Oskar and Josefine standing outside his grandparents’ house.
Oskar and Josefine is a fantasy action/adventure film about two 12 year old Danish kids who go time time traveling 400 years into the past and then get involved in the lives of the people they meet there. The film is a sequel to a Danish television series (Josefine and Jesus) in which Josefine (Pernille Kaae Høier) goes time traveling back to the time of Jesus using a time machine from a man named Thorsen (Kjeld Nørgaard). Thorsen turns out to be the devil and wants her to persuade Jesus to give up hope so that evil would prevail. But Josephine resists Thorsen and defeats him with her friend, Oskar (Mikkel Konyher). Josefine falls in love with Oskar and agrees to give up time traveling. She tells Oskar that she wants to live a normal life. After a brief narration that summarizes the above information, the film begins at the Copenhagen train station where Josefine and her family are waiting for Oskar. Oskar and Josefine are going to travel to a small rural village in Jutland to visit Oskar’s grandparents and be there for the traditional Nordic midsummer festival. Oskar finally arrives at the station and the two say goodby to Josefine’s family and board the train. During the trip there, Josefine dozes off and has a nightmare about Thorsen who appears larger than life and tells Josefine that she owes him her life. When she wakes up shaken by her dream, Oskar says “Thorsen again” Josefine swears that she is through with Thorsen, but this scene is just a premonition of events to come. When they arrive at the village, Oskar’s grandmother Gudrun (Margrethe Koytu) meets them at the train station and drives them to their farmhouse in the nearby country. There they meet Oskar’s grandfather Poul (Niels Borksand) who has quite an interest in their family geneology, and has traced their family tree over hundreds of years.
Oskar and Josefine visit his grandparents’ farm house in the country.
Oskar and Josefine have a very close friendship, although at age twelve it hasn’t yet evolved to a physical relationship. Both Josefine’s parents and Oskar’s grandparents seem very accepting of their close relationship and that they will probably get married. It does seem premature for two twelve year old kids to be treated this way and to be spending all their time together at such a young age. Nevertheless it is a charming relationship. The film gives us a couple of scenes where Josefine expresses some jealousy at Oskar when they meet another girl in the village who turns out to be Oskar’s ex-girlfriend. The next day after they arrive in the country, Oskar and Josefine decide to go swimming. Josefine decides to go on ahead by herself through the nearby countryside, leaving Oskar at the barn where he is fixing up a motorized bicycle that he found there. On her walk Josefine meets Thorsen again, but this time he apperas as a feeble and repentent old man. Thorsen tells Josefine that he has a gift for her. Thorsen then transforms a medallion Josefine has around her neck into a device for time travel. All she has to do is touch something old then touch the medallion and she will be transported back in time to when that object was brand new. There’s one other condition: she can only do this three times. Unsure of what it means, Josefine accepts the gift. When she turns around, Thorsen has vanished. Just then Oskar drives up on the motorbike, and the two have some fun riding around the country side.
Oskar checks out a motor bike in his grandfather’s barn.
Back at the farm house, Oskar and Josefine prepare a life-sized doll of a witch for the traditional witch-burning bonfire on midsummers eve. While looking around for clothing for the doll, Josefine finds a pair of old trousers. Curious to see if the medallion works, she has Oskar hold onto the medallion and the trousers with her, and in a meteoric flash of light they are transported 400 years back in time. They discover that they are still at the location of Oskar’s grandparents house; but it is the house their ancestors lived in. Here they meet Peder (Adam Gilbert Jespersen) whose sister Kirsten (Anna Egholm) is ill, near death. They watch in horror as the local physician administers leeches as a cure for the six year old girl’s malady. Oskar and Josefine use the medallion to return back to modern times. They ask Oskar’s grandfather who Kirsten was and why she died so young. Grandfather explains that back then they didn’t have antibiotics like penicillin, so Kirsten probably died of something as easy to cure today as a throat infection. When Josefine asks where she can get some penicillin, she is told that Oskar’s grandparents actually have a supply of it, because the grandfather refuses to take any medications. Later that night, Josefine decides she wants to help Kirsten by going back in time and giving her penicillin. Oskar (and rightly so) is wary of this plan. In his opinion, she shouldn’t use the medallion at all, but Josefine cannot bear the thought of Kirsten dying when she can actually do something to save her. Josefine finds Oskar’s grandparents’ stash of penicillin and travels back in time, saving Kirsten’s life. When this turns out to be successful, Josefine goes one step further and takes an entire backpack of modern medicines back in time to save more people. Soon what she is doing catches the attention of the authorities who come after her thinking that she is a witch. Peder puts his life on the line to help Oskar and Josefine escape back to the present, but Peder is arrested and condemned to death for helping her. Worse than that, by helping people to live that weren’t supposed to, Josefine has changed the history of Oskar’s family, and the branch he comes from no longer exists! His grandparents never married, Peder was beheaded, and Oskar himself is starting to fade away!
