Monday, January 05, 2015

"A Hijacking", a Danish account of a fictional Somali piracy incident, precedes the bigger film from WB on the same subject

The 2012 film “A Hijacking” (“Kapringen”) by Tobias Lindholm anticipates the much better known “Captain Phillips” (Oct. 11, 2013), the true story of the Somali hijacking of a major cargo ship and the rescue.  But this time, the characters are fictional, and the emphasis is on the negotiations between the company in Denmark and the hijackers, and the story itself is apparently fiction. Or is there a true piracy case that ended this way? 

In fact, the fictive story differs quite a bit in many ways.  Omar (Abdihagan Asgar) is the Somali hostage negotiator with the captors, but he could have had something to do with the whole incident.  As in the WB film, the corporate negotiators haggle, and disbelieve that the hostages would really be killed, but the pirates insist that any deaths or injuries will be the moral baggage of the company.  In a way, this presents piracy as a kind of warfare or expropriation, not just theft.  At the end, the captain (Keith Pearson) is actually killed by one of the pirates, and Omar chastises the pirate, because now the pirates will really be seen as "criminals", not as revolutionaries getting even.
The cook Mikkel Hartmann (Johan Philip Asbaek) also plays into the plot in a curious way with a friend’s letter.  An interesting personal aside for me is that one of my best friends in high school, senior year, had the first name of Mikkel, rather unusual. 
It’s rather off-putting to discern the rather relaxed tone of the negotiators back in Copenhagen. There is one scene where a family member of one of the men begs with the company to offer enough money.  That would never be done for me, because I'm not a "family man". 

The film is available on instant play but was released by Magnolia in the US in 2012, official site here.  I don’t recall that this film got the attention when first released that it probably should have.  The film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99. 

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