Erna i krig (2020) - full transcript

A woman disguises herself as a man to join the army in order to protect her educationally subnormal son who has been called up to fight in WW1.





APRIL 1918


Yes, Kalle.

Are you ponderating?

Yes. I'm pondering.

Tomorrow, I want you
to stay inside all day.


Because some strange men will come
to Bramstrup for you.

- What have I done?
- You haven't done anything.

But they want you to go to war.

I want to go to war.

Can you chop the head off a chicken?

Do you have to do that at war?

No, you have to kill people.

It's not our war.
It's the Germans' war.

- We're German.
- No, we're Southern Jutlanders.

We speak Danish
and that makes us Danish.

But the Germans took Southern Jutland
from Denmark.

You know that.

Shoo, little fly.

Forget it. You're not going.

- I know why.
- Aha?

Who'd be the man of the house if I did?

That's right.

You're so wise.

The dunce who knows that he's...

The dunce who knows he's...

"who knows he's stupid, he..."

...who knows he's stupid,
he is wise.


Go to the bedroom.

Go to the bedroom and stay there.


Guten Tag, Erna Jensen.

- Good day, Constable Meier.
- I'm no longer a constable.

I am now a Feldwebel in the German army.

Kalle Jensen was to report for duty
at Flensborg Garrison yesterday.

You're mistaken, Feldwebel Meier.

Wait here.

What do you think of her?
Is she marriage material?

They say she's never been with a man.

God only knows how she got the boy.

- I complimented you on your sausages.
- I see.

This is a statement from Dr. Madsen
deeming Kalle unfit for service.

Very unfit.

- You're familiar with the boy's head.
- Old statements are invalid.

All men are needed now, old and young.
Also Kalle Jensen.

Erna, pack a bag
and say goodbye to the young man.

- Or else?
- Or else he'll be arrested.

Charged with desertion.

- I want to go to war.
- Hello, Kalle.

- Nice sausage?
- It's my medal for killing a fly.

See? You're going to be a good soldier
for Germany.

Come with us to Flensborg
and say goodbye to Kalle at the garrison.

With pleasure.
I'm going to complain to the general.

Don't set your sights on it.

If you can send Kalle off to war,
you can get me access to the big shots.

Sure looks good, that sausage.

Are you off to war as well, Erna?

If the Kaiser can use Kalle,
he can use me.

Kalle, when you come back home,
I'll treat you to cabbage pudding.

Take care, Kalle.

Mojn, Kalle.

Are you going, too?

Pardon me for asking, Meier,

but when did our Danish constable
take such a liking to the German cause

that he volunteers his life?

My late wife, Hildegard, was German.
It's out of respect for her.

I'm sorry about your wife.

Hildegard was a fine woman,

despite her pro-German sympathies.

Have you never considered
starting a family, Erna?

- I have Kalle.
- Yes, but...

Kalle can hardly fill the marital bed.

If I'm to take this as a proposal,
Feldwebel Meier,

you should've done more to deserve it
than sending my only son off to war.

It's out of my hands.
The orders came from above.

I'm going to talk to the general.

Then I'll come and get you,
and we'll be home before nightfall.

If I don't come for you, run away.

I'll wait for you there, at the barn.


You'll wait here.

Feldwebel Meier here for the Colonel.

The colonel will give you
five minutes... in German.

- Thank you.
- This way.

Remember the sausages.

I'm saving up
to open a charcuterie in Padborg.

It's hard work to put it all together,

and although Kalle isn't very bright,

he helps me spread lard on the bread

and lift potatoes...

I'm sure you understand
that I can't do without him.

Good. Very good.

My dear Frau.

I could jail you on the spot.

But because you're a naïve woman
with a big maternal heart...

I'll let you off the hook.

Your son, Kalle Jensen,

will make a good soldier.

And a dead soldier.



Halt! Stay where you are!

I don't want to go to war.

I don't want to die for Germany.

I want to go to Denmark.

You'll never get across the border
in that state.


We'll swap.

My boy is in the barracks.
He's too stupid for war.

I'm going in to get him.

- 4th floor, dorm 18.
- The Reserve Infantry.

86th Regiment, 8th Company.

The Reserve Infantry.

- 86th Regiment, 8th Company.
- 8th Company.

- What's my name?
- Julius Rasmussen, Løjt Kirkeby.

Julius, right.

Find my uncle, Anton Seiersen.
He helped me.

Anton Seiersen.
The blacksmith from Jels.

Got a knife?




