REDBAD: Banking on success
One of the most eagerly awaited Dutch films of 2018 is Redbad, the historical, action-packed epic about the rise of Christianity and the ancient legends surrounding the Frisian king Redbad. Director Roel Reiné talks Vikings, running times and Jonathan Banks.
In AD 754 Northern Europe is divided. Above the rivers there is an alliance of Frisians, Saxons and Danes. Below the rivers, the Franks are all-powerful and desperate to seize control of Europe’s most important trade centre, ruled over by the Frisian king Redbad. Their aim is to do what the Romans never managed to do, and conquer all of Europe, using the new weapon of Christianity to subjugate the heathens.
One of the elements that has contributed to the film’s commercial success to date has been the casting of Breaking Bad star Jonathan Banks as Pepin, Lord of the Franks. “I am a huge fan of Jonathan Banks so for me it was a kind of no-brainer to put him in the movie,” comments director Reiné. “Redbad tells an international story, so I wanted it to have an international look and feel, and you do that by hiring international actors.”
“I learned in America that putting in TV stars is very good for the film’s commercial prospects, especially now that TV is so strong... so Jonathan was a really good move both in having a great character actor in my film to elevate it, making it very cool and emotional, but at the same time to make it very commercial.”
Redbad also stars Dutch actor Gijs Naber (The Heineken Kidnapping), who plays the eponymous hero, and Danish actor Søren Malling, star of the TV hit series The Killing and Borgen, who plays the wise and charismatic Danish king Wiglek. The $7 million Dutch and English-language production shot in Denmark, northern Germany, at Castle Bouillon in Belgium, the rugged nature reserves on the North Sea islands and the tidal flats and marshlands of de Oude Venen in the Dutch province of Friesland. The vast battle sequences were shot around a prehistoric village near Eindhoven.
The film, supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, is far from short, coming in at two hours and 40 minutes, but any fears that Reiné had about its length were allayed by distributors and theatre managers after they visited the set and saw footage to date.
“I was nervous as I felt it would be very long for theatres who can only screen it once per evening, but the theatre owners were very open to it. They all told me ‘make the film as long as you want’, that it is going to be an event that people will go to the for the whole evening,” stresses the director. “Also, my last film Admiral (2015, 130 minutes) was very successful. In that year it was the only Dutch movie in the Dutch top ten, between Jurassic World and The Fast and the Furious 7, so I think that the theatres were very anxious to get another movie from the same team.” Reiné’s producer is once more Klaas de Jong of FarmHouse TV and Film.
At the time of writing, Reiné is in the thick of post-production. He has just watched the first three reels with a “beautiful” musical score newly added (written by long-term collaborator Trevor Morris), and every day he is receiving updated vfx shots from Belgium prior to the final mix.
“This is the point where all the really good stuff happens,” Reiné enthuses. “For me, sound and music is 70% of the movie experience so I place a lot of emphasis on it. Seeing how the film comes to life in sound is magical, such as the use of wind in the film – we have hundreds of different sounds for the winds that will occupy this world...Yes, I love this process. Every day the movie gets better – and more emotional.”
Redbad will world premiere June 28 in The Netherlands.
SEE NL Magazine #31 May 2018 / Cannes & Annecy Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.