Frames in Focus: A Hijacking (Lindholm, 2012)

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127 days after the Rozen was first hijacked, the ship’s crew are brought up on deck and into the light of day. There is an excruciating sense of tension accompanying the pirates’ decision to move their hostages. Something important is about to happen, but the ship’s cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk) and his crewmates have no idea what that may be. There is a finality to this movement from the the depths of the ships to its upper deck; it could be the final act of a devastating episode the crew are ultimately able to survive, or this breath of fresh air could prove to be their last. Even if Lindholm’s style is minimal and seemingly non-intrusive, the director’s intricately structured approach to how his story has been told and from whose perspective, up until this point, demonstrates that nothing can be taken for granted – no one can be trusted, not even the storyteller himself. Even if a deal finally seems to have been reached on land, the suit-and-tie business negotiations of the ship’s company are still a far cry from the immediate reality of the boat under siege. Regardless of what happens, Mikkel and crew are utterly defeated. They are as ready as one can be to face what may be the inevitable outcome of their ordeal. In the above frame – an iconic shot, used frequently for the film’s promotional material – the crew gaze forwards towards an uncertain future on the horizon. The camera frames the crew as if they were condemned men, lined up on the firing line, ready for the executioner’s bullet. Chillingly, the camera places us in the position of this would-be executioner. This is the moment the film has been leading to: life or death. It all comes down to the next few seconds. Suddenly, the faint whir of a plane engine is heard overhead…

 

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