- Three eights.
- Three twos.


My name is Julius Rasmussen.
I want to talk to Anton Seiersen.

Speak Danish.
We're all Danes here.

Except for the kid in the corner.

Right. Which of you is Anton?

- Who are you?
- I'm Julius.

Julius Rasmussen from Løjt Kirkeby,
your nephew.

Is that so?

That is so.

What's going on?

I helped your nephew.
We swapped clothes.

Julius is now Erna Jensen
and is on his way across the Danish border.

And you're the real Erna Jensen?

This is my son, Kalle.

He's unfit for war.
I must get him out of here.

Your nephew said you could help me.

We all want to get out of here.

But it's too late.

They're shooting deserters now.

- Julius was lucky.
- Exactly.

Julius was lucky.

Aiding a deserter is
punishable by 10 years.

Are you threatening me... Erna Jensen?

I helped your nephew to Denmark.

Call me Julius for all our sakes.

Just until I get Kalle back home.

This is Julius Rasmussen.

My nephew.

Has anyone got a problem with that?


If they find out, we'll all be punished.

And that's why we'll all
keep our mouths shut.

Until Julius gets his son out of here.

What's going on?

- Schmidt, Karl Heinz!
- Yes, sir.

- Volmer, Hans Ludwig.
- Yes, sir.

- Stegman, Dieter.
- Yes, sir.

- Kaufmann, Ernst.
- Yes, sir.

- Lehmann, Wilhelm.
- Yes, sir.

- Poulsen, Christian.
- Yes, sir.

- Müller, Fritz.
- Yes, sir.

- Seiersen, Anton Dam.
- Yes, sir.

- Hansen, Mathias.
- Yes, sir.

Negligent buttoning.
Make a note of it.

- Rasmussen, Julius Dam.
- Yes, sir.

- Petersen, Max.
- Yes, sir.

- Karlsen, Jakob.
- Yes, sir.

Nikolajsen, Niels.




Five o'clock. All rise!

Five o'clock. All rise!

Helmet, cartridge belt.

- Helmet.
- Cartridge belt.

Gas mask.
From now on, your trusted companion.


Gas mask.
From now on, your trusted companion.

- Meier.
- From now on...

And who are you?

Julius Rasmussen, the Reserve Infantry,
86th Regiment.

Julius Rasmussen, I see.

- Next.
- If you get Kalle and me out of here...

then my door is open.

From now on, your trusted companion.


Everyone out.

Julius Rasmussen stays.

Erna Jensen.

I don't know what you imagined.
You'll never get Kalle out of here.

- But I can show you to the gate--
- If I can't get Kalle out...

then I'll go off to war with Kalle.

I am where Kalle is.

I thought as much.

I thought as much.

And you... offered me your hand.

That I did. To save Kalle.


Can I trust that offer?

One good turn deserves another.

Very well.


Men, in here!

How many of you seriously believe
that this is Julius Rasmussen?

No one?

You know that Julius Rasmussen
is a woman disguised as a soldier?

- Anton said--
- Is Julius Rasmussen a woman in disguise,

- yes or no?
- Yes.

- Woman or man?
- Woman.


You are in contempt
of the Imperial Prussian Army.

And at wartime, at that.

- They have nothing to do--
- Silence!

You have been concealing
illegitimate personnel.

That is a war crime.

It's one thing how each of you
will fare in a Prussian dungeon.

But what about your families?

What about your sweethearts?
Wives and children?

Mothers? Fathers?

Can you let them down?

Can you bring shame on your families?
For many generations to come.


You don't know how lucky you are.
I can guarantee your freedom.

And your honor.

I'm taking over command of this squad.

I can get you out of this mess.

But it will take courage
and manly pluck.

And teamwork.

You see, Julius Rasmussen here...
hasn't been reported missing.

Julius Rasmussen is right here.

And Julius Rasmussen
will remain in service.

It's your only chance.

Any objections?

It is indeed an extraordinary situation.

But consider it a sign.

Consider Julius Rasmussen
a guardian angel.

Say hello to your new mate,
Kalle Jensen from Bramstrup.

- And you and I have an agreement.
- Yes, Meier.

As long as you look out for Kalle.

Present arms. March!

One, two, three...

Under the wire...


- Kalle, do you want to smoke?
- Kalle doesn't smoke.

Bayonets out. Charge.

Mutti, are you done yet?

I'm done.

MAY 1918

From your daughter?


It's a flag, or...

it's a shield.

She sewed it herself.

- I promised her to bring it back home.
- Put that flag away.

- Seiersen.
- Why?

Because it's Danish. In this coach,
we're Germans with good German morale.

No, Feldwebel Meier. In this coach,
we're neither Germans nor Danes.

We're cattle to the slaughter.



We should agree on
when we want to be shot.

For instance, if your leg is torn off.
Then, do you want to get shot?

A leg isn't enough.

Not an arm, either.

Shrapnel that leaves you
paralyzed from the neck down?

From the neck down?

Shoot me.

What if you're shot in the head?

My uncle knows a fellow from Gram
who was shot in the head.

He's doing fine,

but he's got a big hole
that you can see straight through.

Everyone from Gram has got
a hole in their heads.

Mathias, we need to agree on a sign.

Oh, come on.


Everybody out.
We'll stop here for 15 minutes.

We depart in precisely 15 minutes.

Last stop before the front.

Keep still!

If you scream,

you'll die.

That guy. He looks like a woman.

You do look like a woman.

It's true.

Where's Max Petersen?

Max Petersen followed you
into the woods,

and no one has seen him since.

Did you see Max Petersen in the woods?

This house is now
in Germany's possession.

You've got blood on your hand.

I'm a woman by nature...

and women bleed.

This is where we'll stay
until we're sent to the front.

But it seems this war wasn't
meant for women who bleed.

Very well.

I will tell the commander
that Max Petersen has deserted.

- Have you seen Kalle?
- Have you checked the pram?

I won't allow it! Don't ever go
into the water when I'm not there!

- It was the world record--
- Stay out of it!

Are you ponderating?

Yes, Kalle.

I'm pondering.

Off to a ball?

Kalle and I are
taking the train back home.

Dressed like that?

Both of you?

Before you reach Cologne station,
you'll be raped and gutted.

No women travel by train.

Kalle and I need to get away from here.

There's no escape from here.

I killed Max.

He followed me in the woods.

He was going to take me.

I found a rock and hit him on the head.

Are you sure he's dead?

You'd better pray
that you finished off Max in the woods.

And he had it coming.


Meier says you're our guardian angel.

A fine guardian angel...

who kills.

Forget Bramstrup.

Forget the ball.


dance here.

When you're done fooling around,
come down to the kitchen.

And take off that silly frock!
At once!

I've just met with Hauptmann Schultz.

Word is, there's a traitor among us.

A woman disguised as a soldier.

At tomorrow's drill, all soldiers
will be ordered to drop their trousers.

Anyone who can't produce their manhood
will go to the Imperial prison camp.

Including those who have abetted
the traitor — that is all of us.

So I've registered the Reserve Infantry,
86th Regiment, 7th Squad

as volunteers as of tonight.

There's dysentery at the front.
Headquarters needs K1 volunteers.

- What's K1?
- The foremost frontline.

- The meat grinder.
- Oh, come now.

Come now...
This part of the front is dead.

Not a shot fired in three months.
They're sick of war here.

This stays between us. I have it from
Hauptmann Schultz's own mouth.

The enemy is folding.

Worn out.

The war could end anytime.

After 10 days of volunteer service
you get a fortnight's leave.

- In 10 days, we get to go home?
- Correct.

10 cushy days at the front,
a fortnight's leave, possibly to go home.

Oddly enough, the front is
the safest place to be for us.

- Where's Max Petersen?
- He deserted.

But they're going to find the coward

and punish him.

- Soup.
- Schnapps!

- Fresh bread.
- Hot soup.

Good schnapps.

Fresh bread.

- Last week's bread, quite fresh.
- Water, schnapps.


- Good bread.
- Soup.

- Hot soup.
- Hot bread.

- Soup for you.
- Fresh bread.

They're just flares
over no man's land.

They're watching each other
to keep each other at bay.

You eat like a pig, Kalle.

Haven't you taught the idiot
any manners?

The Reserve Infantry,
86th Regiment, 7th Squad

reporting for duty.

I am Feldwebel Meier,
and these are my men.

Welcome to the world's asshole.

From now on, it's your job to defend
this section of the German Reich.

These 12 meters, to be exact.

From midnight till dawn,
you're on two-hour shifts,

two men at a time.

During the day,
you switch to four-hour shifts,

one man at a time.

You stand on this ledge

and keep a vigilant eye
on no man's land...

and fire at anything that moves.


But the good thing is
nothing moves.

The French have given up.

Hello, frogs!
Aren't you going to attack?

