The Promised Land is the International Feature submission for Denmark. Set in the 18th century, the king has been trying to turn and develop the wild heath of Jutland into a productive, prosperous and tax-paying territory of the kingdom. Many have tried to create a life in this area but they’ve all failed as it’s currently being run by a group of outlaws and animals. In 1755, Ludwig Kahlen has come up with an idea of how to upstart this wild territory and after much convincing, the Royal Treasury agree to let him attempt to do the impossible. All he wants in return is to become a noble, own an estate, and have servants.
Ludwig is the illegitimate son of a maid and her master. And his determination is driven by earning himself a proper title and a glorious home. This drive sets him off for Jutland, and the harsh environment that awaits him. Along the way, he befriends the local priest and recruits two runaway servants to help him get started. His goal is to be able to harvest potatoes, which are a hidden treasure at the time, and can handle most weather. But life is chaotic and never goes as planned. Frederik de Schinkel, a powerful, ruthless aristocratic judge, claims that this land belongs to him and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and that is to earn a profit from the same land. This begins a never ending power struggle between the two men.
The Promised Land is a classic Scandinavian drama about human frailty. It is also a deep-etched picture of a vicious past where the poor had no rights and were subject to the unjust laws of the people in power. The rich could do whatever they wanted from raping their servants, from killing workers, from claiming land, to changing the laws so that it benefited them entirely. They would only get richer, while the poor got poorer. And Ludwig became a threat to Frederik, which was why he wanted to prevent him from gaining the wealth and power he so desperately wanted.
Ludwig is so hard headed in his mission to get his dreams fulfilled that he slowly begins to perpetuate the chaos around him. He squashes his relationships with his newfound family in Jutland. He unintentionally has his workers killed. He prolongs his battle with Frederik. And all of it for the sake of fortune. Is it all worth it in the end?
A land promised to bring wealth and status might seem like the perfect motivation to do whatever it takes to get it, but during that journey a different way of life might end up being better.