The War that didn’t Happen

Pro Patria (In the Defence of the Nation)
R: August Blom. B: Fritz Magnussen. K: Johan Ankerstjerne. D: Carl Lauritzen, Valdemar Psilander, Alma Hinding, Gunnar Sommerfeldt, Aage Hertel, Volmer Hjorth-Clausen, Erik Holberg, Axel Mattsson. P: Nordisk Films Kompagni. Dk  1915/16
Print: Det Danske Filminstitut
Danish titles, Span. subtitles

“The war that didn’t happen in 1914-1918.” (IMDb)

“In the years leading up to the First World War, Danish film gained a prominent position among the world’s film producing countries, with Nordisk Films Kompagni the leading company. Danish productions included several war films and films dealing with war-related topics (…). Most of these films, especially after the war broke out, treated the topic from a critical, anti-war stance, as in Pax æterna (1917). This corresponds well with the country’s neutrality in the war, although other approaches also can be found, for instance in the heroic Pro Patria (1916). (…)

An early example of a feature film about a war related topic is En moderne Søhelt (A Modern Naval Hero, 1907) with the multi-artist Robert Storm Petersen (1882-1949) playing a naval officer. This was followed by some films with historical settings, most importantly the ambitious screen version of the author H.P. Holst’s (1811-1893) popular patriotic-epic poem ‘Den lille Hornblæser’ (1849) about the First Schleswig War, 1848-1851. The film Den lille Hornblæser (The Little Bugler) by director Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen (1886-1947) was loosely based on the poem and shot during the summer 1909 by Nordisk’s rival Fotorama in Aarhus, with actors from the local theatre and dragoons and infantrymen from the Aarhus garrisons. The film was a great success and led Fotorama and other companies to shoot more ‘national films’ dealing with war. (…) Urban Gad (1879-1947) and Alexander Christian (1881-1937) directed a film version of colonel Peter Frederik Rist’s (1844-1926) partly autobiographical novel ‘En Rekrut fra 64’ (A Recruit from 64, 1889) for the new company A/S Kinografen in 1910. Gunnar Helsengreen (1880-1939) directed the tragic ‘national war play’ En Helt fra 64 (A Hero from 64, released 26 January 1911) for Fotorama. (…)

In February 1916, Nordisk released a regular war film: Pro Patria, directed by August Blom (1869-1947) and with the greatest Danish male film star at the time, Valdemar Psilander (1884-1917), in the leading role (Psilander tragically died at age 32 the following year). The film tells the story of an unexpected war between two unspecified neighbouring countries – the names on both sides sound German – including a melodramatic love story. General von Wimpfen’s daughter, Elsa, is engaged to Lieutenant Alexis von Kirkhowen, a military attaché at the neighbouring state’s embassy in von Wimpfen’s country. When war is declared, the general forbids his daughter to see Alexis, who is now his enemy. (…) The plot is rather melodramatic and unrealistic. According to [Ron] Mottram, Pro Patria ‘takes a pro-war stand and seems to imply that war is just a matter of honour in which enemies really respect each other.’ Nevertheless, the film was a great success in Denmark, if different advertisements from Viktoria Teatret cinema in Copenhagen are accurate.”
Bjarne Søndergaard Bendtsen: Film/Cinema (Denmark)
1914-1918 online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War

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