Shut up, kraut, and beat your meat...
if you can find it!


The French have capitulated.

Men, on your feet!

Prepare for utterly boring shifts,

horrible food, unbearable lice,

and rats that are even naughtier
than the little French whores!

- Good luck.
- Thanks.

- Any questions?
- Where are we going to live?

It's not the Kempinski in Hamburg,
but it's the safest room on the front.

Three layers of sleepers in the ceiling.
10 meters under...

We're in good hands.

Fritz, your shift.

Mutti, my shift.

Did you say Mutti?

How old are you?


You don't look 18.

I just turned 18.


I'm actually... 15.

Then why do you pretend to be 18?

Why do you pretend to be a man?

You ought to be at home
with your parents.

My father was shot
on the Eastern Front,

and my big brother and uncle
here on the Western Front.

Does you mother know where you are?

I want to avenge the men in my family.

Where is Kalle's father?

Kalle hasn't got a father.

Was he killed in the war as well?


Kalle has never known his father.

- And his mother...
- You can be my mother.

While we're here.

Kalle. Get up.

Does the blacksmith from Jels
have a nice, clean house?

Tablecloth on the table?

Are there any dead rats
under the blacksmith's sofa?

No. Because back home,
your wife does the cleaning.

But here, I'm not your wife,
in case you didn't know.

I'm nobody's wife.

Or mother. We may be at war,
but we can still keep the place tidy.

Erna, put on your helmet.

Good, Kalle.


- Come on, Kalle. We'll go back down.
- Is Kalle a girl?

It's funny.
Erna is a man, and Kalle is a girl.

Kalle, go back down. Now.

Would you rather be at war without me?


I can do it.


I can do it!

This is nice.

Thank you, Kalle and Mutti.

At the house of blacksmith from Jels

we have a flag.

It gives us hope.

- Schnapps!
- Soup.

- A bottle of schnapps.
- Thanks.



- Schnapps for you.
- Soup.


Good day.

I need some of your bravest men

if it comes to a confrontation.

Is that understood, Feldwebel Meier?

- One moment.
- Good.

Who asked you two to fetch food?
I sent Seiersen and Hansen for provisions.

- Mathias Hansen has the runs.
- But I give the orders around here.

- With all due respect, Feldwebel--
- Shut up!

Seiersen, you're on
barbed wire duty tonight.

- Understood?
- Yes.

- "Yes, Herr Feldwebel Meier!"
- Yes, Herr Feldwebel Meier.

Two more.

We need two more.

Any volunteers?

Very well. Kalle Jensen.

You can't!

Seiersen, Poulsen and young Kalle Jensen
are on barbed wire duty.

We see you, you huns!

Get lost, or we'll shoot!

Fall back!

Fall back!

- Kalle!
- I'm not finished.

- Come back!
- I'm not finished.

Kalle, come on!

You were supposed to look out for Kalle.

He made it.

- He made it just fine.
- Because Anton risked his life.

Is anything going on
between you and Anton?

Yes, Meier.

Anton and I are both Danes
in a war that isn't ours.

You could have killed Kalle.

You and me are finished!

Three more days in the world's asshole.

And then I'm going home
to fuck myself stupid.

Kalle, are you going home
to fuck yourself stupid?

Yes, because the dunce
who knows that he's stupid, he's wise.

That's right, Kalle.

What about you, Feldwebel Meier?

Are you going home to...

earth up potatoes?

Stop that, Kalle!
Put it away.


Not a damn thing happens, anyway.

Am I right, Meier?

Can we talk?

In private.

I want to show you something.

I'm Danish as well.

- Well... just so you know.
- Fine.

Erna, as... a widower

you don't spend much.

So I've saved up.

I'd like to buy a charcuterie for you.

Haven't you always wanted your own shop?

Selling sausages and sandwiches?

Was that all?

Please hold me.

Just hold me.

Erna, you're my wife.

- You're my wife.
- Meier...

And I'm your husband.

I am Private Julius Rasmussen,
and you're my Feldwebel.

We are soldiers, and we are at war.


Meier, your gas mask!

Meier, your mask!

Remember our agreement.


We've got a few packs of crackers,
some bread, three tins of goulash.

Lard... How much water?

- Three and a half.
- Three and a half bottles of water.

We don't know
how long we have to be down here.

It could be a couple of hours,

a day, or several weeks.

And when it quiets down...

When the bombardment stops...

they'll come storming
across the field.

Then you'll grab your rifles
and hurry out of here. Understood?