Peder, Oskar, and Josefine fight against evil and intolerence.
By rashly using up the three time travels, Josefine now has no way to go back in time and correct what she has caused. She and Oskar go looking for Thorsen, and beg him to give the medallion more power. He gives them one more round of time travel, but he has some evil surprises for the two when they go back. Josefine is able to rescue Peder, but she ends up being captured for trial and execution as a witch while Oskar is knocked unconscious and left in a ditch. Thorsen turns out to be the main force behind this turn of events! The story line continues along like this as the battle between good and evil and the forces of enlightenment versus ignorance square off for a number of confrontations as Josefine, Oskar and Peder try to right the wrongs done and restore Oskar’s family.
Josefine shows Oskar the special medalion she received.
Oskar and Josefine doesn’t cover any new territory plotwise. A lot of the story line involving time travel and someone messing with events in the space-time continuum we have seen before in films like Back to the Future. And there is the typical action/adventure device of placing the young heroes into the reality of an concept they hear about. In this film the midsummer Nordic festival that Oskar and Josefine come to attend with its ceremonial witch burning bonfire is contrasted with an actual witchcraft trial for Josefine in the 17th century. Putting that aside, the film itself is quite entertaining. It really is too bad that this film hasn’t received any distribution in DVD Region 1 (North American and Canada) because this film would do quite well in that market. Right now the only way you can watch it is if you have a region free DVD player. The published DVD is a Region 2 (Europe) edition and has English subtitles. One reason the film is successful is due to the excellent acting work of the three main characters, Oskar played by Mikkel Konyher, Josefine played by Pernille Kaae Høier, and Peder played by Adam Gilbert Jespersen. Mikkel Konyher exhibits a lot of natural charm and charisma as Josefine’s faithful boy friend. He never seems overly assertive or pushy in his characterization, yet his presence in the film keeps Josefine from going too overboard in her exploits, and when the chips are down he can be counted on to be there for her. Pernille Kaae Høier plays Josefine with a warm intensity and innocence that only a young child can truly have. Her dialogues against injustice and ignorance are quite moving. Adam Gilbert Jespersen turns out to be the swashbuckling hero of the film, and he has some great stunts and battles in the film. Jespersen’s performance makes you believe that he was indeed a great ancestor for Oskar to have. The cinemaphotography by Henrik Kristensen is another reason that North American audiences should see this film. Denmark is a beautiful country and there are a lot of great widescreen shots of the countryside. But another reason the cinemaphotography is notable is due to the way that they photograph the children in the film. They don’t use a lot of makeup on the children so you see them warts and all, which actually adds to the realism of the film. Sure the actors are good looking, but the naturalism of their appearance makes them seem like the kid next door. Director Carsten Myllerup keeps the film moving at a rapid pace. There is quite a lot of action packed into the brief 80 minutes of the film. And without preaching at you, the story has moral values, a couple of miracles, and good messages to deliver about friendship, loyalty, and good versus evil. It turns out to be quite an enjoyable fairy tale. So while Oskar and Josefine may never be a blockbuster hit, it has pleasant simplicity about it that makes it solid family entertainment.
Oskar and Josephine grab onto the medalion to time travel.
Mikkel Konyher wears chocolate brown high top chucks throughout the film in his role as Josephine’s faithful companion Oskar. He has a naturally rumpled look with unkempt medium long hair, loose tee shirt, gray sweatshirt, rolled up long shorts and his chocolate brown chucks only laced to the fifth (of seven) eyelets with rolled down black socks. It’s a perfect contemporary kid outfit for today, and that’s why it seems so striking when worn in the 17th century. Probably the best scenes are when he is seen wearing his chucks during their time travels. Although eventually the kids adopt the clothing of the times when they visit the past, they both continue to wear their sneakers from the modern days. There is one funny line in the script about this. When the doctor from the 17th century comes to treat Kirsten with leeches (the medical practice of the day) he takes a disparaging look at Oskar and Josefine in their contemporary garb of shorts, tee shirts and sneakers and says, “Is that the way that people are dressing in Copenhagen these days?”
Josephine and Oskar meet his ancestors from 400 years ago.
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Oskar and Josefine is not currently available in Region 1 DVD, but can be purchased in Region 2 (European) with English subtitles.