Though best known for the films of Carl Theodor Dreyer, such as The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and Gertrud (1964) and the more recent work of the Dogme ’95 movement, spearheaded by the ever-controversial Lars von Trier, there is a whole lot more to Danish cinema than these more famous filmmakers. In this mini-season we showcase six other great Danish films, ranging from literary adaptations to documentaries.
Thank you to the Danish Cultural Institute for providing the films for this season.
Hunger / Sult
Henning Carlsen | Denmark | 1966 | 112 minutes
In 1890, Pontus, the starving writer, wanders the streets of Christiania, in search of love and a chance to get his work published. All he meets is defeat and suffering while his sense of reality is withering. One moment his is delighted and the next he curses everybody. All the time he manages to maintain human dignity and pride. Adapted from Knut Hamsum’s novel of the same name.
A Sunday in Hell / En forårsdag i Helvede
Jørgen Leth | Denmark | 1976 | 111 minutes
Starting with the preparation needed by the teams and cyclists prior to the event, this documentary follows one of the oldest and most famous one day classic bike races – the Paris-Roubaix. Mixing country roads with more urban settings, the race is a challenging event that goes across cobbled roads and increasingly tough terrain. We watch the race to see the field gradually weeded down to the winners and the fate of the losers and the support riders.
Waltzing Regitze / Dansen med Regitze
Kaspar Rostrup | Denmark | 1989 | 102 minutes
Karl Åge and Regitze host a summer garden party for close friends, their son, and his family. Karl Åge is quiet, detached; Regitze is spirited, lively. He thinks back: love at first sight during the war, living together unmarried, her mother’s hunger strike when they won’t baptize their son. Regitze is passionate and forthright; she speaks her mind.
Fear Me Not / Den du frygter
Kristian Levring || Denmark | 2008 | 95 minutes
42-year-old Michael needs a change in his life, so when he hears about clinical trials for a new anti-depressant, he signs up to be a guinea pig – without telling his family. Because of dangerous side effects, the trial is subsequently abandoned but Michael continues to take the pills. Having lost all control, Michael’s repressed instincts resurface with a force and violence that no-one could have predicted.
Into Eternity: A Film for the Future
Michael Madsen | Denmark / Sweden / Finland / Italy | 2010 | 75 minutes
Not to be confused with that psycho from Reservoir Dogs, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen is the rare documentarist interested in a complete cinematic experience. Pondering what we do with nuclear waste – Scandinavia’s foremost energy experts chip in – his film’s fashioned as a work of ambient science fiction, the camera drifting down the tunnels of Onkalo, a Finnish facility with miles of underground space, which will eventually be plugged up with concrete. How are the dangers of this present-day Pyramid to be signposted? Formally exacting and sonically immersive, Madsen’s approach is so hypnotic you emerge as if roused from a troubling dream.
– Tim Robey, The Telegraph
The Experiment / Eksperimentet
Louise N D Freidberg | Denmark | 2010 | 90 minutes
The Experiment tells the story of the nurse Gert, who is appointed as headmistress of a special children’s home, owned by the Danish state in Greenland, 1951. The children’s home is intended to accommodate 16 carefully selected Greenlandic children, who have just come home after a year of civilization in Denmark. Now they are to be introduced into the Greenlandic community as role models. Gert, who lives alone and has no family, accepts the assignment with pride. She is idealistic and ambitious and feels passionate about saving Greenland from destitution. The means to this end is to educate and civilize the 16 children in the Danish language and culture, so they can spearhead Greenland’s transformation from being a poor hunter society to being an equal part of Denmark.