Danish film

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Danish films have been produced since 1897 and new releases have been shown regularly since the 1980s, often largely funded by the Danish Film Institute (Det Danske Filminstitut) . Danish films are characterized by realism, religious and moral themes, sexual openness, and technical innovation.

Well-known Danish filmmakers are Benjamin Christensen , Carl Theodor Dreyer , Erik Balling , Gabriel Axel , Bille August , Ole Bornedal , Lars von Trier , Anders Thomas Jensen , Susanne Bier and Nicolas Winding Refn .



The first Dane to produce a film was the photographer Peter Elfelt . Between 1896 and 1912 he produced around 200 documentaries about life in Denmark. His first film was titled Kørsel med Grønlandskehund . He also produced the first feature film: Henrettelsen (The Execution, 1903). The first public screening of films in Denmark took place in June 1896 at the Panorama amusement establishment on Town Hall Square in Copenhagen. These came from abroad and were all about a minute long.

The Golden age

“Although the Danes only produced for a small market in Denmark and resources were limited, Denmark was considered Europe's center of film from 1904–1914. The films produced there competed with Hollywood on the screens in Paris, London, Berlin and New York for the audience. "

- Efraim Katz : Film Encyclopedia 1998

In 1906, the cinema owner Ole Olsen founded the first Danish production company, Nordisk Film Kompagni . Today it is the oldest production company still in existence in the world. The export of short films initially made up the bulk of the company's profits. Despite its success, Ole Olsen held a monopoly until 1909, and it wasn't until 1910 that the number of film production companies had grown to 10. In the spring of that year, the Nordisk began film Kompagni with the production of feature films, inspired by the movie The hvide slave trade (1910) of the Aarhus Fotorama Kompagni, who was the first Danish film with a running time of over 30 minutes and at several film roles recorded was .

As the length of the films increased, artistic skills began to become more important. With Afgrunden (1910), Asta Nielsen succeeded in becoming Europe's first female film star. The film was an erotic melodrama that became the preferred genre in Danish cinema. In 1911, Nordisk Film was the first major European company to specialize in full-time feature films under the new leading producer, which could be sold at a profit abroad, as the audience was impressed by the technology and image quality. When exporting, however, care had to be taken to weaken the erotic elements so that the working class viewers would not be deterred. With Atlantis by August Blom , the company released the first feature film with today's normal running time. It premiered in Germany on December 20, 1913.

After 1913, Danish film gradually lost its leading position in the film industry as foreign companies followed suit in the field of feature films. Another reason was the lack of fresh ideas and the lack of willingness to take risks on the part of the Danish directors to try something new. Benjamin Christensen had great success with his agent film Det hemmelighedsfulde X (The mysterious X, 1914) and the crime drama Hævnens Nat (Revenge, 1916), both of which are important works in the history of Danish film.

1920s to 1940s

During the First World War , the US took the lead in film production, after which Danish exports declined. The Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer attracted attention as a director for Nordisk Film. He filmed the drama Presidents ( The President , 1919), followed by the ambitious Blade af Satans Bog (Leaves from Satan's Book, 1921), thematically and technically inspired by the American DW Griffith and his Intolerance (1916). Nevertheless, Dreyer and Benjamin Christensen remained independent from the influential Danish production companies. In general, Danish film had to face a decline in the 1920s, which was mainly due to the technical skills of the filmmakers. The only exceptions to be mentioned are AW Sandberg , who made so-called Dickens films, and the stories of the vagabond duo Pat & Patachon . The latter represent the Scandinavian counterpart to Laurel and Hardy ("Dick and Doof"). Despite this international success of Nordisk Film competitor Palladium, Danish film had become insignificant at the end of the 1920s.

