Ole Christian Madsen reignites history in 'Flame & Citron'

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After the end of World War II, all Danish boys wanted to be Flame and Citron -- two of the county's famed resistance fighters who died during the war.

Bent Faurschou-Hviid and Jorgen Haagen Schmith were members of Denmark's Holger Danske resistance group. Faurschou-Hviid was named Flame due to his red hair; Schmith was called Citron because while working at the Citroën car factories in Copenhagen, he would sabotage the German trucks and cars.

But over the decades, their names became faint memories in the country. "It's what happens to a lot of these kind of people -- war heroes with an edge," says Ole Christian Madsen, the director of the award-winning Danish thriller "Flame & Citron," which opens in theaters today. "I think they didn't fit into the official storytelling on how Denmark behaved during the Second World War. After the film opened, everyone in Denmark knows them again."

Madsen's film stars Thure Lindhardt ( "Angels & Demons") as Flame and Mads Mikkelson ("Casino Royale") as Citron.

As portrayed in the film, the two assassins were assigned to murder Danes who were Nazi collaborators. But soon they didn't know who their enemies really were, including Flame's flame Ketty (Stine Stengade), a courier who may have been in bed with the Gestapo.

Little has been written about the men in contemporary history books. "Flame was coming from this strange, German-friendly family," Madsen says. "And he was obsessed with guns. He was this wild, wild child who was turning into the best-known Danish killer ever. We had to research everything to get information. We had to go through all the archives. Citron had a brother still living, and Flame had a brother still living. We had to interview the survivors who had worked with them."

Though historians knew about Ketty, no one really connected the dots between her and Flame. But while doing research for the project in a Stockholm archive, Madsen and co-writer Lars K. Andersen came across a receipt for 20,000 Danish crowns given to her by the Gestapo just two days after Flame's death.

"So that is when we really started thinking we had to do some research on her," Madsen says. Ironically, after all of their research, there are still many questions about her story...

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