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4.8 out of 5 stars
Borgen: Series 1 [DVD] [2010]
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217 of 223 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 July 2011
After thoroughly enjoying BBC4's Danish winter offering The Killing - Series 1 [DVD] [2010], I thought I'd try another Danish series. Borgen is made by the same company DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) that produced The Killing. The series comprises ten x one hour long episodes which delve into the whole world of Danish government. The series encompasses the challenges which face Denmark's first female prime minister Birgitte Nyborg Christensen. Birgitte's homelife, the sacrifices made at home, her relationship with ministers in her coalition government, as well as typical defence, constitutional, financial and media scandals all intertwine to provide hours of decent drama.
Having enjoyed The Killing's depiction of Copenhagen city coalition politics, this series features politics on a national level and we see the surprise result of the election, mishaps by rival Conservative and Labour parties, the secret world of Nyborg's spin doctor in addition to the TV1 broadcaster which is always attempting to obtain political scoops.
On a par again with The Killing is the acting - superb! Sidse Babett Knudsen and Pilou Asbæk shine as PM and spin doctor Kasper Juul. Familiar faces from The Killing pop up including Søren Malling (Meyer in The Killing 1) as TV1 editor Torben Friis and briefly Bjarne Henriksen (Theis in The Killing 1) as defence minister Hans Christian Thorsen.
Well written and directed, Borgen is a treat. The Killing 2 fans will recognise Birgitte's husband Philip Christensen played by Mikael Birkkjær. Birkkjær played Ulrik Strange in The Killing - Series 2 [DVD] in late 2011 on BBC4. Asbæk also starred in The Killing 2 as soldier David Grüner in episode 3.
Two of Denmark's finest actors pop up as Labour ministers in the series, Lars Brygmann and Peter Mygind. They fit in very well with the rest of the cast.
Enjoy!

If you want to see even more of Mikael Birkkjær's work, have a look at this December 2011 release of the 2004 film Aftermath [DVD] in which he plays the husband of a character played by a certain Sofie Gråbøl. Recommended!!
Also a 2005 film with Mikael in the lead role Springet and from 2011 Værelse 304 (Room 304) Import (English subtitles). Worth a watch!
Fans of Sidse Babett Knudsen may like to see her first ever film which has been recently released for the very first time on DVD, Let's Get Lost with Bjarne Henriksen and Nicolaj Kopernikus (both from The Killing 1) co-starring. You may like to take a look at three comedies featuring Sidse - Take the Trash ( Blå mænd ) featuring Troes Lyby (Let's Get Lost), Søren Malling (Meyer - The Killing / Torben Friis - Borgen) and Danish film actor Thure Lindhardt. Therapy ( Parterapi ) features Sidse with the another Danish film actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas (soon to be seen in The Killing 3) and Søren Pilmark who stars in the moving film Aftermath. The third comedy is Fukssvansen. These three films easily confirm Sidse's comedy abilities.
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Katrine) also stars in the 2011 produced Julie - en kamp om kærlighed whilst Iben Dorner (Sanne the PM's secretary ) can be seen in Those Who Kill - Series 1 [DVD] as a recurring character and in the thriller Kandidaten.

If you can play DVDs from USA (Region 1) with no problem, have a look at PROOF from 2004. Proof is an Irish thriller starring Sidse as an Albanian woman who has been living in Copenhagen after defecting but has now turned up in Dublin searching for her sister believed dead. Proof is excellent and is well worth a watch. The set has four 50 minute episodes with Sidse speaking in English throughout.

Borgen has gone on to win a BAFTA award for the Best International series at the 2012 awards ceremony. Borgen faced diificult competition in the category with nominations from it's DR stablemate The Killing as well as USA's Modern Family and Australia's The Slap. Well done to the Borgen team!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2012
Will you like this series?
If you like the West Wing, and like European affairs - go for this. Initially I thought it was a pale comparison to West Wing in terms of context, drama and intrigue - but by Episode 2 I was gripped. This is West Wing for Europeans! The political and personal intrigue are fantastically played out against a Danish current affairs context. You might think the political setting is not as dramatic as The Killing - but don't be fooled!

Isn't Danish politics a bit off the pace?
Absolutely not: first of all, the politics is just a backdrop for the aforementioned interpersonal drama. The number of parties in Denmark was a little tough to get my head round, but then the UK and US are a bit boring in this regard! Secondly, the political context and plots touch on topics relevant to any Western democracy: drugs, Afghanistan, corruption are highly relevant more broadly. I'm from the UK and think my country could learn a lot from Scandiavian countries!

Will the subtitles and Danish language put me off?
Depends if you have tried it before. It's not that difficult really - and you might learn some useful words!

I would suggest reading Mikey Eurocimes review.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 February 2012
Borgen is an absorbing Danish political drama in which each episode focuses on a different issue, as we trace the path of Birgitte Nyborg, the party leader who unexpectedly finds herself in the position to form a coalition government. Bearing in mind that the Danes are used to this form of government, the wheeler-dealing and spinning involved suggests a certain tongue-in-cheek mix of humour and cynicism over their political system. To be honest, I am not sure "Borgen" is a good advertisement for coalitions!

The series introduces non-Danes to some interesting problems, such as relationships with Greenland which has clearly suffered socially from a leaching of its population and a lack of local opportunity. There are also the more familiar topics of sexual equality for women, reducing pollution, corruption in high places, and attempts to control the media.