In 1929, Nordisk Film Kompagni was the first to produce sound films . Præsten i Vejlby (The Pastor of Vejlby, 1931) was the first Danish sound film and brought Nordisk Film back to the top of Danish production companies. In the 1930s, mostly light comedies were filmed, the genre “folkekomedie” (folk comedy) was born (e.g. Barken Margrethe , 1934). The depression and economic conditions prevented more serious ventures in the film industry. With the triumph of talkies, language also posed a major obstacle to the export of Danish film. Many popular stars like Marguerite Viby , Ib Schønberg and Peter Malberg had their breakthrough at this time, but despite financial success, the medium did not develop any further.

The occupation of Denmark in World War II by Germany from 1940 to 1945 provided ideal conditions for producing more serious films. Bodil Ipsen created En herre i kjole og hvidt (A Gentleman in Top Hat and Tails, 1942) and Mordets melodi (Murder Melody, 1944), a romantic comedy and a psychological thriller of international stature. The Danish films of this time generally show parallels to American film noir . But the comedy genre was also improved, especially by Johan Jacobson , a student of Ernst Lubitsch . The first years after the war were also characterized by a rising level, directors like the couple Henning-Jensen and Ole Palsbo followed a social / realistic line. But after a few years, like before the war, mostly sentimental comedies and uncomplicated, regional films were produced.

1950s to 1970s

A wide range of family comedies ("Lystspil") and "folkekomedier" (folk comedies) emerged from 1950 to the late 1970s. During this time, many Danish stars were established, such as Dirch Passer , Ove Sprogøe and the director Erik Balling . Notable films from this period are De røde heste (The Red Horses, 1950), Far til fire (Father and His Four, 1953), Kispus (1956, first Danish color film), Støv på hjernen (1961), Sommer i Tyrol (1964), Passer passer piger (1965), the Olsen Gang series (1968–1981) and Erik Balling's TV sitcom Oh, these tenants ( Huset på Christianshavn , 1970–1977).

The 1960s brought more eroticism to Danish cinema with films like Halløj i himmelsengen (Erik Balling, 1965), Sytten (Annelise Meinecke, 1965), Jeg - en kvinde (Mac Ahlberg, 1965) and Uden en trævl (Annelise Meinecke, 1968) , some of which also celebrated international success. So it was not surprising that Denmark was the first country to allow pornography in 1969 . In the 1970s, a majority of Danish films were sexually oriented and mainstream films with mainstream actors often contained soft or hardcore pornography, for example Mazurka på sengekanten (John Hilbard, 1970) and I Jomfruens tegn (Finn Karlsson, 1973) and its sequels, which formed the eight-part Sengekantsfilm (bed edge films ) and six-part Stjernetegnsfilm (star sign films) series.

"In 1970-74 about a third of Danish feature films were pornographic, followed by a sudden crash."

- Carl Nørrested : Kosmorama

Det Danske Filminstitut (DFI) was founded in 1972 with the task of promoting selected projects with government grants. As a result, the Danish state could almost completely control Danish film production, which was seen as a blessing, but also a curse.

With La 'os være (Let's do it, by Ernst Johansen & Lasse Nielsen , 1975), the independent producer Steen Herdel unleashed a wave of successful teen dramas, for example Måske ku' vi (Could We Maybe, by Morten Arnfred , 1976), Du er ikke alene (Eng. You Are Not Alone, by Ernst Johansen & Lasse Nielsen, 1978), Mig og Charly (Eng. Me and Charly, by Morten Arnfred & Henning Kristiansen, 1978) and Vil du se min smukke navle? (Do you want to see my pretty navel ?, by Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, 1978), all produced by Steen Herdel.

Erik Balling directed the still popular TV series Matador (The People of Korsbaek), which ran from 1978 to 1982.

The 1980s

At the beginning of the 1980s the Danish film industry was completely dependent on government funding from Det Dankse Filminstitut . A project was normally only carried out if the script, director, cast etc. had been approved by the Danish Film Institute. As a result, film production in Denmark was controlled by the state.

In 1983 Lars von Trier graduated from the Danish film school ("Den Danske Filmskole") and achieved international attention through the films The Element of Crime (1984) and Epidemic (1987). His extraordinary, innovative ideas were ignored by the Danish Film Institute and only brought him low viewership in Denmark. At the Cannes Film Festival he was able to take home a lot of praise and several prizes.

