(aka "King's Game" )


directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Denmark 2004


Politics is a ruthless fight over power, and if you don’t want power, your not a real politician, and your worst enemies are within your own party, as it is them who wants to take your position.

Politics is a strategic game about power and the pawns are the press. It is not without reason the press is called the fourth power of state, but rather than exposing the games played, the press reports whatever they are told as the truth. The result of this game is, according to Niels Krause-Kjær, that real political journalism for the most parts doesn’t exist, and the little critical political journalism there is, appears to be as Carl Bernstein defined journalism to be: the best obtainable version of the truth.

But what if a journalist doesn’t want to be a pawn, what if a journalist wants to expose the game, that is the basis for the bestseller “Kongekabale” by Niels Krause-Kjær, which became the inspiration for the political thriller of same name. Krause-Kjær is no stranger to this game. Today a professor in journalism, he began his career as political journalist and then became a spin doctor for the Danish conservative party. Much of what takes place in both the book and film is thus based on real political spins, exaggerated for suspense.

When the leader of the Democratic Party is injured in a car accident a week from the election, a power struggle breaks out within the party, as the party stands to win the election and the leader of the party thus will become prime minister. A young journalist is given a scoop, but soon realises that he is being used to run a smear campaign against one of the candidates. As a result, he decides to make a move by himself and as a result of that, he is fired. With only a few days before the election, he sets out to expose the game.

More than just a political thriller, “King’s Game” is a story about power, what men will do to get it, to keep it, and how hard it is to maintain some sense of idealism is a cynical world, where everyone is struggling for power. A key element in the story is the relationship between the press and the legislative power. While spin in Denmark differs largely from spin in other countries, mainly because the distance between the press, and public, and the politicians, spin has still become an important element of the political game, not just in order to protect politicians, but also in order to guide “the best obtainable version of the truth”, and even as the story is exaggerated and a composite of many persons and events, it portraits a game, where ethics and objectivity is put aside in order to both gain and maintain power. By doing so, it offers the viewer a base for discussion and a reference, by which the viewer then can approach political news in general.

It is not an auteurist film like the films by von Trier, Refn, Fly or Bier. Its just solid craftsmanship, carefully paced and directed. It’s something as rare as a damn good story told by a damn good director, a debut director even. Not just a delight to follow, “King’s Game” is also a delight to watch, thanks to the stunning underexposed cinematography by Rasmus Videbæk, who also shot “Noi Albino”, and low-key underacting by the entire cast, especially the two leads Anders W. Berthelsen and Søren Pilmark.

Winner of 8 Roberts and the highest grossing Danish film of 2004, with over 500.000 sold tickets in Denmark, “King’s Game” is one of the best Danish films of recent years, fully deserving both the rave reviews it received in the Danish press and the standing ovation it received at its premiere in Locarno.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: August 10, 2004 (Locarno Film Festival)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Nordisk Film - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Nordisk Film

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:42:36

2.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.24 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Danish, DTS Danish
Subtitles English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish
Features Release Information:
Studio: Nordisk Film

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.31:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg and Henrik Qvortrup
• The Real King's Game (18:08)
• The Conservative Party's Spin on the Movie (7:07)
• King's Game: Truths about the Movie (25:02)
• Deleted Scenes (2:27)
• Alternate Scenes (2:56)
• Bloopers (6:03)
• Niels Krause-Kjær (9:10)
• The Halls of Power: Production Design of 'King's Game' (6:45)
• Trailer (2:14)
• Teaser (0:58)
• Poster Artwork

DVD Release Date: February 21, 2005
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Chapters 25





Comments A powerhouse production of a DVD, with one major flaw: It should have been a 2-disc edition. The problem is that the DVD is so crammed with material, over one hour of extras and DTS, that the image suffers.

The image generally looks stunning, true to its grainy, bleak and underexposed cinematography, but in scenes with contrast differences (dark vs. light), halos are very visible (see image #7).

The DVD comes with three soundtracks, a 5.1 Dolby Digital, a more defined DTS and a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio commentary track. As DTS is becoming more and more common, it is a main factor in limiting the space of the image, and while the DTS is more defined, it really isn’t that needed, as the film is dialogue only.

The additional material is great and very informative. First is an audio commentary with the director Nikolaj Arcel, co-writer Rasmus Heisterberg and former spin doctor Henrik Qvintrop, who talks about the realities of spin and how it relates to the film, as well as about the film itself. While the commentary track almost is a lecture in political spin, it may be a bit too Danish for foreign listeners. Still a very welcomed commentary.

Next comes a series of featurettes upon political spin. First is Nikolaj Arcel who talks about the realities behind the film, who inspired what and who, next comes a brief note upon how the Conservative party took the film and made a spin upon it and finally the author of the book, Niels Krause-Kjær, explains about spin and journalism. These are central featurettes and allows the viewer a lot of insight. It really is scary when one learns, that the simple choice of words when saying hallo to a journalist, can make him write a coverstory or bury it.

Then comes production material, in form of a “making of”, full of interviews with the actors and how their approached their parts, commentaries by former spin doctors, and the director talking about the production as such. This is followed by a featurette on the production design, deleted scenes, alternative scenes, both with introductions by the director, and bloopers. The production material is concluded with a poster gallery, where one can follow the development of poster design, as each poster comes with a text noting on its work in progress.

 - Henrik Sylow



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subtitle sample (English only)
Captures resized to 800px from 1016px native resolution



















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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

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Nordisk Film

Region 2 - PAL


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