Series piece by great Dane

Erin Driscoll

A prostitute urinates on the dean’s carpet in defense of her rebellious younger brother, a loony guy talks dirty, befriends aliens and gets his head stuck in the sunroof of his older brother’s car, not to mention an imaginary samurai living in the basement. These characters are featured in the offbeat romantic comedy “Mifune,” the second feature in Villanova’s fall Cultural Film and Lecture Series with its theme of “Siblings: Resentment and Commitment” in Connelly Cinema this weekend.

“Mifune” is a Dogma ’95-stamped film from Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, a former film professor known in his native Denmark for directing children’s films. It’s the third official work from Dogma ’95, a group of Danish directors who abide by a cinematic “vow of chastity” to make their signature earthy films. They use natural light and synchronous sound, real locations and hand-held cameras while they eschew props or music brought in from outside as well as special effects.

In addition, the actors become heavily vested in the project; they are, for instance, responsible for coming up with their clothing and doing their own make-up and hair. This also downplays the role of the director as an auteur, imposing his/her own vision on the production, which goes hand-in-hand with not even giving screen credit to the director.

“Mifune” centers on a successful businessman named Kresten whose past catches up with him and dooms his new marriage. For the first time in 10 years, Kresten returns to the impoverished farm he once called home and finds his mentally disabled brother, Rud, drinking under the table that bears the body of their dead father. To keep up bourgeois appearances, he hires an ex-prostitute named Liva (played by Iben Hjelje, “High Fidelity”) who has a troubled younger brother of her own, as their housekeeper. As expected, a romance soon follows.

The film’s title pays homage to Toshiro Mifune, the star of several films by Akira Kurosawa, including “The Seven Samurai,” Kragh-Jacobsen’s favorite movie. Mifune died in December of 1997, when Kragh-Jacobsen was only three pages into the script for “Mifune.” He was inspired to make this movie a tribute to the Japanese master thespian. The director explained, “I found similarities between Kresten’s destiny and Kikuchiyo, the Seventh Samurai’s destiny – that they were both peasant boys going into the city, Mifune to be a samurai, Kresten to be a yuppie, and both of them coming back and defending their village.” “Mifune” was the recipient of the European Film Award at the American Film Institute Fest in 1999. The film also won the Silver Berlin Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1999, as well as several other international film awards including a Bodil Award, the Baltic Film Prize for a Nordic Feature Film, an Amanda from the Norwegian International Film Festival and a Robert Award from the Robert Festival.

The film appears four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 & 7 p.m., and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for students with their Villanova ID and $4 for all others. It will be shown in its Danish with English subtitles.

The Monday evening show will offer an introduction about the film as well as a discussion afterward, “Brother Act: Mifune and the Danish Dogma,” with guest speaker Mark Mussari.

For further information, please call the Communication Department at (610) 519-4750 or go to