Flammen & Citronen (Flame and Citron) (2008)
Director: Ole Christian Madsen.
Starring: Thure Lindhardt (Flammen), Mads Mikkelsen (Citronen), Stine Stengade (Ketty Selmer), Peter Mygind (Aksel Winther), Mille Lehfeldt (Bodil), Christian Berkel (Hoffmann - Gestapo leader), Hanns Zischler (Gilbert - German colonel), Claus Riis Østergaard (Bananen), Flemming Enevold (Spex), Lars Mikkelsen (Frode Jacobsen aka Ravnen), Jesper Christensen (Flammens Far), Lærke Winther Andersen (Cap), Peter Plaugborg (Lillebjørn), Martin Hestbæk (Storebjørn), Thomas Voss (Teddy).
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"Based on actual events."
April 9. The German occupation of Denmark begins. When the German Nazis arrived the Danish Nazis came out of the woodwork. They had been waiting for this very day. In a letter Bent (aka Flammen) asks: "Do you remember when they arrived? Do you remember April 9th? I think you do. Everybody does."
May 1944, north of Copenhagen. A red-headed man tries to calm himself before executing his plan. He says if he remains calm, nobody will suspect anything is wrong. He puts one pistol in his boot and another in his coat pocket. He then goes outside to a car and wakes up the driver sleeping in the back seat. While riding in the car he looks over his note cards. One is about Captain Lt. Østergaard Petersen. The two men walk into a building accompanied by a woman with flowers. Pistols are drawn The woman rings a bell. Petersen answers the door and confirms that he is Petersen. The red-headed man steps forward and shoots Petersen in the head.
Why do they do this? Because of the Schalburg Corps. "Danes in German uniforms. Traitors. Some are experienced soldiers from the Eastern front. Brutal bastards. . . . They are . . . vermin."
The two assassins stop at a check point and one of the Schalburg Corps checks their papers and then lets them go. They drive to a place where their red car is painted black. The ambulance crews and the police help them.
Their next target is Editor Gaust. As they wait in the car for the appearance of the editor, the driver tells Bent that the Germans know the assassin is a red-head. He should either dye his hair or wear a hat. The editor shows up and Bent gets out of the car. He shouts: "Editor Gaust." The editor turns around and Bent shoots him in the head four times.
On the 9th of April, the driver, Jørgen (aka Citronen), watches as the Germans march into Copenhagen. It makes him feel sick and he vomits a little. He starts helping print illegal flyers. Soon he and others like him become involved in underground activities. But now, says Bent, only Jørgen and a few other are left. The others have either fled, got badly beaten, placed in jail or are dead. Jørgen was a constant worker for the resistance. He would smuggle British pilots at night; get explosives for the various saboteurs; and procure weapons. And he works with Bent.
Bent and Jørgen go into a tavern and head for the back rooms. There a police solicitor, Aksel Winther, writes up their report. Aksel gets his orders directly from the British. He also helped the Jews flee Denmark.
Bent and Jørgen join with the group and celebrate the recent assassinations right in the tavern while the place is full with German soldiers.. Bent's group is a small one of around 14 people. Bob is a veteran of the Winter War in Finland; Schoolteacher Brains gets crucial information; Big Bear is a big lady's man; Little Bear is good with weapons; the wine merchant sells information both to the Danes and the Germans; Banana is a former boxer who always protects Cap; Carl is timid but tough; they young Heinrich and Teddy are students; Slim always talks about food; and the female Cap was once a nun but now has her own group in Kastrup.
The head of the Gestapo, Karl Heinz Hoffmann, comes into the tavern and slowly looks around at everyone. He goes and sits down but asks the waiter to get Winther for him. Bent spots a pretty blonde all alone at the bar and goes over to speak with her. He identifies himself as Svend Christensen, police detective. Her name is Ketty Selmer. She says she is married. Bent asks her who is she, but she won't answer him, saying he asks too many questions and says goodbye, calling him Bent.
