According to the Danish Film Institute, which is responsible for the restoration of this film, approximately only half of the original film remains. At 75 minutes, this restoration includes stills and explanatory title cards to compensate for much of the lost footage. As it is, "Once Upon a Time" isn't very good. Yet, one can see significant improvements in Carl Theodor Dreyer's film-making here, and he would make his first great film, in my opinion, next with "Michael".
The film clearly resembles Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", with the story being about a Danish prince who, much through stratagem, tames a rebellious princess into loving, marrying and obeying him. The original film was probably more succinct and explanatory, but the plotting is occasionally perplexing as is. The cinematography is quite good at times, including some chiaroscuro effects. Some of the acting, or rather direction of the actors, is awkward at times, though. There's some comic relief, too, although not like in Dreyer's more entertaining early film, "The Parson's Widow" (Prästänkan) (1920). "Once Upon a Time" isn't a terrible waste of time, and it can be entertaining, but I recommend skipping it for the director's more acclaimed and available works.
2 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?