This two-part film is fantastically-made, beautifully-acted, and has a wonderful musical score. But more than anything else, it is eye-opening and heart-breaking. The unbelievably difficult life that Andersen led is portrayed here in the form of long flashbacks; the film moves back and forth in time, more or less chronologically, between Andersen as a kid, as a teenager/young man, and as an adult/old man. Sometimes, Andersen's fairy tales take on a life of their own and seem to intrude into the real world. There are sequences where Andersen's shadow comes to life, where a prince comes to a princess in the form of a pig-keeper, and where Andersen himself is transported into the future. In that sense, it goes a tiny bit beyond being a biography. But as a biographical film, it is brilliant.
What is most impressive here is the acting - the actor portraying Andersen does a painfully, amazingly good job of portraying the "ugly duckling" that the real historical Andersen was. For those not acquainted with Andersen's biography, it may be a real eye-opener. A lot of the time, it is not an easy film to watch. But it is clear that the people working on it worked with the highest level of artistry. I think that it's an extremely fitting tribute to Andersen's legacy, and a very faithful retelling of Andersen's life story - not getting every single detail right, but exactly on the mark in the general feel.
The film is not for everyone, though - first of all, it's absolutely not a family film, strange as that may sound. There are some disturbing scenes and female nudity. Also, bullies (whether kids or adults) will think the film stupid and annoying, just as they thought Andersen when he was a child. If someone finds horrifying the thought of seeing a film about a very awkward, "ugly duckling" of a person, and laughs at weird people rather than sympathising with them, this film is not for them.
If you want to see a film which is true to the spirit of Andersen, however, you're in for an amazing delight. While it is often a sad film, it is also a very colourful one and a very good one.
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