- Understood?
- Yes, Feldwebel Anton.

We're on guard duty four hours at a time.
Who wants to start?


What day is this?


It's Kalle's birthday on Saturday.

Saturday is a long way off.


Yes, pancakes.

- That's our drinking water.
- But Saturday is Kalle's birthday.

He always has pancakes.

Kalle doesn't give a damn
about his birthday.

But I do.

Don't you sing for Kalle
on his birthday?


Well, we do at the
house of blacksmith from Jels.

♪ It's been raining
And it has been intense. ♪

♪ It's been stormy
And windy in our nook. ♪

♪ Seeds of weed have flown
All across the fence ♪

♪ We are burdened
Our mouths are under lock. ♪

♪ Seasons change as they may ♪

♪ And the light found its way ♪

♪ But the storm came
And claimed its bitter prey. ♪

♪ It's been raining
But with the rain came growth. ♪

♪ It's been stormy... ♪


Lower your gun.

Mutti, can I have another pancake?

- Meier?
- Meier...

Meier, come back!

Meier, don't go up there.

- Meier!
- Meier, come back!

What did you promise Meier?



If he got Kalle and me home alive.

One good turn deserves another.

Did you like him?

We were from the same little village.

He was our local constable.

But did you like him the way...

The way you like your wife?

We have children.


What about Kalle's father?

Kalle was supposed to have been...



He was an unwanted child
who was placed on my doorstep one night.

Some farm girl
probably got in trouble.

That's usually the case.

Every town has someone...

who takes care of that kind of thing.

- A baby farmer.
- Yes.

It used to be my great-grandmother.

My grandmother took over from her.

Then my mother,
and when she died...

it was my turn.

That kind of thing is handed down.

How many?

None after I kept Kalle.

And why not Kalle?

Because he was stronger than me.

I've never held a child

so long under water
as I did that little runt.

I just kept going and going.

I suppose that's why he is like he is.

Lack of air.


From then on, I stopped.

And I promised God to take care
of Kalle for the rest of my life.

And I promised
I'd never bring a child into the world.

Imagine if it was a girl.

Like me.

That's why I've never been with a man.

What do you think about that?

I think that Kalle is lucky.

To have such a good and strong mother.

But I also think that it's time
for Kalle to manage on his own.

Stand on his own two feet.

- He can't.
- Yes, he can.

And you're going to let him.

Your every thought and move
have been about Kalle.

Who has taken care of you?

Have you never felt a longing,
Erna Jensen?



Christian is doing the sign.
He wants to die.

Shoot him.

You made a deal with him.

And you stick to a deal
with your best friend.

- Where?
- In his forehead.


I can't.

- I can do it.
- No, Kalle.

But I can.

Christian! Christian!

It's all your fault!

It's your fault!



Mathias, we have to wrap him up.


Yes, Kalle.

Are you pondering?

Yes, I'm pondering.

What are you pondering?

That you're all grown up.

I don't think I'll grow more up,

because it's all over soon.

I'll do it.

I'll go find food and water.

I don't care if I die.

I know what I'm doing.

I'm sorry, Erna.






Bread? Bon appétit.


The war is over!
The war is over!

The war is over!

Madame, the commandant wants
to talk to you.


You are a woman.

You are a woman.

There are no regulations for
transporting female French POWs.

There are no handover agreements
for female POWs.

I have signed
a personal travel document,

ensuring you a safe passage home
on a guarded train.

My time here has been good for me.

And I'm very grateful
that I was brought here.

No, we're grateful

for your Southern Jutlandic cuisine.

I gather you've been reunited
with one of your mates in the camp?


Max Petersen.

Max Petersen.

Is Kalle coming today?

No, Kalle won't be coming today either.

Poor Petersen.

"Erna Jensen, Bramstrup."

Yes, that's me.

You'll have to make your own way
to the station.

15 kilometers on foot along the river.





Are you getting off, madam?

You're getting off here, aren't you?

Excuse me...

would you please wake the sleeping soldier
when you near Vojens?

That's his stop.

And please give him this.
It's a shield.

Is there a name?


Oh, there you are, Erna.

- I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.
- Go and see to your house.

And then I want you both
to come here and eat.




Look, Mutti.

I got a medal.

For bringing back Feldwebel Meier.

They called me a war hero.

Meier came back home as well.

He's lying up by the church.

What happened?

I think it's your new little sister.

Do you think she's stupid like me?

There's no one like you, Kalle.