Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

Anders Morgenthaler's Princess is a film in which a mixture of animation and live action is used to excellent effect. It tells the story of August (Thure Lindhardt), a priest who gives up his missionary work in order to adopt his sister's five year-old daughter after the sister's death, which is implied to be drug-related due to her involvement in the porn industry. The discovery that his charge, Mia (Mira Hilli Møller Hallund), has been abused, re-ignites all of August's repressed guilt over his role in Christina's (Stine Fischer Christensen) being exploited (as he sees it) by her employers. Cue rampage.

The film is mostly animated, and the sections that are not are flashbacks seen through the medium of video tapes amassed by a camera-crazy young August. We see family outings, flat-viewings, and most importantly the events that preceded Christina's descent into the world of porn, encouraged by her boyfriend Charlie (Christian Tafdrup) and facilitated by the use of August's own camera. Christina is only ever seen in live action; we never see her animated. This is a lovely touch. Christina is constantly exploited and dehumanised by the industry in which she works. She is surrounded by people who make money off her every day and who don't respect her (as evidenced by the way they talk about her after her death) and yet, to August and to the viewer, she is the only character who is always a person. Always real. August, conversely, is never seen. He is always behind the camera, and so all we know is the animated August.

Copy picture

Mia is a tragic character. A little girl more or less abandoned and abused, she is prematurely sexualised and in a disturbing scene she is very nearly assaulted by a boy her own age because she wants to play at houses, an example of the effects of a culture in which even six-year-old boys are shown that it is okay to objectify and to use force to get what they want. August comes to her rescue in what is possibly the least satisfying of the "revenge" scenes. The title of most satisfying has to go to the scene in which he encourages Mia to take revenge on her abuser. It involves a crowbar. Disturbing yes, but incredibly satisfying nonetheless.

The movie has something of a fantasy aspect to it. August is the only person apart from Mia who sees her stuffed animal Multe as alive, and at times it is implied that Mia and August can retreat to a fantasy world in which no-one can find them and nothing can hurt them. There is lots of flight symbolism, the idea of being able to fly away to a peaceful place, rather than the world in which they are wanted for arson, murder and GBH of small boys. The fantasy elements are perhaps the weakest of the film, since they don't seem to add much or to go anywhere, but it's a small weakness in what is an emotional, thrilling, disturbing and beautiful film. I don't cry at films, and I cried twice.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
Share this with others on...
Princess packshot
A priest adopts his orphaned niece and grows furious upon discovering what happened to her and her mother.
Amazon link

Director: Anders Morgenthaler

Writer: Mette Heeno and Anders Morgenthaler

Starring: The voices of Thure Lindhardt, Liv Corfixen, Stine Fischer Christensen, Mira Hilli Møller Hallund

Year: 2006

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Germany, Denmark

Search database: