Brothers (2004 film)

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Brodre (2004).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Susanne Bier
Written bySusanne Bier
Anders Thomas Jensen
Produced bySisse Graum Jørgensen
Starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Connie Nielsen
Ulrich Thomsen
CinematographyMorten Søborg
Edited byPernille Bech Christensen
Adam Nielsen
Music by Johan Söderqvist
Distributed by Nordisk 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 assumed to have been killed in action and is reported dead to his 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. After Michael is taken into custody, Jannik helps Sarah begin the repairs on the house. Later, Sarah visits Michael in prison, where he breaks down and finally admits the truth about what he did in 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]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes , 89% of 73 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.5/10.The website's consensus reads: "This tense, understated drama explores the complications of individual and social ethics stemming from the repercussions of war on one man and his family." [6]

Opera adaptation

An opera 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. [7]

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  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. "Brodre". Collections Search. British Film Institute. 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  5. "Brødre". Det Danske Filminstitut (in Danish). 1 July 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  6. "Brothers". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango Media . Retrieved 11 March 2022. OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  7. "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.
  8. "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.