. Today I will explain to you a drama film from 2016, titled The Day Will Come.
Spoilers ahead! This article contains spoilers, Take Care!
In 1967, brothers Erik and Elmer Johansen are taken to Orphanage Godhavn, where they meet instructors Toft Lassen and Aksel, who send them directly to bed without even a proper welcome. This all started a couple of days ago when the siblings were caught stealing magazines and even a telescope because Elmer was a fan of space and wanted to follow the rocket landings. The Child Welfare office reminded their widowed mother, Moren, that talking to them wouldn’t cut it anymore. The boys were always skipping class and causing trouble, and Moren was always away working.
She didn’t make enough to provide them with a good life and wasn’t around to raise them, so next time they heard of her having issues with them, they would take her sons away from her. Sadly, this didn’t take long to happen: Moren had a breakdown and was sent to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with cancer. Uncle Onkel tried to request the custody of the boys, but he had no permanent residence and his latest income had been three months ago, so Child Welfare decided to send the brothers to a prestigious orphanage. Back to the present, the boys are experiencing their first morning in Godhavn.
Everyone wakes up at the same time to be sent to the mess hall, where they can’t sit and eat until they’re told to do so. Silent must be kept during the whole meal. Meanwhile, new teacher Lilian Hammershøj is being shown around by the principal Frederik Heck, who informs her that while he knows physical punishment has been banned by the law, they still use it in Godhavn, and Lilian is free to use it too, but it isn’t her style.
Afterward, they go to the mess hall, where all the boys welcome her in perfect synchronization. Frederik approaches the brothers to meet them, and after learning their names, he asks what they want for the future. When Elmer says he wants to be an astronaut, he gets slapped for impertinence. All the boys in the orphanage must work, so Frederik assigns the brothers to stone-dragging duty at the dike.
Erik protests, explaining Elder has a clubfoot that hurts if he carries heavy things, but that also earns him a slap. Later, the boys are allowed to take a break from stone-dragging to have lunch, which is only a small tray everyone fights over. The brothers barely get to grab some scraps, but at least they finally get to chat with the other boys, giving them the chance to properly meet Tøger and his friends. It’s Tøger that advises them to lay low and pretend to be ghosts, that way they won’t get attention or be punished.
It’s just a matter of waiting until they turn fifteen, which is when they’re given the “eternity note”, a permission to leave for good. Their chat is interrupted by a group of bullies, who ask for cigarettes or food, and beat up the brothers when they have nothing to offer. Elmer is sent up the water tank, but he freezes midway because he’s scared, which causes the bullies to make fun and throw stones at a future astronaut that is afraid of heights. Later that evening, the brothers try to escape and even manage to reach the road, where they’re picked up by a van, only to be taken back to the orphanage.
Everyone in town is scared of Godhavn, so they don’t dare do anything against their principal’s wishes. As punishment for escaping, Frederik allows every boy in the orphanage to take a turn at slapping both brothers. Lilian sees what’s going on, but isn’t capable of doing anything about it except taking care of their wounds afterward. When they go to bed, Erik convinces Elmer to be a ghost from now on.
Weeks pass and the brothers do their best to get used to the routine, but it isn’t easy. Elmer keeps falling asleep in class and his clubfoot hurts every day. When Erik finds some chocolate in the trash and gives it to him to help with the pain, Elmer decides to share it with Tøger and his friends, gaining their trust. They also begin noticing how during the nights Aksel is on watch duty, he would take a boy with him to his room.
One morning, Toft discovers Elmer has wetted the bed. As punishment, he’s sent to stand on a bucket outside while only wearing his underpants and holding the wet sheets. He must stand there until the sheet dries, freezing his bones.
Afterward, he’s sent to the doctor, who declares him healthy except for the clubfoot and the urination problem, so he gives two pills to deal with it. The bullies started to ask them for more things for being a “peeboy”, so the other boys, feeling grateful for the chocolate, share some cigarettes with them to get the bullies off their backs. But the urination problem won’t go away, even when they increase the dose – in fact, it makes Elmer dizzy and sleepy. After he falls asleep during class multiple times, Lilian checks his notebook and notices Elmer hasn’t been taking notes.
