Bille August is a Danish film director who has directed several critically acclaimed and award-winning films throughout his career. Here are some of his best films:

“Pelle the Conqueror” (1987) – This film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

It tells the story of a Swedish immigrant and his son who move to Denmark in search of a better life, but face numerous hardships.

“The Best Intentions” (1992) – This film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and is based on the early years of the relationship between Swedish author August Strindberg and his future wife, Siri von Essen.

“Smilla’s Sense of Snow” (1997) – Based on the novel of the same name by Peter Høeg, this film follows the investigation of a young Inuit woman’s death in Copenhagen, and features Julia Ormond in the lead role.

“Jerusalem” (1996) – This film tells the story of a Danish woman who travels to Jerusalem to uncover her family’s history and ends up falling in love with a Palestinian man.

“Les Misérables” (1998) – Based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, this film stars Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, and Uma Thurman and tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his struggle to escape his past.

Bille August is known for his skill in creating powerful, character-driven dramas that explore complex themes such as social justice, identity, and family relationships.

Best Bille August Films

His films are often visually stunning and emotionally resonant, and have won him numerous accolades and a reputation as one of the most talented directors of his generation.

1. Pelle the Conqueror (1987)

“Pelle the Conqueror” is a Danish-Swedish film directed by Bille August, released in 1987. The film is based on the novel “Pelle Erobreren” by Danish author Martin Andersen Nexø, and tells the story of a young boy named Pelle and his father Lasse, who immigrate from Sweden to Denmark in search of a better life.

The film is set in the late 19th century and explores themes of social injustice, class struggle, and the human condition. Pelle and Lasse face many hardships and obstacles in their new home, including poverty, prejudice, and discrimination.

However, Pelle is determined to make a better life for himself and his family, and he struggles to overcome the obstacles in his path.

“Pelle the Conqueror” was a critical and commercial success, and won several awards, including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Scandinavian cinema, and is celebrated for its powerful storytelling, beautiful cinematography, and brilliant performances by its cast.

   

It is a moving and poignant exploration of the human spirit and the struggle for a better life in the face of adversity.

Pelle the Conqueror [DVD]
  • Pelle Hvenegaard, Max von Sydow, Erik Paaske (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director) - Bille August (Writer)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Les Misérables (1998)

“Les Misérables” is a 1998 film adaptation of the classic French novel of the same name by Victor Hugo.

The film was directed by Bille August and starred Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, and Claire Danes in the lead roles.

The story follows the life of Jean Valjean, a former convict who has spent 19 years in prison for stealing bread.

After his release, he breaks his parole and starts a new life under a new identity, becoming a successful businessman and a mayor of a small town.

However, his past catches up with him when he is pursued by the ruthless Inspector Javert, who is determined to bring him to justice.

The film is a faithful adaptation of the novel, capturing the epic scope of the story and its themes of redemption, justice, and love.

It features powerful performances by the cast, particularly Liam Neeson in the role of Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert.

The film also boasts stunning production design and costume design, recreating the 19th-century setting of the story in vivid detail.

“Les Misérables” received mixed reviews from critics upon its release, with some praising its faithful adaptation of the novel and others criticizing its slow pace and lack of emotional depth.

However, the film has since gained a following among fans of the novel and musical, and remains a notable entry in the many adaptations of “Les Misérables” that have been produced over the years.

Sale
Les Miserables
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director)
  • English, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997)

“Smilla’s Sense of Snow” is a 1997 Danish-German thriller film directed by Bille August and based on the novel of the same name by Peter Høeg.

   

The film stars Julia Ormond in the titular role of Smilla Jaspersen, a Greenlandic woman who investigates the death of a young boy who fell from the roof of her apartment building in Copenhagen.

As Smilla delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death, she discovers a conspiracy involving a powerful mining corporation, a mysterious ship, and a secret scientific experiment.

Along the way, she must navigate a web of lies and deceit while facing her own traumatic past and coming to terms with her identity as a Greenlandic woman living in a foreign country.

The film is known for its stunning visuals, which include sweeping aerial shots of the Arctic landscape, as well as its tense and atmospheric score by composer Hans Zimmer.

The story deals with themes of identity, power, and corruption, and has been praised for its strong female protagonist and its exploration of Greenlandic culture and history.

Although the film received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since gained a cult

Smilla's Sense of Snow
  • Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Jim Broadbent (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

4. The House of the Spirits (1993)

The House of the Spirits is a 1993 drama film directed by Bille August and based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Isabel Allende.

The film stars Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Winona Ryder, and Antonio Banderas, among others.

   

The House of the Spirits tells the story of the Trueba family, spanning three generations in Chile from the early 20th century to the military coup of 1973.