The homosexual teen drama Venner for altid (Forever Friends, 1987) by Stefan Henszelman (1960–1991) also achieved international success and won the audience award for best feature film at the San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival .

In the late 1980s, Danish cinema experienced a strong boost when Babette's Feast by Gabriel Axel the 1987 Academy Award as best foreign language film won and next year the same price to Bille August and his film Pelle the Conqueror went.

In the late 1980s, Mikael Salomon ended his long career in Danish film and became one of the finest cameramen, later an Emmy winner and TV director.

In the 1980s and 1990s a number of well-known directors graduated from the Danish Film School , including Lone Scherfig , Thomas Vinterberg , Susanne Bier and Per Fly .

The 1990s

Lars from Trier

Lars from Trier

The Danish film of the 1990s was dominated by Lars von Trier . His films Europa , Breaking the Waves , Idiots , and Dancer in the Dark attracted great international attention and were nominated for a variety of awards.

The Dogma 95 collective, which he co-founded , became known within the film world for its strict "conventions of simplicity", which demand a filmmaker to concentrate on the purity of the story and the performance of the actors and to focus on special effects and similar means as much as possible dispense.

The first of the "Dogma 95" requirements twisted film was The Feast of Thomas Vinterberg , which has received many awards and from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.

Part of the "Dogma 95" collective were von Trier, Vinterberg, Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen . But non-Danish filmmakers also experimented with the strict rules. Lars von Trier's own dogma film Idiots (1998) laid the foundation for an independent branch of films with unsimulated sex.

Lars von Trier also made history by becoming the first mainstream film company to produce hardcore porn with his company Zentropa . Three of these films, Constance (1998), Behind Gugern gevögelt (1999) and All About Anna (2005), were specially tailored to female viewers. You had great success in Europe and were directly responsible for legalizing pornography in Norway in March 2006.

“Women also like to watch people have sex. What they don't like are endless close-ups of banging body parts with no story behind them. Lars von Trier was the first to understand this and produced high quality female porn. "

- Star 2007

The 21st century

A trilogy by Per Fly , Bænken (Die Bank, 2000), Das Erbe (2003) and Drabet (Manslaughter - In the Vicious Cycle of Violence, 2005) show Denmark's three separate social classes and have received international praise.

The work of Susanne Bier , especially Brothers - Between Brothers (2004) and After the Wedding (2006), presented Danish actors such as Mads Mikkelsen , Ulrich Thomsen and Nikolaj Lie Kaas to the world . After the wedding , it was nominated for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards (Oscars).

Anders Thomas Jensen was first an Oscar winner as a screenwriter and director for three short films Ernst and the Light (1996), Wolfgang (1997) and Wahlnacht (1998), then as a screenwriter for feature films such as Mifune - Dogma III (1999), Forever and forever (2002), Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (2002), Stealing Rembrandt - Claws for Beginners (2003) and Brothers - Between Brothers (2004); finally directing black comedies such as Danish Delicacies (2003) and Adam's Apples (2005).

Other notable directors of the 21st century are Nikolaj Arcel , Christoffer Boe , Lone Scherfig , Niels Arden Oplev , Nicolas Winding Refn , Ole Christian Madsen , Annette K. Olesen and Christian E. Christiansen .

The first decade of the 21st century posed problems for some Danish filmmakers: while Lars von Triers Dogville (2003), starring Nicole Kidman, was a success, the audience almost completely ignored the sequel Manderlay (2005).

Thomas Vinterberg flopped with two English-language films: It's All About Love (2003) and Dear Wendy (2005). Then he tried a new attempt with a return to the Danish language : En mand kommer hjem ( A man comes home , 2007), which fell short of expectations with only 28,472 tickets sold.

The Danish financial newspaper Børsen stated on September 19, 2007: "1990'ernes filmfest er forbi" (The film festival of the 1990s is over).

