History of Danish Cinema

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The Danish “Golden Age” of cinema is owed almost wholly to Nordisk Films Compagni and the strategic decisions it made in the early 1910s to differentiate its films in order to ensure a strong exportation of its product. Likewise, the demise of Denmark’s film industry is owed in part to Nordisk and its inability to deviate from its profitable formula for successful film among an ever-evolving industry. This paper will examine Denmark’s quick rise to cinematic influence during its Golden Age, detail the changes Nordisk and other Danish filmmakers made and the subsequent impact on cinema internationally, as well as investigate possible reasons for the fall of both Nordisk and Denmark. Danish film had a relatively late start–its first production company, Nordisk Films Compagni, wasn’t established until 1906 (Engberg 63). Ole Olsen, the founder of Nordisk, was a businessman who owned a cinema and saw both the extreme demand for film and lack of supply internationally. He focused his efforts on exporting films and by the end of 1906 had a branch in Berlin and representatives in several countries across Europe. By 1910 Nordisk utilized vertical integration to become one of the largest film production companies in Europe and usher in the Golden Age of Danish cinema, from 1911-1914. At this time Nordisk was the second largest film firm in the world behind Pathé in France, producing several hundred films a year (Neergaard 218). 1910 was a landmark year where Nordisk sought to differentiate itself and increase exports. A new artistic director, August Blom, ushered in Denmark’s golden era along with a host of new, strict rules about what kinds of films to produce. Nordisk dramatically reduced its production of period pieces (“costume films”) and instead focused on realistic films about the middle-class set in the present. A new emphasis was placed on scriptwriters, who were instructed to create stories that were simple and easily understood internationally, meaning fewer...
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