The film explores themes of love, family, politics, and social upheaval.

The patriarch of the family, Esteban Trueba (played by Irons), rises from poverty to become a wealthy landowner, while his wife Clara (played by Streep) possesses supernatural powers and becomes a political activist.

The film features a star-studded cast and was praised for its impressive production design, including its costumes, sets, and cinematography.

The House of the Spirits was also noted for its powerful performances and its faithful adaptation of Allende’s novel.

However, the film was criticized by some for its heavy-handed melodrama and its depiction of Latin American culture through a Eurocentric lens.

Despite these criticisms, The House of the Spirits remains a significant work in the canon of Latin American cinema, and its exploration of themes such as family, politics, and social injustice continue to resonate with audiences today.

Sale
The House of the Spirits [DVD]
  • Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director) - Bille August (Writer)
  • German (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

5. The Best Intentions (1992)

“The Best Intentions” is a 1992 Swedish film directed by Bille August, based on a screenplay by Ingmar Bergman.

The film explores the early life of Bergman’s parents, Henrik and Anna, and their tumultuous courtship.

The story is set in the early 20th century and follows Henrik and Anna as they navigate their way through their social class differences, Henrik’s intellectual and artistic ambitions, and Anna’s strong religious beliefs.

The film explores the challenges and conflicts that arise in their relationship as they try to find common ground and make their love work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv_M8Hdf6II

The film is known for its lush cinematography, which captures the beauty of the Swedish countryside, and its intimate and emotional portrayal of the characters.

It won the Palme d’Or at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival and received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling and nuanced performances.

“The Best Intentions” is also notable for its connection to Bergman, one of the most revered filmmakers in cinema history, and for its exploration of the themes and motifs that he would later explore in his own work.

The film is a moving and memorable depiction of love, family, and the complexities of human relationships.

The Best Intentions
  • Bille August (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

6. Zappa (1983)

“Zappa” is a concert film and documentary released in 1983 that was directed by Frank Zappa himself. The film features footage from various live performances of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, as well as backstage footage and interviews with Zappa.

The film captures Zappa’s unique musical style, which blended rock, jazz, and classical music, and featured his signature satirical and humorous lyrics.

The performances are highly energetic, with intricate and technically challenging musical arrangements that showcase the talent and musicianship of Zappa and his band.

In addition to the concert footage, the film also includes interviews with Zappa in which he discusses his approach to music and his opinions on various social and political issues.

The documentary portions of the film offer a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the most innovative and influential musicians of the 20th century.

“Zappa” is considered a classic of music documentary filmmaking and is highly regarded by fans of Frank Zappa and experimental music.

It provides a unique and intimate look at one of the most enigmatic and fascinating figures in the history of rock music.

Zappa
  • Danish (Subtitle)

7. Twist & Shout (1984)

“Twist and Shout” is a Danish coming-of-age film directed by Bille August and released in 1984. The film is set in the early 1960s and tells the story of two teenage boys, Bjorn and Erik, who are best friends living in a small Danish town.

The boys come from very different backgrounds; Bjorn is the son of a wealthy businessman, while Erik comes from a working-class family.

The film follows the boys as they navigate the challenges of growing up and coming of age, including their first loves and sexual experiences.

The backdrop of the story is the rise of rock and roll music in Denmark and the cultural changes that it brings.

“Twist and Shout” was a critical and commercial success, and is widely regarded as a classic of Danish cinema.

The film is noted for its frank and honest portrayal of adolescent sexuality, as well as its sensitive and realistic portrayal of the friendship between Bjorn and Erik.

It is a moving and poignant exploration of youth and the tumultuous emotions that come with it, set against the backdrop of a changing society.

Twist and Shout
  • Adam Tonsberg, Lars Simonsen (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director) - Per Holst Film (Producer)

8. Goodbye Bafana (2007)

Goodbye Bafana” is a 2007 drama film directed by Bille August and starring Joseph Fiennes as James Gregory, a South African prison guard who is assigned to oversee the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, played by Dennis Haysbert, on Robben Island.

The film is based on the memoirs of Gregory, who became Mandela’s personal prison censor and developed a close relationship with him over the course of his imprisonment.

As Gregory spends more time with Mandela, he begins to question his own beliefs and the system of apartheid that he has been supporting.

He eventually becomes an advocate for Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the film explores the transformative power of friendship and the struggle for justice and equality.

The film received mixed reviews upon its release, with some critics praising the performances of the lead actors and the film’s powerful themes, while others criticized the film for its historical inaccuracies and its depiction of Gregory as a hero.

