DAY 13: A CLASSROOM MELODRAMA
The song, We shall overcome in Nigeria indicates a cry for solidarity during protests against the establishment. In Drommen (We Shall Overcome), the second and final Denmark film at the European Film Festival, the establishment is a headmaster, Lindum-Svendsen, whose disciplinary methods borders on the sadistic, but who will probably fit right into the Nigerian system of corporal punishment. The year is 1969 and a law against such punishment is already in place but change is slow in coming. A student, Frits, lured to spy on the female bathroom is apprehended by Lindum-Svendsen and his ear twisted so hard he requires stitches. Buoyed by the speeches of Martin Luther King Jnr, Frits, and his parents decide to challenge the establishment as symbolized by the headmaster.
Frits (Janus Dissing Rathke), is a brooding type and appears to be too introspective for his age. A friend asks him, “Why are you so weird?” He becomes friendly with a young hippie quasi-teacher, who plans to rid the system of the old as represented by Lindum-Svendsen but also relies on the man’s approval to become a full teacher as he says: “If I don’t pass, I can’t change anything”
There is also the small matter of Frits’ father’s psychiatric history and his mother is the school nurse.
These details make Drommen is a heartwarming tale with elements of a coming-of-age story and an underdog tale. So it is an achievement that the film does not get stuck in the sentimentality that characterizes this particular subgenre. The only detail may be the simplistic view of Lindum-Svendsen as a caricature without redeeming qualities.
It is bound to make Nigerian teachers cringe. But students will jump for joy.