This week’s Unforgettable Scene is from one of my absolute favourite movies. A social drama about family secrets surfaced and confronted, Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen is a hell of a movie, centering on the sixtieth birthday of the family patriarch Helge. If you haven’t seen the film, don’t read on or watch this scene, but for those that have, let’s discuss it.
Festen is a film that has to its credit some fantastic actors. Ulrich Thomsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Henning Moritzen and Paprika Steen all bring to their parts epic performances that reminded me of The Godfather. But in particular it is Thomsen’s performance that the entire film revolves around, and the emotion and life he brings to the role of Christian is fantastic. Christian is a conflicted character, still obviously reeling from the suicide of his sister, while the helpless Helene and the embittered, drunken Michael look on, his worrisome siblings. This, one of many confrontations with Helge, is one of my absolute favourite movie scenes. It is a speech delivered so powerfully well and with such stunning (but well repressed) emotion in each word. The way Thomsen delivers the speech is truly remarkable, and the great actor’s central performance is one of many that keeps this film afloat and elevates it to the ranks among my favourites.
Those of you who’ve seen the film may wish to watch the scene again, so I’ve embedded it below. In all its power and excellence, it is an Oscar-worthy scene.