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Better than the typical Danish production, but not without flaws
After having seen this at the cinema, I can't help but wonder... what exactly was the point? Two hours spent, and the only message I could find in the film was that Hans Christian Andersen just really didn't want to do anything other than, well, what he wanted to do, not even if it meant becoming the great talent he wanted to be(and famous, apparently, according to the film). Now don't get me wrong; the film isn't bad. Not at all. It has surprisingly good production values for a mini-series(and a Danish one at that). There are some very impressive effective cinematographic effects, like zooming in at an intense pace on people's faces, tiny details to show us Andersen's insecurity and make us feel it with him. The script is reasonably good, though most of it is fiction, slightly based on truth(which makes the film a bit redundant, because it diminishes it from a great piece of film about one of Denmarks greatest authors of all time to a typical film with some historical truth in it). The plot is pretty good, and the pacing is good enough. Only one of the five people I saw the film with thought it was too long, and that was mainly because she, like I, thought it was somewhat pointless. The dialog is mostly well-written, though there are downright embarrassing exceptions. I think the main problem with the film lies in the execution, particularly the way Andersen is presented. Let me cut right to the chase; he's whiny. He moans and whines constantly about his life, his imagination, everything... and the thing is, if someone saw this mini-series without knowing his past(which this doesn't deal with, this only revolves around his teen years, just before he first became successful), they might think that's what he was. If one didn't know the tragic truth about him before seeing this, they certainly wouldn't know after, either. The invention of the character of Tuk removes the point, the very strength of the story of Andersen's popularity; by putting in a friend, someone who supported him and helped him. The thing is, he was alone. For his whole life. And that's what makes his stories so strong. He never belonged. And that's what many of his stories are about. Too few authors write about that, and the fact that this film missed that is an eternal testament to mainstream films and possibly Danish cinema in general. It's not supposed to be cookie-cut, clean and dry. Life isn't like that. Most of the acting is good. Henning Jensen makes Mr. Meisling come to life, and Simon Dahl Thaulow looks and acts the role of Andersen well. Puk Scharbau is good as Meisling's wife, but I suspect she was mainly put in to please the young males in the audience(which she certainly succeeds in doing) and fill one particular scene with the smutty, crude humor Danish films are (in?)famous(and hated by me) for. A good film, but in the end, it's just the typical formulaic one-man-rises type film, made in an attempt(yet another one) to cash in on the poor man's popularity('incidentally', the release of this coincides with Andersen's 200 year birthday). To make it a tad better, there are a few good references to his poetry and his fairy tales, as well as a few bits of historical truth to make it easier to swallow. I recommend this to fans of Danish cinema and possibly fans of Andersen, though they should definitely make sure they know that this has very little to do with the true story. 7/10
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