Nevertheless, “Goodbye Bafana” is regarded as an important exploration of the legacy of apartheid in South Africa and the struggle for social and political change.

Goodbye Bafana (2007) ( The Color of Freedom ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import - Sweden ]
  • Goodbye Bafana (2007) ( The Color of Freedom )
  • Goodbye Bafana (2007)
  • The Color of Freedom
  • Joseph Fiennes, Diane Kruger, Dennis Haysbert (Actors)
  • Bille August (Director) - Goodbye Bafana (2007) ( The Color of Freedom ) (Producer)

9. In My Life (1978)

In My Life is a 1978 drama film directed by Philippe Labro and starring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. The film is notable for its exploration of the themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time.

In My Life tells the story of Jean Barnery (played by Piccoli), a wealthy businessman who is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

As he confronts his mortality, Barnery begins to reflect on his life and his relationships, including his love affair with Catherine (played by Schneider) that began 20 years earlier.

The film is praised for its nuanced and sensitive portrayal of its characters, particularly its examination of the complexities of human relationships.

It is also notable for its visual style, with director Philippe Labro using flashbacks and dreamlike sequences to blur the boundaries between past and present.

In My Life was well-received by critics, who praised its emotional depth and its exploration of universal themes.

The film is regarded as one of the highlights of French cinema in the 1970s and is seen as a landmark work in the career of both Piccoli and Schneider. It remains a poignant and thought-provoking meditation on the human experience and the inevitability of mortality.

3 Characteristics of Bille August Films

Bille August is a Danish film director who has made films in a variety of genres, but there are a few characteristics that are common to many of his works.

Here are three characteristics of Bille August’s films:

Strong visuals and cinematography: Bille August is known for his ability to create stunning visuals that capture the beauty of the landscapes and environments in which his stories take place.

He often uses wide shots and natural light to create a sense of space and atmosphere in his films.

Emphasis on character development: August’s films often focus on the inner lives and struggles of his characters.

He is known for his ability to create complex and nuanced characters who feel real and human, and his stories often explore themes of personal growth, identity, and relationships.

Use of literary sources: August often adapts works of literature for the screen, and his films are known for their attention to detail and fidelity to the original source material.

He has adapted works by authors such as Charles Dickens, Isak Dinesen, and Peter Høeg, and his films often feature a literary sensibility in their storytelling and themes.

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Bille August Films

Sure, here are 3 reasons why you should watch Bille August films:

Engaging storytelling: Bille August is known for his ability to tell compelling and emotionally resonant stories. His films often explore themes of family, identity, and social justice, and are characterized by complex characters and nuanced portrayals of human relationships.

His storytelling is both engaging and thought-provoking, and his films have won numerous awards and critical acclaim.

Cinematic visual style: Bille August is also known for his visually stunning films. He has a keen eye for composition and often employs beautiful cinematography to convey the mood and tone of his stories.

His films also feature strong production design and art direction, creating a rich and immersive visual experience for viewers.

Strong performances: Bille August has worked with some of the most talented actors in the industry, and his films are known for their strong performances.

From Max von Sydow in “The Best Intentions” to Liam Neeson in “Les Misérables,” August has directed some of the most memorable performances in modern cinema.

His films offer a showcase for actors to display their range and talent, and August’s direction allows them to deliver powerful and nuanced performances.

In short, Bille August films are a must-watch for anyone interested in rich, engaging storytelling, visually stunning cinema, and strong performances by some of the best actors in the business.

Best Bille August Films – Wrapping Up

Bille August is a Danish film director who has made numerous critically acclaimed films over his career. Here are a few of his best-known and most highly regarded films:

“Pelle the Conqueror” (1987) – This epic drama won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

It tells the story of a young boy and his father who immigrate to Denmark in the late 19th century and face numerous hardships.

“The Best Intentions” (1992) – This Swedish drama was written by Ingmar Bergman and won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It tells the story of the courtship and marriage of Bergman’s parents.

“Smilla’s Sense of Snow” (1997) – This thriller stars Julia Ormond as a woman investigating the death of a young boy in Denmark. The film is known for its atmospheric visuals and score.

“Jerusalem” (1996) – This Danish drama stars Maria Bonnevie as a woman who returns to Jerusalem to discover the truth about her father’s death.

The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or and features a memorable performance by Ulf Pilgaard.

“The House of the Spirits” (1993) – This period drama is based on the novel by Isabel Allende and stars Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and Jeremy Irons. It tells the story of a Chilean family over several generations.

These films showcase August’s ability to tackle a wide range of subject matter and styles, from period dramas to thrillers to social dramas.

His skillful direction and attention to detail have made him one of the most respected filmmakers of his generation.