Danish Film Essay, Research Paper
I. DANISH FILM
It was in June 7 1896 when Danes saw cinematographic pictures for the first time at the Haymarket (Town Hall Square now) in Copenhagen, but the first cinema (Kosmorama) was not opened until September 17,1904.At that time it was usual to have a pianist playing while the film was shown because of the noise from the projector.
Peter Elfelt(1866-1931) is a film pioneer in Denmark with some films about Greenland and royalty.
Ole Olsen created Nordisk Film Kompagni, the first Danish film company, in 1906. The most popular films at the time were comedies of different types.
In the first decade of the 20th century, Paladsteatret, the largest cinema in Northern Europe was built in Copenhagen. There an orchestra replaced the former pianist.
With World War I, film companies had to face some problems, but Danish film made some important steps.For instance, Asta Nielsen soon became the first European female film star and artificial lightning was introduced in film-making.
In 1919,Carl Theodore Dreyer started his career with The president. He is still considered one of the greatest Danish film directors of all times.
In order to succeed in the foreign market, Nordisk made some films based on Charles Dickens+ works ,but they were not successful outside Denmark, so the company lost much money.
In 1920 Robert Storm Petersen (Storm P.) directed the first animated film made in Denmark, and two years after, sound was introduced in Danish film. The Vicar of Vejlby is the first long-talking film in Denmark.
Cinema owners spent much money in equipment with the transition from silent to sound films, and, at the same time, foreign films started to be dubbed or to have subtitles in order to be understood. The first system was more a German than a Danish tradition and it did not have much success.
The decade of 1930 is a period of transition, with economic problems and artistically poor, even if the mobile camera was introduced at that time. Benjamin Christensen is one of the greatest directors of that time, but Paul Henningsen is also important for having started a new type of film: documentary.
Then, Germany occupied Denmark and that fact deeply affected film production and success. At the beginning (1940), more and more people went to the cinema, but in 1943 that number decreased. There were many restrictions in the kind of films that could be shown: it was not allowed to import films from countries in war with Germany, and British and American films were banned. That fact, together with the abolition of police force and the reduction of the public transport, caused the reduction in the number of Danes going to the cinema.
On the other hand, that was a good period for Danish film. The kind of films produced in that moment can be classified under 3 categories: escapist entertainment, patriotic films, and ambitious films.
In 1942, the experimental film was born with Plugten, directed by A. Mertz and J*rgen Roos.
After World War II, cinema attendance increased again (in 1939, 28.1 million tickets were sold, and in 1945 the total amount was 47 million), but the good moment national production had experienced ended when it was possible to watch foreign films again. However, it was now possible to openly speak about politics, and it has left its influence in the cinema, with some films about the war and the German occupation. But many entertainment films were produced and the documentary films continued to be successful.
Then the film industry started to search for support in order to compete with foreign films, and there were some measures like the tax exemption or reduction.
Cinema attendance grew until the end of 1953, but then it started to decrease, mostly due to the advance of television. Cinemas found more difficult to make a profit and some of them had to close. Small cinemas started to be replaced by bigger ones with technological advances (cinemascope, widescreen).
In December 1949 the entertainment tax was reduced to 25% for Danish films. In the 50s there were film censors appointed by the Government. Even if it was rare for a film to be banned, scenes of sexuality and violence were often cut, and two age limits (12 and 16) were set.
By 1950 the four old companies (Nordisk, Paladium, ASA and Saga) were still operating. A new one, Flamingo Film, was founded.
From 1950 to 1964, comedy was the most produced type of film. In 1956, the first feature colour film was made in Denmark: Kisses, by Erik Baling.
Palle Kj rulf-Schmidt, Carl Th. Dreyer, J*rgen Roos, Bjarne Henning-Jensen and Henning Carlsen are important names of this period.
The first half of the 50s decade was profitable for film producers due to the reduction in entertainment tax and the popularity of films produced during that time. The boycott against Danish cinemas (which did not agree to pay more money for film rentals) established by American distributors also contributed to the success of Danish film.
But when American films came back in 1958, the good time for Danish production companies ended and more cinemas had to close.
A demand for Government support started to grow, and in 1964 a new film act was created. The entertainment tax was then abolished and 15 % duty on every ticket went to grant money for several purposes: education of film technicians, film production, writing of scripts
In 1966 the Danish Film School was created.
Many production companies closed in that period, and in 1972 only 3 of them were still working: Nordisk, Danish Film Studio and Risby Studios.
The film act of 1964 was especially positive for the experimental film makers.
In 1968, Danish television and film companies reached an agreement: film companies would receive money from 20 Danish films showed in television. This was negative for cinema owners.
The film act was replaced in 1972 by a new one which took into account the interests of cinema owners, but that did not prevent many small cinemas to close their doors.
This act also considered the artistic aspects of a film and not only the trade. The ticket duty was abolished and the former Film Foundation became the Danish Film Institute, supported by the Government. Young directors found it very easy to find support for their projects.
The Film School had already trained some people who started to work in the 70s: Bille August, Edward Fleming, Morten Arnfred, Nils Malmros
However, financial problems were increasing because film production was becoming more and more expensive and the popularity of video tape recorder seriously damaged the cinema owners.
In 1970 a Workshop was established by the Film Foundation and many young people had a chance to direct, but, as the films became more and more politically provoking, the Government closed it at the end of the century.