Filmmaking History in Denmark

By Mitchell, George J | American Cinematographer, February 1989 | Go to article overview

Filmmaking History in Denmark


Mitchell, George J, American Cinematographer


Producer-cinematographer George Mitchell became 'fascinated by Denmark's rich film heritage after reading Bebe Bergsten's book, "The Great Dane" (Locare Research Group, Los Angeles, 1973), and studying early Danish films that were restored by Kemp Niver, ASC, from the Library of Congress paper print collection. Recently Mitchell, an ASC associate member, visited the Nordisk Studio in Copenhagen through the courtesy of Bo Christiansen, producer of the 1988 Academy Award winning Best Foreign Language Film, Babette's Feast, and managing director of Nordisk Production A/S.

-Ed.

Denmark was the first of the Scandinavian countries to adopt and develop the motion picture as early as 1898, when a Lumiere Cinematograph was used by the court photographer, P. Elfelt, to record the Danish Royal Family The early years paralleled other countries in the evolution of motion pictures, the cameras being used to record mainly news events or items of interest.

This all changed when Ole Olesen, onetime poor Danish farm boy, carnival performer, amusement park director and movie house owner formed Nordisk Films Kompagne in some bungalows in the Valby section of Copenhagen. The date was November 6, 1906. Despite the first World War, which cut off its international market, and the German occupation of Denmark in the second, Nordisk has survived. It remains today an active, thriving organization owning a well-equipped studio, theaters and a distribution network.

Nordisk is the oldest motion picture studio in the world in terms of continuous operation. It has achieved a long and honorable history.

Olesen's little studio prospered and quickly became internationally known for delivering popular entertainment. Its trademark (still used today) of a polar bear atop the world become a symbol of top quality films of the early days.

In 1907 Nordisk began exporting films abroad. Within three years, 1907-1910, the studio turned out 560 pictures, mainly 10 to 15 minutes in length. Film exchanges were opened in London, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Zurich, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg (Leningrad). In the United States an office was opened at 7 East 14th Street in New York City, next door to the Biograph Studio - no accident because the company was licensed under Biograph as a member of the Motion Picture Patents Group or "Trust" as it was called. The American name for Nordisk was the Great Northern Film Company.

According to Bebe Bergsten in her history of Nordisk, Ole Olesen and two associates, an engineer named Sorensen and an ex-Army sergeant Viggo Larsen, who doubled as both an actor and director, turned out over a hundred films during their first year of production. These were five minute comedies, sporting shorts and nature films - an impressive feat for amateurs. Larsen directed and starred in some of the earliest Sherlock Holmes films.

One of Olesen's earliest actors was Jean Hersholt, whom he introduced to films. He soon came to the United States where he became a versatile and popular character actor, best remembered today for his work in organizing the Motion Picture Relief Fund. The Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarium Award is named in his honor.

Olesen is credited with introducing the multiple reel feature abroad. Many of these early pictures are preserved at the Danish Film Museum in Copenhagen. Others are at the Library of Congress film archives in Washington. They show a characteristic national style, a dramatic conflict of human emotions with social conventions. Much of this was due to the creative skills of the studio's directors.

August Blom was one of the early Nordisk directors of ability. Others were A. W. Sandberg, Urban Gad, Lau Lauritzen, Benjamin Christiansen and Sven Gade. (The last two came to Hollywood in the rnid-1920's directing for MGM and Universal respectively.) The most famous of the Nordisk directors was undoubtedly Carl Theodor Dreyer, considered by many film historians and critics as one of the world's all-time great directors. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Filmmaking History in Denmark
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.