Der var engang (1922)
aka Once Upon a Time
Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
Featuring Clara Pontoppidan, Svend Methling, Peter Jerndorff
What it is: Fairy tale
The Prince of Denmark tries to woo a haughty princess who has rejected every suitor.
The only movies I’ve seen yet from Dreyer are VAMPYR and DAY OF WRATH, and they were both so somber and serious that I was a little surprised to see the light touch employed in the first half of this movie; this sequence is rather fun. However, once the princess is exiled and forced to leave the castle so she can live with a potter, it takes a definite somber, even bleak, turn. Still, I’d find the basic plot a little depressing to begin with; it’s a variation on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, and there’s something a bit unpleasant about any movie that focuses on breaking the spirit of a spirited woman. Still, it’s a tribute to Clara Pontoppidan’s performance that she makes her character’s changes feel like growth rather than destruction. I ended up quite liking the movie, though it is incomplete; it looks like some of the movie had to be shown as a still restoration, and that includes the climax of the movie, so that makes it a little hard to judge. I also do find myself wondering about the elaborateness of the plan the Prince uses to win the princess, as it appears that it requires him to be a skilled potter as well.
As far as the fantastic content, one of the plot points revolves around a magic pot, and if I’m not mistaken, the pot is a gift from a mystical creature and has real abilities. However, it seems to be the only fantastic content in the movie, and for some odd reason, it feels a bit out of place and unnecessary.