“The Half Brother” a four-disc, eight episdoe DVD set, just out now on the MHz is a very interesting trip in to modern day Norway and also its’ turbulent post-WAR II past.
Beautifully shot and packed with the top-notch cast of Norway’s A-list actors, who, of course, are completely unknown in America, “The Half Brother” compels you to keep watching. It’s an epic family saga that is told in several time frames simultaneously. Skipping back and forth from V-Day in May 1945, the day Norway was freed from the Nazi Occupation, to modern day Oslo in 1987 where the main character Barnum Nilsen is trying to piece together the shattered fragments of his family’s strange history.
Barnum is played very persuasively by the curly-haired Norwegian heart-throb Nicolai Cleve Broch, whose is known as Nico to his fans. He has dark-hair and dark eyes, which in Scandinavian makes him an exotic. Barnum is a would-be screen-writer who was named Barnum after the American circus Barnum and Bailey. His strange father’s rationale for this unusual name, even for Norway, is questioned by the presiding cleric at the christening.
“It’s not what You see that matters, but what you THINK you see.”
Based on a famous novel, by one of Norway’s popular contemporary novelists, Lars Saabye Christiensen, it’s a very intricate interweaving of the lives of the Nilsen family, which begins in Ep.1 with the violent rape of Barnum’s mother Vera, by an unknown man.
A child, Fred, is born of this unholy incident, and Vera’s mother Boletta (Marianne Nielsen) and HER mother played by one of Norway’s greatest actresses Ghita Norby, take care of the baby until the arrival several years later of this unusual guy, Mr. Nilsen who charms himself into the lives of these three lonely women with silk stockings and seals the deal with a brand new washing machine, something they’ve never seen before.
And the story goes on from there. Fred, the unhappy bastard child, comes to be its’ center. Played by the very striking young actor Frank Kjosaas, who has a great screen presence with his prominent cheekbones and his seething, deep-set, haunting eyes. If there was anyone I’d pick for springing to international stardom from this cast, it’s Kjosass.
Fred wants to know the circumstances of his birth and who his father is. His mother doesn’t even know. And this search also becomes an obsession of Barnum, when his beloved HALF brother, Fred(Kjosass) disappears.
The 1940s is shot in a golden light, and the present with Barnum acting as a history detective is bluish. You HAVE to pay attention, or you could get easily lost amidst the generations and the decades as they go flying back and forth.
Having been to Iceland memorably twice with my TV show, it was interesting to see how the Norwegians view the Icelanders depicted here. They’re the circus freaks. And of course, the Norwegians are all normal.
But it’s a sumptuous spectacle and an interesting one, a perspective on Europe that we almost never see here.
“The Half Brother” is worth checking out.