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Der var engang (1922)

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Title: Der var engang (1922)

Der var engang (1922) on IMDb 6.6/10

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Credited cast:
Clara Pontoppidan ...
The Princess of Illyria (as Clara Wieth)
Svend Methling ...
Peter Jerndorff ...
The King
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hakon Ahnfelt-Rønne ...
Kasper Røghat
Mohamed Archer ...
Bodil Faber ...
Wilhelmine Henriksen ...
Doktor Dorthe
Lili Lani ...
Henry Larsen ...
Frederik Leth ...
Schiøler Linck ...
Papegöje Kammerherren
Gerda Madsen
Lars Madsen ...
Torben Meyer ...
Karen Poulsen ...


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Release Date:

3 October 1922 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The recent DVD of the extant portions of this film, produced by the Danish Film Institute for sale to the public - though playable only in the European Region - reveals it is based on an operetta, which in turn was based on Shakespeare's "The Taming Of The Shrew". The first third (almost all of the sequences in the castle) survives, followed by a series of takes of low comedy [prince's servant and kitchen maids] scenes, followed by the last segment of the film (the forest scenes). Anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour is missing in the middle of the film. No shooting script or review exists so timing is not certain. The DVD runs for about 75 minutes and is all we have left of the film. This information was derived from Jean and Dale Drum's biography of Carl Dreyer: MY ONLY GREAT PASSION. See more »


Featured in Ved den danske films vugge (1941) See more »

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17 July 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It is said that Dreyer himself thought that the movie was a failure, because he relied too much on atmosphere, rather than personalities (all his great movies are character dramas). It is true that there is little psychological insight in this charming little fairytale. But whosoever enquired about the dimensionality of the pied piper of Hamelin? Some may say that Der van Engang is wanting of gravitas, I on the other hand delight in its frivolity.

The film is a succession of painterly images. The DVD is the only one I have ever bothered to take screen-captures from. The costume design is exquisite, much less gaudy than in modern period dramas. My favourite reel is of the princess and her ladies in their chamber listening to the waterborne minstrel of the prince of Denmark. Their longing is palpable, their desire clear for all to see. I can't tell you how fond I am of playing this part frame by frame. The rapt princess on her divan, a swooning lady by the window and the most adventurous daring to set eyes on the lute player and the minstrel. The yearning for adventure, romance and foreign lands, denied these beauties in their dovecote, is quite powerful.

This is a fairytale for adults. There is much escapism to be had: some of the slapstick antics of the hero's squire, Kasper Røghat, are truly amusing (including a couple of laugh-out-loud moments). However it is the atmosphere of impeccable sensuality that pleases me the most.

It is true that the taming-of-the-shrew theme of the plot gradually becomes a bit tedious. It is also a problem that the movie peters out, mostly this is because of the fragmentation towards the end due to missing reels. However Der van Engang is still very much required viewing. Not necessarily a film to recommend to fans of other Dreyer movies, it stands very much alone. Because of its sheer unadulterated innocence, if for no other reason, I suggest you watch this movie.

The DVD of this movie is available from the Danish Film Institute.

If you've seen this movie and liked it I recommend Sir Arne's Treasure by Mauritz Stiller which has recently got a DVD release.

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