Bent and Jørgen follow her to a "Kraut hotel". Bent goes inside the Nordland Hotel, Vesterbrogade, Copenhagen. He flashes his badge and gets her room number. He goes upstairs and knocks on her door. She is actually a brunette. Ketty tells him that she can't say what she really does and Bent answers that she will have to. So she says she's a courier between Stockholm and Copenhagen. She adds that she knows the wine merchant and Winther. Changing the topic, she says she knows what Bent really came for? Bent says he doesn't mess around with married women and Ketty says her husband is a homosexual and the marriage is just a front. So Bent starts getting very interested in Ketty, but now Ketty tells him to leave. He leaves.
Bent's landlords are Liz and Helmer. He lives in their basement.
The next assignment for Bent is Col. Horst Ernst Gilbert, the editor at Scandinavian Telegrams which spews out Nazi propaganda. He is a highly placed spy for the Abwehr, a German military intelligence organization. His closest collaborator is Hermann Seibold of the SS, who is the head of the agents in Scandinavia. Then there's Mrs. Elisabeth Lorentzen, a secretary to Gilbert. The British want these people eliminated. Bent says okay, but he doesn't shoot women. So Winther gives that job to Citron (Jørgen). Bent then says that after that they will get Hoffmann. But Winther screams that he absolutely forbids that. When he calms down, he tells Bent not to get in any conversations with Gilbert. Knock on his door and shoot him immediately. He also tells Bent to stay away from Ketty.
Bent and Jørgen go to work. Jørgen has to do this job because it's a woman. Bent, waiting in the car, hears two shots. Jørgen comes back but says he couldn't kill her. He only wounded her in the shoulder. Saying he's sorry, Jørgen adds: "I've never killed before, Bent." Bent gets angry and goes to the door and bursts in. He places the gun up to her head, but has to turn her face away from him. Then he shoots her in the head. Bent goes on to the next job. He's still mad at Jørgen
Mrs. Gilbert answers the door. She's the wife of the next victim. Bent has some tea and looks around the living room, while the wife gets her husband up. When Gilbert comes out he tells Bent that he knows the young man is in the resistance -- "a soldier without a front".. He goes on to say that he is not a fan of the Nazis and Hitler. He asks Bent if he is willing to pay the price of his resistance? Is he willing to give his life? Bent points the gun at the man's head, but walks away without shooting.
They go to the home of Hermann Seibold. Bent starts walking behind him and then prepares to shoot. But at the same time Hermann turns and fires his weapon as does Bent. Both men are shot. Jørgen finally gets the car started and knocks Hermann down with the car. He then picks up Bent and starts driving in reverse. Hermann shoots the car five times.
Winther tells a badly wounded Bent that he will be sent to a private clinic. He is really mad at Bent because they only got one of the three targets. Winther then bends down to tell Bent that Gilbert just played him and now is laughing at him. He says Gilbert called up Hoffmann and they both had a good laugh. Bent says it won't happen again and that he's sorry. Winther adds that he is meeting with Hoffmann in half an hour. He wants an explanation of what happened.
A woman comes to see Jørgen. It's his wife Bodil. His daughter Ann is just outside. It's Ann's birthday and Jørgen forgot the date. Jørgen says they will celebrate but his wife says they have no money to celebrate with. So Jørgen goes over to his colleagues and asks each of them to lend him some money. He gets some money and they celebrate in the car by the water. Jørgen has to wipe away his tears. His wife sends Ann outside to play with her new yoyo. She then tells Jørgen that she doesn't think she can take much more of this. Jørgen tells her to go to Sweden where she will be save. And there he can visit her without fear. Jørgen says it's just the war, but his wife says that even before the war, he was never home.
Stockholm, three weeks later. Winther is there already. Bent and Jørgen arrive via the train. The two agents are introduced to Spex from Danish Army Intelligence. He tells the fellows that the Germans took revenge for the killing of the German officers. They stopped a street car and threw eight hand grenades in amongst 29 passengers. Spex admonishes them for starting the killing of German officers. Winther just says that he is following the commands from the British. Spex seems to disapprove. He says: "There will be no retaliation for the streetcar incident." In fact, there are to be no more killings or any sabotage. Instead, he says, they need 50,000 armed men to ambush the Germans on the day Allied Forces land in France and they need peace to gather so many men together. Bent says that the 29 victims are saying only one thing: revenge. Winther says he is going to continue following "standing orders".
