Once Upon a Time, adapted from a national-romantic play by the Danish writer Holger Drachmann, is set in a fairytale past. The jolly old king of the rococo land Illyria lets his beautiful, but capricious, daughter have her way in all things. She not only rejects every suitor who comes to call, she also has them executed. Only the Prince of Denmark, happening by on his travels with his faithful sidekick Kaspar Røghat, has such a way with words that the princess lets him live, even while as she spurns him, too. Back home in the woods of Denmark, the prince meets a mysterious old man who gives him a magic kettle. Disguised as a pauper, the prince tricks the princess into letting him into her bedroom. Alerted by Røghat, the king comes charging in and banishes his daughter. She is now forced to live with the pauper in his cabin deep in the woods. By and by, her disposition softens and she learns to love him – so much, in fact, that she chooses him when she gets a second chance to marry the prince; fortunately, they are one and the same. —carlthdreyer.dk
Carl Theodor Dreyer was born out of wedlock to a Swedish housekeeper, Josefina Nilsson (1855-1891), who gave him up for adoption immediately after. The first year and a half of his life was turbulent, but the little boy finally found a home with the Dreyer family and was named Carl Theodor after his adoptive father. Dreyer’s birth mother died not long after his eventual adoption. Several film scholars have interpreted Dreyer’s frequent depictions of tragic women as an autobiographical element in his films.
Dreyer began his career as a reporter, specialising in aviation early on, in 1910-1913. Himself an active balloonist, he got a balloonist’s certificate in November 1911. Alongside his journalism, he wrote screenplays. His first realised script was Bryggerens Datter (Dagmar) (Rasmus Ottesen, 1912), produced by Det Skandinavisk-russiske Handelshus. In 1913-1918, he worked as a script consultant and writer at Nordisk Film, where he also made his directorial debut… read more