Many saw a change at the top of the Danish Film Institute as the only solution for a renewal, others denied any crisis. The daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten drew a conclusion of the situation: “krise i en opgangstid” (crisis in an upswing). Because in 2008 four million tickets were sold at the Danish box office, the best result since 1981, but only a fraction was accounted for by Danish films.

Despite this, Danish film is internationally respected today and Danish films, mainly socially realistic dramas and comedies, children's films and documentaries, continue to win international awards.

Danish westerns

"Danish Westerns" are Westerns produced in Denmark , which in Danish are also known as potato westerns . The neologism potato westerns, which was created analogously to the Italian " spaghetti westerns " , western films, which were initially often kept in the style of a Danish comedy , first appeared in the course of the publication of the Eurowestern Præriens skrappe drenge in 1970, among other things the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende wrote on August 7, 1970 about “De nye danske kartoffel-westerns” (The new Danish potato westerns).

The following list contains a chronological index of Danish Westerns:

List of Danish westerns

Year of production
Movie title action Remarks
length Director actor Producer /
production company
1970 Præriens skrappe drenge ( OT )
(German four great boys of the prairie )
Dispute over a gold vein that ends in a mass brawl Western comedy, slapstick and parody of the spaghetti westerns
99 min Carl Ottosen Dirch Passer , Paul Hagen , Preben Kaas , Willy Rathnov , Karl Stegger , Sisse Reingaard , Jesper Kelin , Miskow Makwarth , Lone Lau , Eva Danné Henrik Sandberg
Merry Film
1971 Guld til præriens skrappe drenge ( OT ) Excitement over a gold transport that ends in a fist fight Western comedy, continuation of Præriens skrappe drenge
107 min Finn Karlsson Dirch Passer , Willy Rathnov , Paul Hagen , Preben Kaas , Judy Gringer , Lykke Nielsen , Preben Mahrt , Carl Ottosen , Jesper Klein , Jørgen Kiil , Lars Lunøe Henrik Sandberg
Merry Film
2012 Definitely Dead ( OT ) A story about both the rivalry and friendship of two saloon ladies Short film , nominated at the Action On Film International Film Festival 2012 in Monrovia ( Los Angeles County )
18 min Jonas Kvist Jensen Maja Muhlack , Katrine Beck Ibsen , Mads Koudal Morten Hjorth
Picturewise Film,
LoneTower Visuals,
Aarhus Filmværksted
2014 The Salvation ( OT ) Tragic story of a resettler from Denmark Western in Danish and English , production countries: DK / UK / South Africa
89 min Kristian Levring Mads Mikkelsen , Eva Green , Jeffrey Dean Morgan , Jonathan Pryce , Eric Cantona , Mikael Persbrandt , Douglas Henshall , Michael Raymond-James , Alexander Arnold , Nanna Øland Fabricius ( Oh Land ), Toke Lars Bjarke , Sean Cameron Michael , Langley Kirkwood , Robert Hobbs , Grant Swanby , Adam Neill , Carel Nel , Sivan Raphaely Sisse Graum Jørgensen

Det Danske Film Institute

The Danish state still controls film production almost entirely through the Danish Film Institute (DFI). As a result, only a few innovative ideas can be realized (The Dogma 95 movement also represented a resistance against the DFI). Criticism was also raised when Mikael Olsen, an employee of the DFI, gave 28 million Danish kroner in grants to his old school friend Peter Aalbæk Jensen and shortly afterwards took a high position in his production company.

The Danish Film Institute has nevertheless achieved a high level of professionalism, even if this only affects a few genres and production companies ( Nordisk Film , Zentropa and Nimbus Film ). In February 2008, Nordisk Film bought half of Zentropa, which often produces together with Nimbus Film. Most of the subsidies are paid to a group of companies, although this has met with little criticism in Denmark.