When the three get together alone, Winther says the Spex is clueless. They also realize that Swedish Intelligence is following them. Winther says that the British want Gilbert eliminated now. And they want Bent and Jørgen to do the job.
Jørgen and Cap do the killing of Gilbert and a Gestapo agent. When the group gets together, Jørgen is toasted as the newest hero. Bent doesn't seem to like losing the spotlight to his friend.
Jørgen goes into a liquor/grocery shop and the clerk tells him the shop is closed. Jørgen ignores him and asks if the Nazi pig wants to live? Yes. Then fill up this box with groceries. The clerk hurries and stuffs the box full of groceries. He also opens the cash register and gives Jørgen all the money inside. This makes Jørgen very mad and he threatens to kill the clerk for calling him a thief. The clerk calms him down by apologizing. Jørgen takes the goodies and leaves.
Jørgen drives over to his wife's apartment. She and Ann come home late. Jørgen gives his little girl a nice doll, and gives the groceries to his wife. Ann goes up to the apartment. In the car, the wife tells Jørgen that she has met someone else. She says she is so sorry. He starts to have sex with her. She asks him: "Please, don't." He let's her alone. Then he demands to know the name of the man. She won't tell him the name because she knows Jørgen will kill him. He really gets angry and asks her why does she say that? He says he loves her and lets her get out of the car.
Bent talks to Jørgen. He lets Jørgen have his automatic weapon and then says that after they finish up with the Germans, they will go to Japan and fight alongside the Americans against the Japanese. He also says that he doesn't think there is a future in Denmark for them now. They have to move on.
A truck with three badly beaten Danish men in the back drives to the front of Gestapo headquarters. A group of Gestapo men come out, stand the men up and then shoot them as they stand up on the back of the truck. The three were members of the Danish Resistance: Bob, Carl and the schoolteacher, all mowed down at Dagmarhus.
Winther tells his group that they have a stoolie among them. In addition, there were 8 executions at Ryvangen. Winther says: "Hoffmann is striking back for Gilbert." Moreover, the Schalburg Corps bombed Tivoli Gardens. And there are more executions coming.
Winther asks for a moment of silence. With the men's heads bowed, Jørgen comes up behind Søren the boxer and puts his pistol to the neck of the man. Winther asks him: "What really happened at Cafe Lauritz Betjent?"
Bent as narrator asks: Where were you on June 26th, the day of the uprising? He is very happy when the fighting starts. Bent himself goes to the "Kraut Hotel" and waits in Ketty's room. She is shocked when she sees him. She tells Bent that Hoffmann has just named Bent as the number one enemy of Germany in Denmark. Ketty tells him to cover his hair and throws him a beret. They eat in the hotel restaurant. She asks him why does he kill so many people? He asks what else can one do? He goes on to say that his father had sent him to Germany to learn to be a waiter and a chef. There was a Jewish girl that worked there. One day the Nazi chef found out the truth and he turned the girl into the Gestapo. She was beaten to a pulp and then the police came for her. Bent adds that he doesn't want this happening in Denmark. "The only thing you can do is eliminate them. One by one. Down to the last one."
Ketty says the coming of the war was actually a relief for her. She started working for Winther. It was fun at first, but now all she wants to do is survive. All of a sudden lots of German officers come into the hotel restaurant. Bent says they have to get out of here. Up in her room, Bent and Ketty have sex together. (Brief nudity.) Later Ketty tells Bent that she wants the war to end. Then she will go to Stockholm.
Jørgen goes right up to his wife's building and speaks with the boyfriend Morten. He threatens Morten that if he hears that Morten is not treating his wife and child well, he will be back. Morten is very scared. Jørgen leaves.
Bent talks with Jørgen in a restaurant. The reward on Bent's head is now 20,000 kroner. Later Bent asks Winther for orders to shoot Hoffmann. Winther won't do it. He says he has found out who the informer is: Mrs. Ketty Selmer Sjoberg. She is to be liquidate immediately. Bent says it's a mistake, but Winther says it's not a mistake. Winther says she's a double agent, loyal to no one. Hoffmann goes to talk with her.
