Adam's Apples

Director Anders Thomas Jensen
Genre Drama
Runtime 94 minutes
Country of Origin Denmark, Germany
Language Danish
Supplier Outsider Pictures
Festivals/Awards Audience Award - Film Festival Hamburg 2005
Release Date In theatres on April 15, 2008
DVD/Blu-ray available on January 3, 2009


After being released from prison, Adam, the former leader of a neo-nazi gang, is required to spend several months living in a small religious community, headed by a priest named Ivan. Two other former prisoners are being rehabilitated at the same time: Khalid, an Arab burglar who occasionally holds up petrol stations as a form of political protest, and Gunnar, an obese, alcoholic, kleptomaniac convicted rapist. Ivan believes firmly in the goodness of man, and seems blind to their continuing misdeeds.

In order to be rehabilitated, he tells Adam he must choose a task to complete; when he achieves this goal, he will be free to leave the parish. Trying to provoke a reaction from the priest, Adam chooses the goal of baking an apple pie. Ivan accepts the goal, with the addendum it must be made from apples from the tree that grows in the churchyard.

Adam sets about tending the tree, but it does not go well: first crows attack the apples, and later most of those that remain are eaten by worms. After he has been at the church for some time, a distraught woman named Sarah arrives, and tells the priest that she is a former alcoholic who recently became pregnant after a one night stand; she has been told it is probable her child will be born with health problems. Ivan counsels her against an abortion, mentioning his own son, who had been expected to be born with cystic fibrosis. He tells her how glad he and his wife were to have had him. Later, it is revealed that Ivan's son, Christopher, has cystic fibrosis, and is confined to a wheelchair; Ivan seems to ignore his son's problems and carries on as if he were a normal boy.

Adam discovers that Ivan's life has been very difficult. His son's condition drove his wife to suicide (although Ivan insists her death was an accident); he and his sister were molested as children. Despite these problems, Ivan remains upbeat. When Adam eventually confronts him about Christopher's illness, he becomes distressed, and starts bleeding from the ear. After Adam takes him to the hospital, the doctor reveals that Ivan is suffering from a potentially fatal brain tumour; as long as he is allowed to continue in his delusions, the tumour seems not to affect him, but if he is forced to confront reality, he starts bleeding and his condition worsens. The two of them return to the church.

At first, Adam does not act on his discovery. But one night, he angrily confronts Ivan about his life, concluding by telling him that God must hate him to punish him so. Ivan falls bleeding to the floor; Adam leaves him there for several hours, but eventually returns and takes him to the hospital. When he wakes up the next day, Ivan decides to give up on life. His doctor predicts he does not have long to live.

Several members of Adam's former gang have already visited the church and confronted Khalid, who shot and wounded them. After Ivan's return from hospital, they return, this time intending to kill Khalid. During the noisy confrontation, Ivan comes out of the church, demanding to be allowed to die in peace. Adam's former deputy shoots the priest in the eye.

Again Adam takes him to the hospital. This time the doctor predicts the man will be dead by morning. Suddenly guiltstricken, Adam decides to make him the apple pie he had set as his goal. He returns to the church only to discover that the apples he had harvested have been eaten by Sarah and Christopher. Luckily, Gunnar stole one of them, which he now gives to Adam.

Adam stays up all night baking a tiny, one-apple pie for Ivan. But when he arrives at the hospital, he finds that Ivan's bed is empty. Assuming the worst, he goes to find Ivan's doctor, who tells him that the priest is in the garden. The bullet hit, and neatly removed, the tumour that had been going to kill him, leaving him in perfect health.

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Cast & Credits

Adam Pedersen Ulrich Thomsen
Ivan Mads Mikkelsen
Gunnar Nicolas Bro
Sarah Svendsen Paprika Steen
Khalid Ali Kazim
Dr. Kolberg Ole Thestrup
Holger Nikolaj Lie Kaas

Adam's Apples

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