Friday, 6 September 2013

A Hijacking

Tobias Lindholm is a Danish writer and director who British viewers will know from the excellent political TV series Borgan for which he wrote various episodes and also for writing the screenplay for The Hunt (2012) a thought provoking film involving child abuse. His first attempt at writing and directing was with R (2010) a tough gritty Danish prison drama that had its UK premiere at the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The ships cook Mikkel Hartmann.

The company's CEO Peter Ludvigson.

His second feature film, A Hijacking (2012), which he also wrote, is about four months of negotiations that take place after Somali pirates seize a Danish merchant ship the MV Rosin in the Indian Ocean and hold it for ransom.  This excellent procedural thriller avoids showing the actual hijacking, which obviously a Hollywood remake will not be able to resist! Lindholm to his great credit completely sidesteps any heroics in favour of the protracted negotiations between the ship and the shipping corporation. On the ship we have a seven-man crew held under armed guard by the Somali’s. The captain is very sick so the pirates spokesman’s on board the ship converses with the ships cook, an English speaking Dane Mikkel Hartmann played by Pilou Asbaek who was lead actor in Lindholm’s first feature and also one of the main stars in Borgan where he played Kasper Juul, Birgitte Nyborg’s Communications Chief. On dry land the company’s CEO Peter Ludvigson, another Borgan regular Seren Malling, handles communications under the guidance of a professional negotiator Gary Porter, who really does this for a living! 

From ship.... shore.
 The strength of Lindholm’s direction is how he handles the tension and the overbearing sense of panic between ship and shore which gradually builds up the longer the negotiations go on and we witness the deteriorating conditions on the MV Rosin and how the stress builds between the CEO and his advisers. You’re constantly on the edge of your seat wondering how it will end and if the crew will get safely off the ship and return home. It’s a movie that’s not about an actual hijacking but about the people involved and how it affects them, the technicalities of negotiation and the monitory value of human life. An interesting point, and one that enhances the realism, is that it was filmed on an actual cargo ship out at sea and one that had been hijacked previously! 

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