She also notices he has a second notebook where he has written personal things she believes he copied from some book. When he denies it, she makes him read it for the whole class, making her realize this is some sort of diary where he talks about what’s happening to him but twisted into a poetic fantasy of being an astronaut. This turns out to be a good thing for Elmer: now that Lilian -who is in charge of sorting the orphanage’s mail- has seen what he can do, she takes the opportunity to name him the mailboy, in charge of picking up the mailbag in town and bringing it to her so they can sort it together while they read the newspaper and listen to music. Now he has a task to keep him busy and his mind sharp, Elmer doesn’t wet his bed anymore.
It’s during one of these afternoons spent together that he learns Lilian never got the chance to marry and have kids, so after a failed relationship, she decided to teach kids instead. That same day the brothers also get a letter from their mother, who tells them she’s undergoing special treatment and their uncle is taking care of her. When they ask Tøger what he got, he tosses his letter at them, explaining his father writes exactly the same thing every year. He even recites it as Elmer reads, knowing it’s just excuses for why he won’t visit on Christmas, but what hurts him the most is that his father never takes at least a second to tell him about his sister.
Taking pity on him, Elmer tells him this time there’s a P.S. and right there on the spot, he begins inventing an anecdote of Tøger’s family, including the sister saying she misses him. Tøger knows Elmer is lying and there isn’t such a note, but he still thanks him for it since he found the story very comforting.
From that day on, every boy takes their letters to Elmer to get a nicer version of the words from home, finding hope in his stories. One night, Aksel chooses Elmer as his next victim. Erik sees this and tries to offer himself in exchange for his brother, but Aksel slaps him and sends him back to bed. Once they’re in his room, Aksel tells a very scared Elmer to do as he says if he doesn’t want Erik to suffer.
It isn’t until many hours later that Erik sees Elmer again, finding him in the bathroom washing off the blood dripping down his legs. Before he can say anything, Elmer passes out on the floor. The next day, Lilian attends a meeting with the other instructors about it and is shocked and disgusted to see their reactions to the incident. They claim one of the older boys did it because it’s natural to have needs when hitting puberty, but if Elmer doesn’t give them any names, there’s nothing they can do about it other than to watch the boys more closely.
Lilian wants to take Elmer to the hospital, but her request is shut down, being told the orphanage’s doctor is enough. She tries to talk to Elmer the next time she sees him after class, but he’s too scared to say anything, although Erik does tell her it wasn’t a boy that hurt him. Many days later, inspectors come to the orphanage to do a standard inspection of the place. But since they’re told in advance when they are coming, the boys are put in their best clothes, and any bruises are hidden under make-up.
The boys must tell they’re happy if they don’t want to be punished later, and the inspector sees them work in the carpentry workshop, which is supposed to prepare them for the future but they’re actually doing it only today as part of the act for the government. When Erik sees Aksel take Elmer to a side office in the workshop to give him a gift in exchange for his silence, he looks at the saw and gets an idea. After Elmer leaves, Aksel comes back to keep on working and loses his fingers to the saw thanks to Erik having turned off the safety mechanism. Aksel is sent to the hospital for a few weeks, and now the boys will be safe from his abuse, at least for a while.
Frederik is suspicious of Erik, but he has no proof to do anything about it, and that drives him mad. Later during dinner, Erik receives a call from his uncle to tell him Moren has died. He goes back to the table shaking and crying, and when Elmer hears the news too, he makes a scene as he tries to process his grief. Frederik slaps them both for misbehaving and even pushes Erik’s face against his plate, but since not even his anger will make the boys stop crying, it makes him frustrated, so he leaves.
Lilian takes the chance he isn’t there to comfort the brothers. The next day, they’re visited by their uncle, who tells them how their mother was put down to stop her suffering, but he is still not allowed to take the boys because of his lack of income. The siblings convince him to help them escape and agree to meet near the road in the middle of the night, but before Onkel leaves, Frederik talks to him. He points out all the ways his life isn’t made for children and how life in the orphanage is a better option, especially so they can be trained for the future.
This gives Onkel a lot to think about, so when night falls, instead of picking up the kids, he calls Lilian and tells her he’s sorry but he won’t be going. Lilian tries to pass the message to the brothers, but she’s intercepted by Frederik, who makes her confess what she’s doing in the boys’ room so late at night. Erik and Elmer are caught before they can even leave the area and are given a beating for it, Frederik even tells them it was Lilian that sold them out. Furious, Erik tries to jump on her, but the instructors grab him and take him to the basement.
