush as-Thar. In fact, it's possible that Nazir could wind up with the Americans at Guantanamo, Cuba. Thomas is disappointed, saying: "If Hvidtfeldt says it on TV, they're doing it." And he tells Rikke that now she must turn herself in. Rikke says that would mean they would arrest Nazir. Thomas says they are going to find Nazir, anyway.
Nazir saw Hvidtfeldt on TV and now he can't sleep for thinking about being tortured at Guantanamo. He gets up and prays to Allah.
Rikke smokes a cigarette and thinks about what she should do. Bech drives up and gives Rikke a letter that came to the newspaper office. He advises her not to throw her life away on a terrorist. She hugs Bech and says thanks to him. Inside the letter is a letter addressed to Nazir. Rikke tells Thomas that she has to get this letter to Nazir before she turns herself in. He could be in danger.
Thomas and Rikke take a car out to where Nazir is staying. They knock on the door, the host recognizes Rikke and lets her come in to see Nazir. They find Nazir unconscious on his bed. In the hospital, they pump Nazir's stomach and he comes around. Rikke stays by his bedside. When he awakens he tells Rikke that he doesn't want to go back to Afghanistan for they will kill him.
Nazir reads the letter. It's from Roya. She's in Sweden in the northland. Roya writes that she is all right. She even has some relatives who will help her. She also provides an address to write to.
Now Rikke and Thomas trade below-the-belt insults. Then they start laughing and Thomas says: "I love you." She responds: "I know." They hug and kiss. Now Thomas leaves the hospital. Rikke watches as he goes to his car. And here come the police. Thomas leaves the keys to his car on top of the roof and walks away from the car. Rikke rushes to get Nazir dressed and they sneak out to the parking lot, take the car and drive away. But very quickly they run into a road block where the police are checking all the cars. At the checkpoint, Rikke puts her car in reverse, then goes across a grassy medium and onto the highway going the other way. She says to herself: "I must be going out of my mind." She and Nazir go to her boat, get in and shove off. They are headed to Sweden.
On the shore, Nazir tells Rikke: "I'll never forget you." Rikke tells him: "I'll see you again." She tells him that she hopes Nazir finds Roya and peace. He says: "So do I." They hug each other tightly and then they part. Rikke is now in her boat heading back to Denmark.
Good movie/film. A terrorist named Nazir helps save Danish journalist Rikke Lyngvig and then Rikke feels obliged to return the favor. She gets herself into a real moral quagmire of what's right and what's wrong. She does what she thinks is the right thing, but it seems the Danish authorities don't agree with her. That sets her on another course of doing what she thinks is morally right. And again the authorities are not going to approve. Rikke is a very strong person and a good person committed to "moral right" as she sees it. So, yes, she's a liar and some other things, but she has her reasons for doing what she did. She risks imprisonment for what she does to help Nazir, but that still doesn't stop her from doing the right thing. Regardless of one's stand politically, she is something of a hero. The torture at Guantanamo raises its ugly head in the story. (Long after Bush and Cheney are dead, the world will remember America and its love affair with torture.) There is a love story in the film that is also filled with many questions of morality.
Iben Hjejle (as Rikke Lyngvig) was very good and Faegh Zamani (as Nazir Osmani) with his brown skin and blue eyes also did a good job of acting.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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