Nominations and Awards

Danish films for the César as best foreign film was nominated

  • 1997 - Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier) (won)
  • 1999 - Celebrations (Thomas Vinterberg)
  • 2001 - Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier)

Danish films for the César for best European film were nominated

  • 2004 - Dogville (Lars von Trier)

Danish films for the Academy Award for best foreign language film nominated

Danish films that have been nominated for the European Film Awards

"Best Film" category

  • 1988 - Pelle Erobreren (Bille August)
  • 1996 - Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier) (won)
  • 1998 - Celebrations (Thomas Vinterberg)
  • 1999 - Mifunes sidste sang (Søren Kragh-Jacobsen)
  • 2000 - Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier) (won)
  • 2001 - Italiensk for begyndere (Lone Scherfig)
  • 2002 - Lilja 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson)
  • 2003 - Dogville (Lars von Trier)
  • 2004 - Ett hål i mitt hjärta (Lukas Moodysson)
  • 2005 - Brødre (Susanne Bier)
  • 2011 - Melancholia (Lars von Trier) (won)
  • 2012 - The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)

Category "Best Director"

  • 2003 - Lars von Trier, Dogville (won)
  • 2005 - Susanne Bier, Brødre
  • 2006 - Susanne Bier, Efter brylluppet
  • 2011 - Susanne Bier, Hævnen (won)
  • 2012 - Thomas Vinterberg, The Hunt

Sundance Film Festival Award

On January 30, 2010, Mads Brüggers Det Røde Kapel (2006) won the World Cinema Prize for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in Los Angeles . The film is about a theater company visiting North Korea. Thematically the development of a totalitarian state is dealt with.


  • Marguerite Engberg: Dansk silent film. De store år , vol. 1-2. Copenh. 1977 (summary in English)
  • Ebbe Villadsen: Danish Erotic Film Classics (2005)
  • David Bordwell: Essay on Danish Cinema , from Film # 55, Denmark 2007

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Film Encyclopedia, Collins, 1998, ISBN 0-06-273492-X
  2. "Asta Nielsen". Bright Lights Film Journal.
  3. ^ IMDb trivia
  4. Carl Nørrested: Kosmorama # 195, 1991, page 48
  5. ^ IMDb information on Matador
  6. ^ Norwegian Media Authority none-censorship decision ( Memento of the original dated February 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 51 kB)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.medietilsynet.no
  7. Star No. 40, September 27, 2007
  8. DFI.dk: Films screened in Danish cinemas during the period 1976-2008 ( Memento of the original from November 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.dfi.dk
  9. ^ Børsen: Film festivals er forbi
  10. ^ Jyllands-Posten: Crisis i en opgangstid
  11. ^ Politiken, May 27, 2009: Danske film flopper i biografen
  12. a b Pia Jarvad : Ny ord: ordbog over nye ord i dansk 1955-1998 . 1st edition. Gyldendal , Copenhagen 1999, ISBN 87-00-13448-1 (Danish).
  13. a b c Western potato snack commerical in common. In: Politiken . August 14, 2012, accessed October 6, 2014 (Danish).
  14. a b Præriens skrappe drenge. Dansk Film Database , accessed October 6, 2014 (Danish).
  15. Four great boys from the prairie. In: Lexicon of International Films . Retrieved October 14, 2014 .
  16. Præriens skrappe drenge. Det Danske Filminstitut , accessed October 14, 2014 (Danish).
  17. Guld til præriens skrappe drenge. Det Danske Filminstitut , accessed October 14, 2014 (Danish).
  18. a b c d Definitely dead. Det Danske Filminstitut , accessed October 14, 2014 (Danish).
  19. a b The Salvation. Det Danske Filminstitut , accessed October 14, 2014 (Danish).
  20. Berlingske Tidende: Movie Folk: Consul Terne skal have magten
  21. ^ TV2 Finans: Nordisk Film køber Zentropa
  22. 'Winter's Bone' wins grand jury prize for drama at Sundance. Los Angeles Times. January 31, 2010.

Web links