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1864: Now Streaming!

1864, the acclaimed Danish historical epic from the makers of Borgen, is now streaming on MHz Choice! This sweeping, eight-part blockbuster was produced by Danish public broadcaster DR, the makers of Borgen, and Miso Film, the production company behind popular TV series Varg Veum and Those Who Kill. It’s a rare foray into historical drama from a region better known for contemporary crime drama. According to writer/director Ole Bornedal, it’s all a question of resources. “Even though recent Scandinavian TV series have marketed themselves successfully on the international scene as some of the most interesting and probing psychological dramas, budgets are still very limited,” Bornedal explained. “It is only with the aid of government funding that this production was made possible.” In the end, 1864 turned out to be the most expensive Danish TV series ever, with an estimated budget of 23 million euros – every cent of it up on the screen!

Trailers

Knowledge of Danish History Not Required

Viewers don’t need to know anything about Danish history to enjoy the series – indeed, actress Sarah-Sofie Boussnina said in a 2015 interview that she knew little about the series’ historical background when she was cast in it! Writer/director Ole Bornedal has crafted what he describes as a “factual fairy tale” with strong people at its center, one that requires no knowledge of the Schleswig-Holstein wars as a prerequisite – just sit back and enjoy a gripping, extraordinarily well-told story.

“It’s a classic story about power and the abuse of power and of people getting separated.”
– Writer/Director Ole Bornedal

Following the 1851 defeat of the Prussians in the First Schleswig-Holstein War, Danish nationalism swells. Bishop D.G. Monrad, the leader of the Danish Parliament, rides a populist wave to power and hatches a scheme to annex the duchy of Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom – a move which makes a new war with Prussia inevitable. Two peasant brothers, Laust and Peter, are caught up in history and called to serve in what will turn out to be one of Europe’s bloodiest-ever battles…

Meanwhile, in 2014, the young maladjusted Claudia, who recently lost her brother in the war in Afghanistan, goes to work as a personal assistant to an eccentric, 100-year-old baron who lives in a mansion near the place where Peter and Laust grew up. There, Claudia finds an ancient diary and through it becomes an eyewitness to history, and to the extraordinary story of Laust, Peter and Inge – the woman they both loved!

1864: All-Star Cast

The series’ ensemble cast is anchored by a trio of well-known faces from Borgen. Sidse Babett Knudsen (Westworld), best-known as Borgen’s prime minister, plays the actress Johanne Luise Heiberg, who is Bishop Monrad’s “Lady Macbeth” muse and feeds his nationalist zeal. Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones), who was troubled spin doctor Kasper Juul in Borgen, plays a cowardly, loathsome character named Didrich in 1864. And Søren Malling, determined news editor Torben Friis in Borgen, is recognizable (just) as the mysterious, mystical soldier Johan in 1864. Additionally, two familiar faces from another popular Danish series round out the cast – Nicolas Bro, art dealer Freddie Holst in The Bridge 3, plays the mad Bishop Monrad in 1864, and our modern-day protagonist Claudia is played by Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, who was the very pregnant Jeanette in The Bridge 3.

“We are living for the future, not the past. Even if the past is the sheer definition of what we are and why.”
– Writer/Director Ole Bornedal

Cast

Production Stills

With its first-class production values, gripping story and strong cast, 1864 may have all the hallmarks of a slick Hollywood blockbuster, but its story is deeply rooted in the Danish national psyche. “1864 was the last ‘great war’, a punishing conflict that relegated Denmark to the tiny nation it is today,” Bornedal explained. “The tragic loss and ultimate humiliation became a turning point for the nation, moving from an outward-looking perspective, defining itself as an influential nation in Europe, to one of looking inwards, defining itself and its qualities as a people – for better or worse – as one family. What is known today as the ‘Danish welfare model’ – the nation taking care of all of its citizens – has its offspring from that new momentum and self-definition. Thus, as in many of life’s instances, the chaos, conflict and suffering of wartime generated a new creative soil to grow in.”