The characters are mainly strongly developed, with an on-off relationship between two ambitious, attractive characters: on one hand the cynical spin doctor Kasper who is too good for Nyborg not to employ, and on the other the photogenic TV presenter Katrine who cares deeply about free speech and exposing the truth, except, of course in her personal life.

At first, Nyborg's family life seems too good to be true: a handsome husband who has put his career on hold to be the prime carer of their two children. I feared for a few episodes that the series would degenerate into an admittedly well-acted and entertaining soap, but the later episodes gradually inject a darker side, as Nyborg is perhaps inevitably changed by the experience of power. We see how her dedication combined with growing confidence and skills in politicking at work impact on her personal life, where by turns negotiating and acting tough to get one's way are not always either appropriate or sufficient.

My single reservation is disbelief over the lack of domestic support employed by Nyborg to help with her children and running the home. Many working couples with much lesser jobs would have a nanny, and you could say that the Nyborgs' failure to sort this out is implausible and smacks of incompetence.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2012
All I have to say this is fantastic-- a rich - diverse - political twists and trists. More of this wonderfully refreshing Television from Europe is needed. And well done to BBC Four for showing it in the UK. Borgen - Brilliant- beautifully - bodacious beginning to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2012
After so many weasely series that duck hard issues or adopt the far-right agenda, this came as a breath of fresh air. Not only does Borgen seem real (Denmark did get a female PM later), some very difficult things are addressed head on. And the resolutions are based in the notion of individual dignity and mutual respect. Cultural polarization increases as resources per capita shrink. This is the sort of media art that gives me hope for future generations. Now, why does Borgen II (for which I am still checking my mail) cost twice as much?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Oh, Denmark, oh, Denmark, how I love you, how I want to be in Copenhagen! Here we find Birgitte Nyborg, leader of the centre Moderate party, running for and becoming Prime Minister. She is lovely, ambitious, brilliant, and honest. She has a wonderful home life, a husband who stays home with the kids. But, we all know, women can't have everything, and little by little things start to fall apart.

This is a classy tale of politics, before and after the general,election. Birgitte Nyborg, played by Sidse Babett Knuds becomes the country's first female prime minister. We meet spin doctors, ministers of various committees, political intrigue, scandals, love affairs. And everything that goes on in small towns. It seems as if Borgen is a small town. Nyborg's marriage suffers, her children act out as does her husband. What is she to do? We move along with her as she solves one problem after another. Many characters abound, and we come to love and hate some of them. The press and journalism are featured in all their glory. We see familiar faces from the Danish series, 'The Killing'. This is a glorious view of the Danish political scene.

The first ten episodes are spell bounding. I want to know more, thank goodness there are series two and three to come. The acting, the city, the politics are brilliant!

Highly Recommended. prisrob 04-06-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2015
This is one of the fundamental series about politics. Far better than House of cards on my opinion, because it doesn't need big actors, shakesperian dialogues and great events to tell the complexity of politics and still make it clear and entertaining.
It's not the american kind of entertain, meaning that actor don't have to be beautiful, scenes and settings don't have to be perfect, and photography don't have to distract you from the story. It's a story made of many stories, led by the leader's story (a woman, a mother, a wife, with her problems that never become central in her decision even though the series show how normal this people and therefore how everyday life get usually in the way while they're making big decisions). And it doesn't reduce politics and the story itself to a man vs the world, but it's about compromises, it's about not thinking you own the truth and, even then, you can't just impose it to the rest of the world. All with a very well balanced touch where there is not always drama in big decisions, but heart and brain, sine politics has to be approached like an everyday thing, part of our everyday life, made by normal people. And this is maybe the main lesson and the guideline that inspire the whole series
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
About Denmark, this series says more about the U.K. than any other series I have seen! Moreover, it says what many people feel, having a sort of Liberal Democrat but with guts approach we sadly lack here. Do you feel bad about the American rendition policy (if not you are a stupid, inhumane ostrich)? It gets aired in one episode, and with all the difficulties of adopting a decent policy explored too. Not interested in politics? Hm, they will destroy Europe (again) soon if too many people "switch off". While Borgen is based in politics it has scenes of interest to you too. Are there any work-life balance and/or male versus female priority issues in your family/work place? No? Lucky you! But watch anyway, it's so well done, and not knowing the actors helps British viewers accept the very sympathetic characters as virtually real people. I'm saving up to buy the second series. Gill Mulley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2013
Great acting, clever plot and a believable character. A revealing combination of political ambition and the stresses on personal lives originating from the demands of ambition bordering on egocentricity. It shows the positive and negatives of true coalition government and the operation of democracy in a way that is not understood in the UK or USA. The people of UK were reported to have voted for a coalition at the last general election - what nonsense - how can I, as an individual, vote for a coalition with only one party to vote for. Proportional representation gives a working coalition - as the series shows debate and compromise are essential to democratic government. Send a free copy to those with seats in Parliament. Having lived in Denmark I rarely saw voices raised so loud and so often but I guess drama makes demands that exaggerate personality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2014
This account of the mother of a family who almost by accident becomes the Danish prime minister is absolutely gripping. Brilliantly acted throughout. I would strongly recommend to anyone who has any interest in political machinations, the impact of a demanding job on a family and the peculiar difficulties where it is the wife who holds it!
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