Denmark Reading and Movie List

by Andrea Segura - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Literature on Denmark

  • Seven Gothic Tales, by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) who is also known for her autobiographical novel Out of Africa, a popular movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Other books by Dinesen: Winter’s Tales, The Angelic Avengers, The Last Tales, Shadows on the Grass and many more.
  • The History of Danish Dreams, by Peter Høeg. This author is best known for the best seller Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (published in the USA as Smilla’s Sense of Snow.)
  • Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, by Patricia Conroy and Sven Rossel.
  • Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare never actually visited Denmark, his play about murder, greed, indecision and the lust for power among the Danish royal family is perhaps his best work.
  • A History of the Vikings, by Gwyn Jones is packed with historical detail, this book can be a little tough to get through, but is one of the most complete histories of life during Viking times ever written.
  • Philosophical works of Søren Kierkegaard, by Søren Kierkegaard. Although small in stature (he was less than 5’3″ tall), Kierkegaard was a giant in 20th Century philosophy. A devoted social and religious critic, Kierkegaard is the founder of the philosophy we today call existentialism.
  • Music & Silence, by Rose Tremain is a beautifully written novel about an English lutenist (lute-player) at the court of Christian the Fourth, arguably the most famous and important of Danish Kings. Deals extensively with the king’s travails and troubles in love and life. A very good snapshot of a historical period (it’s set in the 1730’s).

Movies or TV Shows About or Set in Denmark That We Have Enjoyed

  • Babette’s Feast directed by Gabriel Axel (1987). Editorial review by Leonard Maltin: “Exquisite, delicately told tale of two beautiful young minister’s daughters who pass up love and fame to remain in their small Danish village. They grow old, using religion as a substitute for living life… and then take in Parisian refugee Audran, a woman with a very special secret. Subtle, funny and deeply felt, with several wonderful surprises: an instant masterpiece that deservedly earned a Best Foreign Film Academy Award. Axel wrote the screenplay, from an Isak Dinesen short story originally published in the Ladies Home Journal.”
  • Pelle the Conqueror directed by Bille August (1988). Review by Leonard Maltin: “Wonderful 19th-century drama about a humble old widower and his young son Pelle, Swedish immigrants in Denmark. They are simple folk with simple, modest dreams, yet they must valiantly struggle for survival in a world rife with everyday cruelties and injustices. The life-sustaining closeness between father and son is especially poignant. Oscar winner as Best Foreign Film.”
  • Italian for Beginners directed by Lone Scherfig. Charming comedy about six lonely and pretty much clueless Danes who, for reasons varied and sundry, sign up for Italian classes at a local high school. Slowly they discover each other and love. Humorous, sad, poignant and with a fresh, sharp edge.
  • Little Disasters directed by Annette K. Olesen. Wonderful film about a family where the somewhat scattered and distant members have to face each other and acknowledge each other for what they are when their wife/mother suddenly dies. The acting is superb. Funny, moving and warm without for a second being sentimental or sappy.
  • Melancholia, Breaking the Waves, the Idiots, Dancer in the Dark, directed by Lars von Trier, all movies follow the 95Dogma manifesto, they are very witty and inquisitive with a mix of sarcasm and social denounce.
  • Festen directed by Thomas Vintenberg, the film tells the story of a family gathering to celebrate the father’s 60 birthday. At dinner the eldest son publicly accuse his father of sexually abusing both him and his twin sister (who recently committed suicide). It also follows the rules of 95Dogma manifesto.
  • Brothers and In a Better World by Susanne Bier. Both movies tell family stories and dysfunctional relationships in modern Denmark.
  • Brotherhood by Nicolo Donato tells the story of a former gay soldier who falls in love with a Neo Nazi member.
  • The Bridge is a Danish/Swedish crime series: when a Swedish politician is found in the middle of the Bridge between Denmark and Sweden, the body cut in a half at the waist, both countries have jurisdiction. They later discover the 2 “halves” belong to two different women so two detectives –  one from Denmark and the other one from Sweden – try to catch the murderer.
  • The Danish Girl is a powerful movie exploring the story of a woman born in a male body taking place in Denmark and Germany.
  • Rita is a Danish TV show about a rebellious and headstrong teacher in a small school in Denmark.
  • Hjørdis is a spinoff from Rita about a goofy, idealistic and wonderfully naïve co-worker of hers.
  • Borgen is a political series about the recently elected female Prime Minister.
  • Dicte is a story about a female crime reporter returning to her hometown.

Awards, Memberships and Reviews