Wild Child

A young boy from the Danish West Indies (Jimmy Sterman) and his pet fox hide from villagers in his new home near Copenhagen in PAW (1959) aka Boy of Two Worlds.

Prior to the 1960s, it was unusual to encounter more than a few women film directors working in Europe, much less the U.S. One of the rare exceptions was Astrid Henning-Jensen, who is considered one of first female directors in the Danish film industry to achieve international recognition. Two other female contemporaries of Henning-Jensen, Bodil Ipsen and Alice O’Frederick, were equally famous in their native Denmark but Henning-Jensen is the only one to enjoy wider recognition in America due to her 1959 film, Paw aka Boy of Two Worlds, which was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film that year (It lost to Black Orpheus).

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The Ship of Heaven

The Danish film poster for A TRIP TO MARS (Himmelskibet, 1918) aka The Ship of Heaven aka The Sky Ship.


Space travel was truly a visionary concept when Jules Verne first introduced it in his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon and it continued to attract readers when H.G. Wells explored the idea further a few years later in 1901’s First Men in the Moon. Although both authors were fascinated with science and technology, these novels were essentially outlandish adventures with elements of humor and satire. Even the first acknowledged film about an expedition into outer space—Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (1902)—was a whimsical fantasy rather than a realistic approach to the subject. Fifteen years later, the release of the Danish film A Trip to Mars (Himmelskibet), directed by Holger-Madsen, announced a new kind of approach.

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All of Them Witches

Lisbeth Movin stars as Anne Pedersdotter, a young widow accused of witchcraft in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath (1943).

When social order breaks down, rational thought or common sense do not always follow. The result could be the kind of mass paranoia and hysteria that created the persecution of people as witches in Europe during the 13th to 15th century as well as in America (the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692). That shameful chapter in history has been the subject of numerous books and literary works such as Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible.  As for the cinema, most movie critics seem to agree that the finest film to ever address this kind of aberrant phenomenon is Carl Theodore Dreyer’s Vredens dag (1943, English title: Day of Wrath).   Continue reading