The Reel Review


A retired military officer must outwit a cruel nobleman as he sets out to achieve the unthinkable – to create the first farming settlement on Denmark’s unforgiving Jutland peninsula in the year 1755. Mads Mikkelson stars in this epic period biopic loosely based on the life of Ludvig von Kahlen.

Mads Mikkelsen in The Promised Land

Gorgeous cinematography, a compelling story and excellent performances make The Promised Land an enthralling watch. Sweeping epics like these, providing an accurate snapshot of a moment in history, are rarely made anymore. Filled with discriminatory superstitions of the time period, the story from co-writer/director Nikolaj Arcel (The Dark Tower) is one of personal growth, as the initially prickly Kahlen, his sights set on becoming a nobleman, evolves as he assembles his own ragtag family.

Amanda Collin in The Promised Land

Mikkelsen, as usual, gives a solid performance, with Simon Bennebjerg (The Pact) particularly effective as the hateful villain Frederik de Schinkel, and Amanda Collin (The Exception), whose character blossoms throughout the film from her origins as a timid runaway servant. The Promised Land is a beautiful, bold film – a stirring tale that will find you heavily invested in its outcome.


The Promised Land was Denmark’s Best International Film entry for the 2024 Academy Awards. It was shortlisted but not nominated.

The Promised Land is based on Ida Jessen’s 2020 novel, “The Captain and Ann Barbara.” After eight years, the stubborn Ludvig von Kahlen finally abandoned his farm settlement, rejoining the army to became captain of a military unit in Fladstrand prior to his death in 1774, at the age of 69.

The Promised Land was filmed in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.


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