The Good Traitor Review – Compelling, Interesting, A Hidden Gem

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The Good Traitor, from Samuel Goldwyn Films, presents the intriguing true story of Henrik Kaufmann, a Danish Ambassador stationed in Washington as World War II begins and his decision to stand against Nazism by declaring himself independent.

The Good Traitor begins in 1963. Henrik Kaufmann, played by Ulrich Thomsen, is now elderly suffering from cancer and extremely ill. His wife, Charlotte, played by Denise Gough, waits patiently by his bedside. Minutes after the nurses leave the room, she walks to him and a sound is heard, as the camera pans the length of the bed, we see jagged movement and then nothing.

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The film then moves to 1939, Washington, D.C. the seat of power in the beginnings of Hitler’s reign of terror. Henrik is the Danish Ambassador and the two, along with their two children are on the way to the White House at the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt, played by Henry Goodman.

Charlotte, we find is a family friend of the President Roosevelt. Henrik and Roosevelt talk on the rumors of war in Europe, the possibility of U.S. involvement, and the realities of life as an ambassador in Washington.

Within days of Henrik and Charlotte arriving in Washington, her sister Zilla, played by Zoe Tapper, and her husband, Mason Sears, played by Ross McCall, are also back stateside and the couples, along with their children are very close.

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April 9, 1940. Germany invades Denmark and Henrik’s decision then becomes more challenging. Should he defy the Danish King Christian the 10th or declare himself an Ambassador of the Free people of Denmark, oppose Nazism, and face the possibility of being declared a traitor and worse imprisoned for treason in Copenhagen?

Henrik and his assistant, and an attorney, Povl Bang-Jensen, played by Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, are forced to make extremely difficult decisions which Hnerik explains he was sent to represent a free people and any decisions coming from Copenhagen are under duress.

He refuses to abide by the orders of his government and declares himself an independent. The decision is both disavowed and supported by separate Danish Ambassadors around the world.

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Throughout the film interweaves actual radio broadcasts from the invasion of Denmark and other key intersection sf World War II. As the pressure mounts, with Denmark working desperately to remain neutral so to keep themselves from German annihilation, they cut the financial support of Henrik and all other embassies which supported his decision to declare himself an Independent.

December 7, 1941. The bombing of Pearl Harbor finally draws Roosevelt and America into the war. We understand World War II was never on the American agenda. American policy remains vehemently opposed to Hitler and the German invasion and fully supported the allies and armed the Brits with military supplies.

Henrik explained to the United State Embassy Attaché Berle, played by Burn Gorman, the Danish territories also include Greenland, and when the U.S. enters the war, they will need Greenland to build bases to fly into Europe.

To secure Greenland, which as the Danish Ambassador to the Free People of Denmark, he would sign if the U.S. government would open the Federal Reserve in New York and allow him to access the Danish Federal Treasury which the Danes, in preparation for the impending invasion, had sailed to the United States in Gold Bars for safe keeping.

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The Good Traitor is a remarkably interesting film which uncovers another hidden story of true heroism during World War II. The use of actual audio feed as a segue to the event, which becomes like a high stakes’ chess game.

The ensemble cast encapsulates the essence of their characters as the tension mount. From the carefree pre-invasion life to the War’s darkest hours, the anxiety, stress, and pressure are captured.

The true story of Denmark’s Henrik Kaufmann, the man who stood against his own government to fight Nazism is an uncovered gem in the sea of stories, known and unknown, available from this time.

The Good Traitor is available on streaming platforms. See it.


Year – 2020.

Runtime - 115 minutes.

Language - Danish, with English subtitles, English.

Country – Denmark.

Director - Christina Rosendahl.

Screenwriter - Kristian Bang Foss, Dunja Gry Jensen, Christina Rosendahl.

Producer - Jonas Frederiksen.

Cast - Ulrich Thomsen, Burn Gorman, Ross McCall, Zoë Tapper, Denise Gough, Pixie Davies,
Henry Goodman, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Nicholas Blane.

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