I’m always on the lookout for new adaptations of lesser-known fairy tales, and just over a month ago I was lucky enough to find one practically on my doorstep, at the National Gallery of Art.1 De Vilde Svaner (The Wild Swans) is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beautiful stories,2 and I had high expectations. The more I read about this production, an hour-long Danish film with art design created by–no joke–Queen Margrethe II of Denmark,3 the more apprehensive I became. A film with découpage backdrops and actors greenscreened in? I just wasn’t convinced that they’d be able to pull it off.
And oh boy, was I wrong! I spent that hour in the National Gallery watching one of the most artistic, imaginative films I’d ever seen. The integration of two-dimensional art with live actors was seamless, and the movie somehow bridged that gap between the limitless world of storybook illustration and the realism of live-action cinema. As the actors wandered through the extraordinary, ornate sets, I had to remind myself that it was all just made of magazines, cut out and glued in place. I had the surreal feeling of experiencing the story both on paper and on the screen.
Take a look at two of the sets:
Unfortunately, the DVD isn’t available in the US, so the only way you can see what I’m raving about is by watching the (very beautiful) trailer:
And in case you’re not already thinking of running away to Denmark to catch a screening of this film, here are even more gorgeous images: