'The Guilty': Inside Netflix's remake of award-winning Danish thriller film

Netflix movie 'The Guilty' is based on the Danish movie of the same name that was submitted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars


                            'The Guilty': Inside Netflix's remake of award-winning Danish thriller film
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'The Guilty' (English) and Jakob Cedergren in 'The Guilty' (Danish) (Nordisk Movies A/S, Netflix)

Inspiration can come from anywhere and in any language. That’s why Hollywood doesn’t shy away from taking a look at world cinema and picking out gems to make their own versions of it. However, it doesn’t guarantee you instant success because replicating a foreign film is never easy. The entire dynamics change when it comes to Hollywood and sometimes, it ruins the essence of the project.

But there have been many instances where Hollywood remade foreign movies with utter decency and stayed true to the source material. Movies like ‘Scent of a Woman’ (remake of Italian movie ‘Profumo di Donna’), and ‘The Departed’ (inspired by a Hong Kong crime-drama ‘Internal Affair’) are perfect examples of how filmmakers should try making remakes relevant.

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One movie that is going to be added to that never-ending list is Jake Gyllenhaal’s upcoming movie ‘The Guilty’. The Netflix flick is a remake of the Danish film, titled ‘Den Skyldige’, of the same name and will be hitting the streaming platform on Friday, October 1.

Let’s dig a little deeper and get to know about the Danish movie directed by Gustav Moller.

Jakob Cedergren as Asger Holm in 'The Guilty' (Nordisk Film A/S)

What is ‘The Guilty’ (Danish) story?

A Copenhagen police officer named Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), who is waiting to attend the shooting and killing of a 19-year-old man is assigned to answer emergency calls. On the evening before the hearing, he receives a phone from a woman named Iben Ostergard (Jessica Dinnage), who does not say she has an emergency but keeps on talking as if she is talking to a child. Initially about to hang up, Asger guesses the distressed Iben is not alone and asks her yes and no questions; she discreetly reveals she has been abducted but explicitly mentions a white van. 

However, the North Zealander dispatcher said that there is not enough information to proceed with the case.

A still from 'Den Skyldige' (Nordisk Film A/S)

Becoming absorbed in the case, Asger looks up information about Iben Ostergård and finds a home telephone number, calling it. Iben's six-year-old daughter Mathilde answers.

Will he be able to save Iben’s life from her abductor? Or the entire scenario will reveal a dark secret from Asger’s life? The movie takes us on an epic journey of determination, guilt, and intense conversations.

YouTube audio clip inspiration 

The movie was inspired by a YouTube clip of a kidnapped woman calling an emergency dispatcher while her kidnapper sat nearby. Filmmaker Gustav Möller was struck by how much an audio clip could convey on its own with no visual accompaniment. 

“The idea for the film came from a YouTube clip I heard that was a real 911 call. I was both inspired by how gripping it was, but also the inner imagery that the sound provoked,” Moller told Seventh Row.

Meanwhile, an episode of the podcast ‘Serial’ that featured a story on the 1999 murder of a Maryland student also influenced the film.

The film was submitted for Academy Awards

The movie turned out to be a huge success in Denmark and across the globe. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 97% rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, indicating universal acclaim. ‘Den Slydige’ made it to the Oscars shortlist but failed to get nominated at the prestigious event.

But that did not stop the movie from creating a powerful impact all around the world. National Board of Review included the Danish movie in their annual list of Top 5 Foreign Language Films and was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Gustav Moller and Jakob Cedergren (IMDb)

On the acting side, Jakob Cedergren won the Best Actor accolade at the Robert Awards, which is the Danish equivalent of the Oscars, BAFTAs, and AACTA Awards.

The English remake of ‘The Guilty’ will be premiering exclusively on Netflix on Friday, October 1.

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