While Ketty is away, Bent goes through her things. When she comes back, Bent is waiting for her. He starts asking her question after question. She now says she works both for Winther and Army Intelligence. She tells Bent that Winther doesn't get his orders from the British. Ketty shows Bent a lot of contracts signed by both Winther and Gilbert. The two men worked together and earned a lot of money. When the war turned against Germany, Winther realized what he had done would be seen as traitorous and he would face charges of collaboration. Winther also had a close relationship with Seibold. Winther had to get rid of both Gilbert and Seibold and he used Bent as his tool of assassination. Ketty drops a bomb on Bent. She says Gilbert was in the German Resistance. He did not have Nazi guards. He was being held under house arrest, suspected of anti-Nazi activity.
Bent and Jørgen go looking for Winther. The wine merchant says he's not here. He has escaped to Stockholm. Bent and Jørgen suspect a set-up and they shoot the wine merchant and the two men sitting at a table, Gestapo men. Then Gestapo start pouring out from the area behind the mirror of the bar. Bent and Jørgen kill quite a few of them and then start running for the car. Bent shoots more Gestapo as they try to come out onto the street. Then Bent jumps in the car and they head out.
Bent tells Jørgen that Winther had them shooting innocent people. Jørgen yells at him to shut up because he sure as hell never killed any innocent people.
Jørgen now tells Bent that they will choose their own targets to be eliminated. They decide to kill Hoffmann.
Bent and Jørgen get a lot of men and grab control of everyone in the favorite Gestapo restaurant. Hoffmann, however, is in the back. Bent goes to kill him. He shoots at him, but misses. Now there is a stand-off with the two men shooting at and missing each other. Hoffmann now tries to make a deal with Bent. He will give Bent 24 hours to get out of Denmark and over to Sweden before he even announces that the Gestapo is to look for Bent. Bent doesn't say much, but Hoffmann keeps offering reasons why the deal would be good for both of them. The police start arriving, so Bent just runs out of the restaurant along with his men.
Bent meets Ketty on a pedestrian bridge. She delivers a message to him to be in Stockholm at 10 the day after tomorrow. Bent tells her no, but Ketty says she will tell them that Bent and Jørgen will be there.
Bent and Jørgen do show up for the meeting. They offer Bent a position as captain and Jørgen a position as lieutenant in the Danish Army. Bent says no. He also says that he will not stop killing the enemy. Spex says they have other ways of stopping them. The man known as Raven apologizes for Spex. He gives them a name of an informer in their midst.
Bent and Jørgen take the informer on a job to kill someone. The man asks them to stop because he needs to urinate. Jørgen goes with him and shoots the man in the head.
Bent hasn't seen his father for three years. He decides to visit him all of a sudden. They go to the Birkegaarden Hotel, Northern Sealand and Bent tells Jørgen to wait in the car while he goes to talk with his dad. Neither dad or son seem pleased by their meeting. Bent says dad has a lot of German officers as guests. He adds: "You always liked them." Dad says he likes the German culture, but not the Nazis. He offers his son a deal. If he would put in a good word with his communist friends for him and the hotel and would not shoot Hoffmann in the hotel, he will tell Bent everything he knows about Hoffmann.
As Bent walks back to the car, he sees Ketty with Hoffmann riding in the backseat of a car. Ketty sees Bent too.
Bent is shocked. He remembers what his dad told him. Dad says Hoffmann, his family and his mistresses stay at the hotel. He has four bodyguards. Bent watches as Hoffman and Ketty get out of the car and go into the hotel.
Bent returns to Ketty's room in the Kraut Hotel. She comes in and tells him that army intelligence told her to get close to Hoffmann. He asks her if army intelligence asked her to get close to him. She says no, that Hoffman doesn't mean anything to her. Just Bent means something. So Bent tells her to tell him what car Hoffmann is driven in and what route he takes to Dagmarhus. Ketty says that Bent promised not to ask her to divulge any information to him. Bent holds his pistol up to her forehead and pulls the trigger. There is only a click sound.
