“The Last Sentence” an Act of Selfless Bravery (Foreign Film Review)


The pen is mightier than the sword as proven in WWII when journalist Torgny Segerstedt stood up against the Nazis. The Swedish film, The Last Sentence, tells the true story of a man who defied Hitler and convinced Sweden’s prime minister to not cave in to the evil Nazi Empire that was taking over Scandinavia. Even a greater achievement since his editor was Jewish, this biography holds testament that heroism comes in many ways.

The year is 1933 and Torgny Segerstedt (Jesper Christensen) is a journalist at a newspaper in Sweden. A wave of Nazis at the behest of Adolph Hitler is starting to take control of the German people. Using propaganda and violence the military has convinced Austria to accept the leadership of the Nazi government and they join Hitler’s dream of world domination.

Jesper Christensen as Torgny Segerstedt

Jesper Christensen as Torgny Segerstedt

Torgny sees the future coming with Sweden just a stone’s throw beyond the German border. His column lashes out against Hitler calling him an insult. One evening, he holds a dinner party inviting statesmen and businessmen to his home. There he gives a speech on his concerns that Hitler will stop at nothing to gain control of Scandinavia. He emphasizes that Germany’s ally Russia also wants the countries for their location in Europe and the products they can produce.

He starts by saying that the truth can be excruciating sometimes not being able to utter human concerns. He tells them that not speaking up against the crimes being committed by the Nazis that they become hostages to their lies. He emphasizes that those who stand aside are not only guilty of high treason, but throwing every honest man and woman to the tyrants and oppressors. He concludes with that if you “dine with the devil you want to have a long spoon. However, even if you hand him a hint of your little finger, he’ll take the arm, chest, face, wig and soul as well.”

Pernilla August as Maja Forssman

Pernilla August as Maja Forssman

So begins the heroic story of a man who over many years helps Sweden to remain neutral during WWII. This act of courage helped the country save at least 5000 Jews from the gas chambers and more so the millions of lives that would be put in jeopardy of the Nazis. Director Jan Troell gets his film off on a good foot introducing all the players and showing their strengths and weaknesses during a very dark time in world history.

Troell hides nothing and shows both sides of the journalist including his personal life. He delivers Torgny’s affair with Maja Forssman (Pernilla August) the owner of his newspaper The Handelstidningen, his loyal wife Puste Segerstedt’s (Ulla Skoog) fight to keep her husband and Maja’s husband Axel Forssman (Björn Granath) who was a cuckold to her wealth. Torgny’s stubbornness that almost caused King Gustav V(Jan Tiselius) to stop him from writing is brought to the forefront and the threats from Hitler’s government henchmen put him in a precarious position. Reaching back into the past Troell shows the urgency of the situation of which Torgny is dealing. Using old footage to turn back the clock, images of the persecution of the Jews and Hitler’s fury during his speeches show the developing horror.

Director Jan Troell on the set of The Last Sentence

Director Jan Troell on the set of The Last Sentence

The fine acting by Jesper Christensen as the man who stood in the way of the most potent evil in Europe, gives the film powerful meaning. Not flinching as the pressure from the Nazis gets closer with each threat, Christensen keeps his character strong. Even in the face of being forced to pull his writings from the newspaper, the actor turns on Torgny’s shrewdness by printing what a front page would look like when freedom of speech is taken away.

The Last Sentence has not been rated by the MPAA but contains smoking, sexual inferences and drug use. The film is presented in the Swedish language with English subtitles. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good film that illustrates the value of freedom of speech. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Jesper Christensen, Ulla Skoog, Pernilla August, Bjorn Granath, Lkenneth Milldoff), Peter Andersson, Lia Boysen and Jan Tiselius
Directed by: Jan Troell
Genre: Drama, War, Foreign
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 2 hrs 6 min
Release Date: August 15, 2014
Distributed by: Music Box Films
Release Formats: 2 D Black and White


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