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ERNA AT WAR (2020, DAN) – 6.5/10

One of the most famous Danish actresses Trine Dyrholm (Queen of Hearts, In a Better World, Love is All You Need) is again in good form as a woman who will go to war to protect her son. Experienced Danish filmmaker Henrik Ruben Genz (Terribly Happy, Chinaman) filmed “Erna at War” based on Erling Jepsen’s novel, and the action of this war drama takes place in 1918 in the last months of the First World War. Of course, in April of that year, no one could have known that the war would last for another seven months, and Erna (Dyrholm) lives with her intellectually under-capacitated son Kalle (Sylvester Byder) in a village in the area of ​​southern Jutland.

Although mostly Danes live there, the southern part of Jutland has belonged to the German Empire since 1864, so the Danish residents were also forced to be conscripted. And the middle-aged Erna is convinced that her son will not be touched because not only does Kalle have a medical certificate that he is unfit for the army, but he is clearly undercapacitated. Nevertheless, one day the local police officer Meier (Ulrich Thomsen), who has since become a non-commissioned officer in the German army, will appear one day and recruit Kalle, who is not completely clear about what is happening. A caring mother is ready to do anything to get her son out of the war because it is certain that the young man will serve as cannon fodder as soon as he arrives in the trench, and fate will play out so that she ends up in the same company as Kalle.

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After helping a young soldier to desert, he will take over his uniform and his identity. It will soon become clear that Erna is really ready to do anything to protect her son and she will promise Meier if he protects her and her son and he will put them in a platoon under his command and they will go to the front line. And of course everyone in that platoon will be very clear about who Erna is and what she is doing there, but they will try to help her, but the most problematic thing in the whole film for me was the fact that it is impossible to believe that the person who presents himself as soldier Julius Rasmussen is a man since it is obvious that it is a middle-aged woman.


All the same, “Erna and the War” or “Erna at War” was, in the end, a completely solid and correct film shot in a classic style. As usual, the actors are up to the task when it comes to Danish films, and it is obviously an expensive and extremely high-quality production for European conditions, and no expense was spared in order to capture the spirit of the times as well as possible, and it definitely succeeded. The production is extraordinary, but above all it is an emotional and moving drama about a mother’s love, courage and determination to protect her son at all costs. This film also hides some surprises, and all those who like such lavish stories set in a historical period will definitely not miss “Erna at War”.

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