Denmark is defeated, both on the battlefield and in the country’s soul. Those who survived are left with wounds both physical and psychological.
In Copenhagen, a snivelling Monrad confronts King Frederick, who tells him he has written to Bismark announcing of Denmark’s complete surrender for the sake of the people; thanks to the intercession of the King of Belgium, Denmark may well become part of the German Confederation. It becomes clear that Monrad has lost all his supporters and even his muse, Mrs Heiberg, cooly reminds him that whatever his boasted dream was, it is now over. In modern Denmark, Claudia sets off to sell the jewellery she stole from Severin but she has second thoughts and ends up confessing to him, only to find out he knew about it all along. In the aftermath of the war, Johan travels back home, seeking out the families of those friends who died in the battlefield and delivering them the last letters written by their sons, husbands and fathers. Among those letters is also Laust’s, one for his mother, one for Inge. However, the latter never reaches Inge as her mother burns it into the fire. Life moves on and when Didrich returns home he finds out that his father, the Baron, shot himself after discovering his son was a deserter. Next, Didrich proposes to Inge who, still believing Laust and Peter had died in the war, accepts. However, there is one condition and Inge must give away Laust’s bastard son.
Peter is, as we know, alive, but the war had left him in shock. Finally recovered, he travels from the hospital in Austria were he was ailing, all the way back to his mother’s house. Years have passed by then but there is still hope for a new beginning. Peter finds a new family in Sofia and her child. He also goes to see Inge and discovers that Laust’s son was sent to a workhouse. In a rather tender moment, Peter goes to see little Laust; the boy asks who he is and Peter replies he is his father. Back to modern times, Claudia reaches the last page on Inge’s diary dating back to 1939 – in those last words Inge reveals about her ever-lasting shame for abandoning her son, but there are also happy memories as she tells of how her husband, Didrich, gradually turned from a monster into a human being and how in the end she reconciled with Peter. We learn that everything we read on the diary had been dictated by older Inge to 18 years old Severin, her grandchild, and just as Claudia reaches the end, Severin dies. His tale has been passed on to the next generation.
1864‘s highly-emotional finale comes with a distinctive sentimental feel to it. That is not saying it is over-sentimental though. We are, in fact, reminded that not everything is bliss – on his way back, Peter crosses his path with young German troops. They are marching to war again, this time against Austria. Inge’s future is also a bitter and cruel one, although in the end we learn she made peace with herself – in a very beautiful imaginary we see older Inge meeting her teenage self and reassuring her, as if to say that things will turn out ok in the end. Didrich’s character has always been a slightly problematic one, being invested with the role of ultimate villain and inherently evil one – it was therefore an interesting concept that of having him growing “into a human being”, but still a shame we did not get to explore that side more. Another thing we wished this final episode had explored further is the socio-political landscape in the aftermath of the defeat. However, we are also reminded that such disastrous events affect single individuals and the families of those who fought in conflicts the most. On this note, the series leaves us with a long montage that takes us back in time, to when Peter, Laust and Inge were young and knew nothing about the war.
1864, a co-production between DR and Miso Film, comes to an epic finale in this heart-wrenching final episode in which a country’s defeat changed generations to come.
1864 is available now on Blu-ray & DVD, order your copy here.