The Bastard: Everything We Know So Far About The Historical Epic Starring Mads Mikkelsen

Dark, violent historical epics have a special place in my heart, and the upcoming Mads Mikkelsen film "The Bastard" looks like it will be period-piece perfection. The film, which stars Mikkelsen as a 17th-century soldier charged with taking over a large swath of land for the king of Denmark, looks like the kind of movie that belongs alongside "The Northman" or "Valhalla Rising," which also starred Mikkelsen. The upcoming Danish-language film is still in production, so there aren't many marketing materials to share just yet. Thankfully, there are at least some great behind-the-scenes stills shared by the production company behind "The Bastard," Zentropa. 

While it's still early, there are some interesting details available about the film, including the premise, possible release window, and more about the cast and crew. Here's everything we know so far about this moody-looking cinematic slice of Scandinavian history. 

When and where to watch The Bastard

According to Zentropa's press release, "The Bastard" is being filmed in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the Danish island of Jutland, with plans for a local theatrical release in the fall of 2023. This is the kind of flick that's likely to also make the festival circuit, and may not get a wide release in the United States. Here's hoping that it does well enough to hit some art theaters stateside, because those of us mad for Mikkelsen will want to check this out, even if it's not until early 2024.

What we think The Bastard will be about

"The Bastard" is based on the 2020 Danish bestselling Ida Jessen novel "The Captain and Ann Barbara," which takes place in 1755 and follows the battle for the Jutland heath in Denmark at that time. The Jutland heath is the last piece of wilderness in the otherwise "civilized" Denmark, and King Frederik V wants it tamed, though no one has been able to tackle the fierce wilderness or its inhabitants. Then, Captain Ludvig Kahlen (Mikkelsen) sets off on his own to try and colonize the heath, fighting both man and beast along the way. He finds an ally in a runaway housekeeper named Ann Barbara (Amanda Collin from "Raised By Wolves"), and together the two face off against the harsh environment and even harsher people who live there. The novel and film were inspired by real events.

Here's the official description of "The Captain and Ann Barbara," to give more of an idea about the plot:

"The Captain and Ann Barbara" is a Nordic western set in the middle of the 1700s – a time when the uncultivated lands had yet to be conquered. It is about a doggedly uncompromising German captain, his fight against the forces of nature, his great dreams and even greater sacrifices – and about the woman who becomes his beloved and ally. An epic and brutal story about cold war between unrelenting men, about wanderlust and revenge, discipline and love, ruin and the purest of evils.

This is all appropriately epic, and a "Nordic western" sounds like a sublime bit of genre-bending. 

What we know about the cast of The Bastard

In addition to Mikkelsen as the captain and Collin as Ann Barbara, Simon Bennebjerg ("The Pact") stars as the captain's main opponent, a local landlord named Frederik de Schinkel. Gustav Lindh ("The Northman") will play a priest named Anton Eklund, who becomes an unlikely ally of the captain. Kristine Kujath Thorp ("Ninjababy") plays de Schinkel's cousin Eden Helene, who becomes caught between the landlord and the captain in a life-threatening war between power and love. 

The rest of the cast includes Melina Hagberg, Gustav Lindh, Morten Hee Andersen, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Jacob Lohmann, Olaf Højgaard, Magnus Krepper, Søren Malling, and Morten Burian. 

Fans might know Mikkelsen best as the charismatic cannibal on NBC's "Hannibal" series or as Grindelwald in "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore," while Collin has gained the most attention for playing the android matriarch Mother on the HBO series "Raised by Wolves." 

What we know about the crew of The Bastard

"The Bastard" was written by Anders Thomas Jensen and Nikolaj Arcel, based on the novel by Jessen. Arcel will direct, reuniting him with Madsen for the first time since the two collaborated on "A Royal Affair" in 2012. Fans might remember Jensen and Arcel as the team behind the disastrous "The Dark Tower" movie adaptation in 2017, but the fault for that mess definitely doesn't lay entirely at their feet. The Danish-language, historical epic of "The Bastard" is much more in their comfort zone, and Mikkelsen just sweetens the deal.

More information about "The Bastard" will be on /Film as it's released!