She tries to apologize to Elmer, who has lost all trust in her and tells her he’s glad she never had children. Lilian slaps him for it, and when she notices what she’s done, she realizes this place is greatly affecting her, so she quits the next morning at the same time Aksel makes his return. From then on, the brothers truly become ghosts. In 1969, Gert Hartmann, a new inspector, comes unannounced to the orphanage to make sure everything is fine before Frederik gets a Knight’s Cross for his almost fifty years of service.
Frederik isn’t happy to see him because he didn’t have time to hide all evidence, but he can’t kick them without looking bad on the report. Hartmann notices some irregularities, like the small number of bathrooms for such a big group of children, but his main concern is the bruises he finds on the kids. All of them lie and say they got them from falling or playing, and nobody wants to speak to Hartmann in private when he offers them that option. The inspector isn’t satisfied with this result, but he has no evidence of anything, so he leaves without a word.
In a few weeks, Erik will be turning fifteen and will be finally able to leave, so he’s planning to ask Frederik to let him take his brother with him. He’s such in a good mood for getting the Knight’s Cross that he allows the boys to watch the moon landing on tv if they finish some special tasks – Elmer is sent to work on building a terrace, and Erik will wash Frederik’s car. Some hours later, while everyone is inside watching Armstrong say his famous words, Erik is finishing washing the car, which earns him praise from Frederik. Erik takes this chance to ask for his brother to leave with him when he turns fifteen, but Frederik has some news for him: he’s starting an apprenticeship department in the orphanage, so now the boys must stay until they turn eighteen.
This makes Erik furious because it means he’s behaving for nothing, so he starts scratching the car. After the broadcast is over, Elmer goes looking for his brother, but he only finds blood drops on the car. Frederik has beaten him up so badly that he almost dies, and after three days, he still hasn’t woken up. They won’t allow Elmer to see him except for a quick peek at the door, but he still sneaks inside when no adults are around.
He almost gets caught by Frederik and the doctor, but he hides under the bed just in time to hear them talk. The doctor can’t help Erik any longer, he needs to be taken to the hospital, but Frederik refuses and accepts to let God decide what happens to the boy. Later, Elmer goes to see Frederik to ask for a day’s leave. He’s decided he wants to be a mailman and wants to visit the mail and telegraph museum to learn more about it.
Frederik is pleased to hear he’s dropped the astronaut nonsense and is aiming for a proper job, so to reward his good behavior, he allows him to have that break and even gives him a coin to get some ice cream. Once he gets to the city, Elmer uses that coin to call Lilian after finding her number on the phone book. After telling him she isn’t working with kids anymore and now teaches other teachers at college, she accepts to take him to the Child Welfare office, where they wait for Hartmann for six hours. It seems he isn’t coming back soon, so another inspector takes their case, but all he can do is file a report because they haven’t brought any evidence with them.
Elmer returns to the orphanage determined to take the matter into his own hands. Tøger and his friends are also trying to plan something to help Erik, but Elmer tells them to wait for him outside while he visits Aksel. He convinces the man that he’s there to spend the night together, so while Aksel is distracted, Elmer steals his keys and locks him up in his room. After visiting Erik to say goodbye just in case something happens to him, he makes an astronaut costume out of a box and foil paper, then takes a hammer and takes it outside to start destroying Frederik’s car while the other boys cheer for him.
The instructors find him and Toft begins beating him up while Frederik takes a call from the inspector’s office, telling him about the report they received earlier. Catching on Elmer’s plan, Frederik stops the punishment so he doesn’t get any more bruises that could incriminate him. Now they’ve let go of him, Elmer runs away and overcomes his fear in order to climb up the water tank only to jump off it while pretending to be a floating astronaut. Inspector Hartmann and Lilian arrive just in time to see this happen, and Erik wakes up the moment his brother hits the ground.
Both siblings are taken to the hospital and watched over by Lilian, who is relieved to hear from the doctor that it will take a while for them to recover but they’ll survive. Many days later, when they’re feeling better, Lilian takes Elmer to the orphanage, where he asks Frederik for his and Erik’s eternity notes. Since the inspectors are there doing a thorough investigation, Frederik has no choice but to give Elmer the notes without protest. Elmer says goodbye to all the boys before leaving.
Encouraged by his bravery, the next time Hartmann asks them if they want to tell him anything, Tøger raises his hand, and all the other boys soon do the same. As Lilian leaves with their brothers in the car, they see Tøger running after them to wave at them, the only way he can show his gratitude for what Elmer’s accomplished.