Starring: Mads Mikkelson, Bruno Ganz, Roxane Duran
Genre: Drama/ World Cinema
In the 16th Century, horse trader Michael Kohlhass lives a satisfyingly quiet and solitary existence, however when he is wronged by a ruthless Baron he pursues the matter through the courts. However when his requests for a trial are constantly turned down he resorts to taking arms and leading an army to right all the wrongs of the land.
Despite the poster having good ol’ Mads looking moody with a sword (some have armies fighting in the background) and my synopsis just used the word ‘army’, please do not be fooled by thinking this film (originally just called Michael Kohlhass, but Uprising is certainly a more marketable title) is some sweeping period epic with huge battle scenes. No, Age of Uprising is essentially a brooding mood piece that questions the morality and reasons behind these actions instead of actually showing them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and within the narrative are some interesting thoughts and ideas, but there is no doubt in my mind that at just over two hours this is a film that is often very dull and at times a real effort to watch.
There is no doubting that director Arnaud des Pallières has a great visual eye, and the baron and desolate landscape of Uprising is beautifully captured. The use of a mixture of languages also adds authenticity showcasing the effort and passion that has gone into the making of this film. Mikkelson himself has a very expressional face and has the charisma and stony faced screen presence to also keep us interested.
To its credit, Uprising keeps things realistic, avoiding a more Hollywood Gladiator type story, as when a protagonist decides to take arms there are always consequences and often flaws and moral dilemmas in his motivations and decisions. Predominantly posing more questions than answers in its minimalist style, Uprising is undoubtedly an intelligent and thoughtful film at its core but this often gets lost in the painfully slow pace that frequently proves a tad irritating. It is without a doubt a good 30 minutes too long and when this film is such an effort to watch, the last thing you then want to do is ask yourself some deep questions on morality.
Director Arnaud des Pallières deserves credit for making the film how he wants to, and Age of Uprising undoubtedly has some intelligent ideas and questions at its core, but is seriously let down by being too long, too slow and at times an extreme effort to watch. I would strongly advise against watching this when feeling very tired, trust me you will not make it to the end!