Invitations have been issued, the seating plan drawn up, and now the guests' cars are pulling into the drive up to the entrance: friends, relatives, and of course, the patriarch's next of kin: Elsa, his wonderful wife, and their three grown-up children, Christian, Michael, and Helene. The head of the family is to be feted in a way nobody will ever forget.
Despite all the careful preparations, the celebration turns out to be very much a `surprise' party. Helge's eldest son, Christian, has come home for the party. He is summoned to his father's study for a man to man chat: will Christian please say a few words at the dinner about his twin sister, Linda, who died last year? The birthday boy is afraid he will start blubbing, as he puts it. Christian says that in fact he has already written a few words for the occasion.
The arrivals are shown to their rooms and Helene takes Linda's old room, which has remained unused since her death. It is as if Linda is present. Uninvited because he had failed to attend his sister's funeral, the younger brother, Michael, makes a noisy arrival with his wife and children.
Below stairs things are bustling: fine wines have been brought up from the wine cellars, the fish soup is ready to go, the venison is in the oven. The chef, Kim, is master down here; as Christian's boyhood friend he has his own views on the company and the centre of attention today.
In the banqueting hall upstairs, where the guests are in high spirits, the waiters and chambermaids are on parade. Among the latter, Pia has an eye for Christian, whereas last year Michelle had more time for Michael than Michael's wife, Mette, would approve of.
Dusk falls. The master of ceremonies introduces himself and announces that dinner is served. Nobody smells a rat when Christian gets to his feet to keep the promise he made to his father. Christian is the only person present who knows that soon the world will know the naked truth about his family and the reason why he lost his twin sister.
Christian is the only person who knows that it will be a night nobody will ever forget, however much they might want to.
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Written by: Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov
Produced by: Birgitte Hald
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Editing: Valdis Oskarsdottir
Sound Design: Morten Holm
Main Cast: Ulrich Thomsen (Christian), Henning Moritzen (Helge), Thomas Bo Larsen (Michael), Paprika Stehen (Helene)
Nominations and Awards
- European Discovery of the Year - Fassbinder Award 1998
- European Film 1998
- European Actor 1998
- EFA Feature Film Selection 1998