The account of the unforgettable damage caused by war is endless. “The Bombardment” brings forth the catastrophic collateral damage caused during Operation Carthage in Denmark, a British air raid conducted towards the end of World War II. While the target was to bomb the Shell house, which used to be the headquarters of the Gestapo, a misunderstanding led to the bombing of a nearby school as well. The bombing led to the deaths of 86 school students, along with 18 adults, including the teachers and sisters. The film masterfully retells the story of the innocent lives lost in this horrific event and how the innocent children had to face the brutal impact of the war.
From the first scene, we witnessed how a mistaken target led to the deaths of three young women going to a wedding along with their driver. Instead of attacking the enemy, the British air fighters had taken the lives of innocent civilians by mistake. A young boy named Henry watched the burning car while he was on his way home carrying eggs. The gruesomeness he witnessed led to his complete loss of speech. His mother then decided to send him to Copenhagen, where he would live with his cousin. After being exposed to the ghastly scenario, Henry found it difficult to speak without shedding tears. His cousin, Rigmor, became his constant companion. She introduced him to her friend, Eva, whom she believed could help Henry as she too had faced a similar incident. Eva had witnessed a shootout on the street and had physically recovered from the trauma. Eva and Rigmor included Henry in all their activities, from purifying a loaf of bread to helping him face his fear. The three soon became close friends, and with Rigmor, Henry learned to smile.
With war and its brutality all-around, a Catholic nun was in search of God. She questioned his inaction at a time when the world needed him the most. She punished herself, hoping there would be a day when God would show Himself to her for her penance. She met a member of the secret police of Nazi Germany named Frederik and called him out for being the devil. It was her direct verbal attack that caused a certain change of heart in the official. He knew that his allegiance would cost him his life, but before that, he hoped to cleanse himself of his sins in front of God.
The film reaches its climax when the bombing starts, and the characters with whom the audience had established a connection are eventually trapped in the horrific event. In the end, the film manages to touch upon the innocence of the schoolchildren; we watch Eva escape the bombardment to reach back home and finish the bowl of porridge her father had scolded her for not having. He had implied that the lack of food would be the reason for her death at some point, and that comment did stay with her till the very end.
“The Bombardment” reminds the audience of the thousands of lives lost in war, figures that often remain as nothing more than just the count of casualties. Avoiding any blame game, the film emphasizes the effect of war on innocent lives. In particular, the effect that brutality has on children is conveyed. The film is able to skillfully build a narrative around the incident. The individual tales become crucial in the war drama films. The cry of the sister when she was trapped with Rigmor in the basement can make the audience shudder. Amidst the hopelessness of war, the film brilliantly develops Henry’s character, who finds his voice in helping those in distress.
The convincing performances of the entire cast make the film all the more engaging to watch. The gradual build-up to the harrowing event was well executed. The film establishes the suddenness of the incident, be it from the perspective of the victim or the British air force. After all, what could be more agonizing than a mistaken attack, a human error of judgment that led to several deaths? Especially when the civilians were looking forward to the eradication of the Nazis from the country. The savior turned into a devourer within the span of a few seconds, at least for those who were present at the school.
With a linear narrative and minimal technical jargon, the film is simple in its approach but effective nonetheless. “The Bombardment” is not a cinematic masterpiece but definitely deserves a watch, especially by those who are interested in war films in particular.