She asks if he will go with her to Stockholm, if she tells him Hoffman's route? Bent doesn't say anything. She says Hoffman has a small, black Opel Kadett, license number 23 34 5. On even weeks, he drives a Mercedes, 44 19 3. He changes his route so his route is unpredictable. He has two ways to go.
One of the cars comes along and Bent, Jørgen and two other men shoot up the front car and then the second car. But in the second car is just a child with his father. The father is dead and the son is wounded. Bent says: "Oh, no!" Jørgen picks up the boy, telling him he will be okay.
Bent goes back to the Kraut Hotel. Ketty has left a note saying that Hoffmann is on to her and she is going to Stockholm. She says she hopes he will meet her there. Bent goes back to his own place.
Jørgen comes into the room saying the boy is dead. Bent and Jørgen just sit near each other saying nothing.
Bent wants to go right inside Dagmarhus and ask to see Hoffman. Jørgen says it won't work. Even if they get in, they won't get back out.
Today Bent and Jørgen are wearing police uniforms when they come to a checkpoint. The two men are immediately taken out of the car and placed on the ground. They then put the two men in the back of a truck. They take them to a place of execution and line them up against a wall with other police officers. A man against the wall says they are arresting all the policemen. Both Bent and Jørgen have small pistols in their boots. Jørgen wants to make a break for it. Jørgen tries to jump over the fence, but is shot. Meanwhile, Bent and another man walk away from the whole scene.
Still in his police uniform, Bent watches as they put Jørgen in an ambulance. As the ambulance proceeds to the hospital, Jørgen asks for water and when the Gestapo man turns to get the water, he shoots the man in the head.
Safe house, north of Copenhagen, October 1944. A nurse name Marie puts a new bandage on Jørgen. He tells Marie that after the war is over, he has to go to jail for the things he did. Marie says that everything will be alright. A little later Jørgen sees her bicycle away from the safe house. This gives him a funny feeling and he watches out the window of the second floor. All of a sudden German troops starts swarming off the back of trucks down below. Jørgen opens his suitcase full of weapons and loads them. He gets in position on the steps to open fire on the Germans. When they burst through the door, Jørgen kills the first group to enter.
He retreats back to his room. He comes back out and starts shooting out another window on the second floor. The next group that comes up the stairs he kills with grenades.
Meanwhile, Bent is at home with Liz and Helmer. All of a sudden Hoffman and his men arrive. Bent goes down to the basement. He has three pistols with him and a cyanide pill. He grabs the cyanide pill and cracks it in his mouth.
Jørgen comes outside. He raises his hand with a pistol in it and is shot dead.
Hoffmann and his men burst into the basement, but Bent is already dead.
German photographers take photos of the dead heroes. This infuriates Hoffmann and he puts an immediate stop to it. He asks the men if they have no decency at all? Hoffmann orders the two dead bodies to be covered up with blankets.
Hoffmann gives Ketty the 20,000 kroner reward. He leaves Ketty with a letter from Bent to her.
It says: "Do you remember when they arrived? Do you remember April 9th? I think you do. Everybody does." He says that he still does not believe that she betrayed him. And he wonders if they ever can go forward.
The Germans bury Bent and Jørgen together.
"After the Liberation, Flame and Citron received a grand funeral. In the days following the service, their coffins stood side by side. A few months later, Flame's father passed away. In 1951, Citron was awarded the US government's Medal of Freedom. It was accepted by Citron's mother. Flame received the same distinction. Bodil fled to Sweden where she gave birth to a daughter, Lone. After the liberation, she settled down in a house near Copenhagen, where she and her daughters lived alone for many years. The fate of Citron impacted the family throughout the years. After Flame died, Ketty Selmer moved to Stockholm. She then settled down in Majorca, where she died in the mid-nineties. She never spoke of Flame."
Good movie. And there's quite an interesting twist in the story along the way that complicates things more. Yes, who was this Ketty Selmer? That's what keeps one guessing. Is she a good girl or a bad girl or just a girl in the middle? The acting was good all around, but the actors that played Bent, Jørgen and Ketty were especially good. I especially liked Bent being so calm and cool while assassinating people. (He reminded a bit of Wyatt Earp in the film Wyatt Earp (1994).
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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