A Film-progressive Nation: The Social Denmark Series and the British Documentary Movement

C. Claire Thomson

in Short Films from a Small Nation

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2018 | ISBN: 9781474424134
Published online September 2018 | e-ISBN: 9781474444712 | DOI:

Series: Traditions in World Cinema

A Film-progressive Nation: The Social Denmark Series and the British Documentary Movement

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In the immediate post-WWII period, Danish documentary filmmaking was recognised overseas as productive and of high quality. This chapter tells the story of a collaboration between Ministeriernes Filmudvalg and the British Documentary Movement, which resulted in a package or series of five films made for the foreign market and entitled Social Denmark. The British documentarist Arthur Elton was invited to Copenhagen to oversee the production of one or more films which would promote newly-liberated Denmark to the world as a modern, progressive, democratic nation. Elton’s report on the state of Danish documentary and recommendations for its further development is discussed in detail as a snapshot of the state-of-the-art in international informational film production and distribution. Informational filmmaking was regarded in and of itself as a progressive act. The film People’s Holiday (Søren Melson, 1947) is analysed as an example of the Social Denmark films. The impact of conflicting political and aesthetic interests on its production is discussed, as well as the routes by which ‘facts’ emerge as such in the film, and its reception. The role of the auteur Carl Th. Dreyer in the production and promotion of Social Denmark is also considered.

Keywords: Danish cinema; Social Denmark films; British Documentary Movement; Arthur Elton; Carl Th. Dreyer

Chapter.  9607 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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