Plunging the sorry history of Danish colonialism, Daniel Dencik’s Gold Coast brings a wealth of image and colour to a dark time.
Heart of Darknessby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Another chapter in Denmark’s dark past, like hit TV series 1864, Daniel Dencik’s Guldkysten is a very visual adventure as we follow botanist Wulff Fredrik Wulff (Jakob Oftebro) as he journeys to Danish Guinea (present-day south Ghana) in the 1830s to plant a coffee plantation for the King. Daniel Dencik’s film progresses through a stream of haunting images, as Wulff uncovers a slavery racket (Denmark was the first country to abolish slavery in 1803) and is eventually imprisoned by the new corrupt Governor. Brimming with all the imagistic chutzpah of a pop video – such as the opening of two Danish soldiers urinating over our hero, or the Danish missionary playing piano by the side of an African river – Gold Coast is at times a little clichéd or absurd. And despite a gripping performance from Jakob Oftebro, who loses half of his already meagre body size, Gold Coast loses its footing in its over-reliance on image, its story too elliptical to be emotionally engaging. And yet, as a tale of one man standing up against immorality and hypocrisy, it’s a very Danish via dolorosa.
Gold Coast is now showing at the London Film Festival