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Film / The Green Butchers

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The Green Butchers (Danish: De grønne slagtere) is a Danish Black Comedy film from 2003, written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas (in a double role), and Line Kruse.

Two butchers, Bjarne (Kaas) and Svend (Mikkelsen), have been toiling for years under their arrogant Mean Boss, Holger (Ole Thestrup), whose famous deer sausage is a beloved dish in the local town. Finally getting fed up with Holger's bullying and boorish manners, Bjarne and Svend decide that they want start their own butcher shop, believing that they can do a better job than him.

In a bid to finance the shop, Bjarne starts the process to get his brain dead twin brother, Egil (also played by Kaas), his only living relative, taken off life support, so he can get his hands on the money he inherited from their dead parents. During this he runs into Astrid (Kruse), a local girl he develops a bit of a crush on.

As they open up their shop, Bjarne and Svend are faced with low costumer turn-up and slow business. While closing up shop, Svend, in a moment of absent-mindedness, manages to accidentally lock up an electrician in the walk-in freezer. Discovering his fatal mistake when he stumbles upon the unfortunate electrician's body, Svend is on the cusp of panic, but before he can do anything about it, Holger walks into the shop to mock him and Bjarne over their lack of costumers. And when Holger decides to top it off by extremely patronizingly placing an order on meat for a dinner he is planning for the local elite from the shop, Svend decides to play a cruel prank on him and serves him the electrician's leg, claiming it to be chicken meat marinated in his special sauce.

The meat, however, is a hit with Holger's dinner guests, and due to word of mouth, Bjarne and Svend's shop becomes an overnight success. Bjarne is initially horrified by this situation, calling it out on how Sick and Wrong it all is, but when Svend argues that they need to dispose of body and they might as well try to satisfy their new costumers in the process, Bjarne gives in and agrees to sell the rest of the body. Things become progressively darker from there, and no less complicated when it turns out that Bjarne's twin wasn't so brain dead as he appeared...


  • Berserk Button: Svend starts notably boiling with cold fury when people implies that he lacks skills in certain fields, such as butcher work... or bowling. It is what drives him to make pretty much every awful and cruel decision he does over the course of the film.
  • Cruella to Animals: Bjarne hates animals with a passion. He basically became a butcher so he could get a free pass to cut them up, and his favorite hobby is to assemble animal skeletons. His reason for hating animals stems from the fact that Egil loved them so very much, to the point where it lead to the death of his parents and his wife.
  • Disposing of a Body: How the whole cannibal business starts. Svend accidentally kills an electrician working in the walk-in freezer, and attempts to hide his crime by selling the unfortunate electrician's body in portions to him and Bjarne's blissfully unaware costumers. Eventually, Bjarne and Svend decides they need more bodies to dispose off.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: If Svend didn't already do this when he decided to dispose of a body by selling it in parts as food, he definitely does it when when he starts deliberately killing people by locking them in the freezer room simply for bothering him.
  • Karma Houdini: In the end, Svend and Bjarne face no consequences for serving human meat to their unwitting customers, and they also get off the hook for the two counts of murders and one count of involuntary manslaughter they got the meat from as well, and their business even continues to be quite successful.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Svend accidentally does this to the unfortunate electrician. He later does it quite intentionally to Hans the realtor, Juhl the nurse, and Astrid and Egil, though the latter two are saved by Bjarne.
  • Overly-Nervous Flop Sweat: Svend's tendency to do this whenever something agitates him, which is often, has earned him the nickname "Svend Sweat".
  • Saying Too Much:
    • Bjarne almost runs into this, when the impatient costumers asks him for "chicky-wickies", despite the shop being out of human meat. Bjarne eventually promises them that he might be able to make some "chicky-wickies", but with a different kind of meat. When asked what kind of meat, he answers with "chicken". He quickly backtracks with "a different kind of chicken", before anyone realises the oddity of what he said.
    • Svend also almost does it, when he discovers that the food authorities are ransacking the shop, and he thinks him and Bjarne has been found out, he launches to a prolonged Motive Rant, before Bjarne finally manages to convey to him that the authorities aren't actually on to them.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Subverted. It is actually not the human meat Bjarne and Svend's costumers love. Turns out it is Svend's special marinate. Bjarne even discovers that the human meat actually has an unpleasant aftertaste, and replacing it with chicken actually improves upon the dish.
  • The Stoner: Bjarne is constantly smoking joints, apparently as a way to self-medicate his anger issues. He claims to smoke so much weed that he probably wouldn't notice if his hair was on fire.
  • Tantrum Throwing: After Svend's failed attempt to kill Astrid and Egil, Bjarne explodes with anger and smashes the shop's backroom, turning over selves and throwing around pots and pans, culminating in him picking up a meat axe and cornering Svend with it, only barely holding himself back from bring it down on him.
  • Third-Person Person: Egil tends to slip into this whenever he is excited or upset.
  • You're Insane!: Astrid calls Bjarne and Svend insane after the latter attempts to kill her and Egil.