Bold, provocative, and irritating. Childish, petulant, and oversexed. All this can be said of an early 18th-century Danish–Norwegian, the Great Northern war hero Peter Wessel Tordenskjold. These descriptors apply just as well to Satisfaction 1720, a bawdy film romp based very loosely on Tordenskjold’s short, colourful life. Norwegian director Henrik Ruben Genz’s modern take on the outlandish adventures of Tordenskjold and his manservant Kold recalls Sophia Coppola’s mash-up Marie Antoinette, which featured that teenage monarch in Converse sneakers.

In Satisfaction 1720 Norwegian heart-throb Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki) portrays Tordenskjold as a bewigged 29-year-old nobleman/rock star on tour in his coach from Copenhagen to Hanover. The former Vice Admiral in the Royal Dano–Norwegian Navy, Tordenskjold laments the fact that his glorious victory over the Swedes at the Battle of Dynekilen is nothing but a sweet memory.

Fretful and bored, now that he has no battles to fight, he cuts a swathe through the Hanseatic towns of northern Germany – regaling sailors and aristocratic audiences with his tales of sea battles (“Hello Hamburg!”), boozing outrageously, bedding baronesses, insulting gentlemen, and generally leaving disaster in his wake. Women swoon at the sight of him; outraged officers bide their time and plot revenge. It’s obvious that, like larger-than-life personalities then and now, he’s on a path to early self-destruction. Long-suffering valet Kold, played by the wonderful Martin Buch, though shamefully mistreated by Tordenskjold, stoically cleans up his master’s physical and emotional messes. Still, Tordenskjold and Kold have a sort of understanding that almost borders on friendship.

Satisfaction 1720 is a satisfactorily lusty tall tale, a redo of the life of a beloved and infamous Scandinavian anti-hero. Some might be put off by the characters’ intermittent use of modern English expletives, Tordenskjold’s total lack of political correctness, or the film’s nudity. These all undeniably added to its charms. The film’s costumes and settings are glorious, while Henrik Skram’s eclectic score conjures up everything from Baroque quartets to stadium anthems.

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CategoriesIssue 15 Reviews
Brenda Benthien

Brenda Benthien is a program consultant and the Guest Relations Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival. She works in Guest Management at the Nordic Film Days in Lübeck and serves as a consultant to the Cinetopia International Film Festival in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Brenda was involved with starting up AFI Fest in Los Angeles, and has lived and worked in Munich and Tokyo. When she isn’t busy with festivals, Brenda is a German translator of screenplays and film-related texts. Her translation of Rudolf Arnheim’s Film Essays and Criticism is published by the University of Wisconsin press. Brenda lives in Hamburg and runs the Hamburg Review website, a critical compendium of writings on film and literature.