Based on a true story, Worlds Apart is a tale of love, freedom, and difficult choices set in a world little seen. Carefully probing the psychology of Jehovah Witnesses' infamous insularity, the film follows Sara, a devout and intelligent 17-year-old who pours her youthful energy into the pursuit of righteousness. But her strictly regimented world begins to come undone when her father admits to an extramarital affair. Her mother moves out of the house, but Sara and her younger siblings choose to stay with her father because he has repented his sins. Even though Sara seems wise beyond her years, she is still a teenager. When she meets Teis, a non-believer, she finds it increasingly difficult to keep in mind the dictum that "Jehovah sees all." She must ultimately decide to follow her heart or continue down the path to salvation that she's always known. If she follows her heart, the rules of her faith dictate that she will not be able to see or speak with her family again. Director Niels Arden Oplev rises to the challenge of representing the Witnesses, who are well known for their door-to-door proselytizing but perhaps not so well understood. He does so with complexity instead of the easy demonizing that such stories often resort to, and he compassionately portrays all that Sara will lose if she chooses to leave the congregation. He transforms Sara from a zealot into a thoughtful and brave young woman, all the while alluding to the often mercurial nature of teenage girls. The overall cast brings sensitivity to the varied characters, with Rosalinde Mynster giving an amazing and sensitive performance as Sara, a girl who is both serious and wise beyond her years.
Director's Statement Collapse
In April 2006, shortly after the opening of We Shall Overcome
, I happened to read a newspaper article about this girl Tabita's upbringing in a family deeply committed to the beliefs and standards of the religious sect Jehovah's Witnesses. Her fate and “journey” made a great impression on me and the things she had gone through touched me in both an emotional and intellectual way. I arranged meetings with Tabita, who is still in her early 20s, and here she spoke accurately and openly. Every detail was still crystal clear in her memory. The way she talked about her life was so honest and captivating that my fingers were itching to get started on the writing. The script follows Tabita's story as closely as possible, and even though bits and pieces have been added and removed, Tabita's story was in itself so well composed that the film all in all diverges only very little from the reality that she described to us.
Along with our writing, Steen Bille and I researched Jehovah's Witnesses thoroughly—their values and beliefs, case stories, and fates. We did this in part to get the best possible knowledge of our subject, but also because we were determined not to portray the Witnesses as the “bad guys.” We wanted to understand them and make sure that they were portrayed as people with emotions, weaknesses, and qualities like everyone else. We made sure that Sara, Tabita's character in the film, was faced with a choice that wasn't obvious. A choice that anyone, regardless of religious beliefs, can see is hard. Sara's journey through the film becomes a personification of how a person is influenced by religious fundamentalism and by the great personal costs and difficult choices it brings with it.
About the Director(s)Collapse
Niels Arden Oplev b. 1961) graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 1989. His first feature, Portland (1996), was selected for the main competition at the Berlin International Film Festival and his second feature, Chop Chop (2001), received recognition from the National Danish Film Awards. Oplev has worked as a director on the TV series Unit One and The Eagle, both of which received the Emmy for best foreign TV series. His feature, We Shall Overcome (2006) became the most successful Danish film of 2006 and was honored with the Crystal Bear at Berlin. Oplev's next film will be based on a book by Swedish author Stieg Larsson.