Medieval noblewomen in ornate dresses and heavy powder on a garden lawn in a still from 'Once Upon A Time' (1922)
Once Upon A Time (1922)

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque

Once Upon a Time

Der var engang

Carl Theodor Dreyer | Denmark | 1922 | Unclassified (15+)
Virtual cinema

This event has ended and tickets are no longer available.


18–24 Oct 2021

View online

In this comedic medieval fantasy, the Prince of Denmark (Svend Methling) proposes marriage to the Princess of Illyria (Clara Pontoppidan). After being rejected, he’s given a magic kettle that reflects the image of himself and the princess living in a forest hut, and so contrives to make this a reality.

Based on a nationalistic 1887 play by Holger Drachmann, itself a blend of Hans Christian Andersen’s 'The Swineherd' and Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the film features a tantalising blend of fantastical elements with historically accurate Northern/Central European costumes and sets, as directed by soon-to-be cinema master, Dreyer.

Those only familiar with Dreyer’s austere sound films (Day of Wrath, Ordet) will likely be surprised by the light-hearted nature of this early work. Funny and mysterious, this partially-lost film gives crucial insight into Dreyer’s beginnings within his home country’s film industry, and was released just four years before his 1926 move to France where he would direct the landmark La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928).

– Andréas Giannopoulos, Melbourne Cinémathèque committee member

Format: Digital
Language: Silent with Danish and English intertitles
Source: Danish Film Institute
Courtesy: Danish Film Institute
Runtime: 75 mins

Event duration

75 mins


Unclassified (15+)


Streaming online for FREE on

Watch now

Accompanying feature

You might also like