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I loved this film as a child, and brought it home on DVD to share with my children, who enjoyed it too. Goes to prove that a good film does not degrade in time, even if it does not feature blue-skinned 3-D creatures from a different world… Story counts, and very few can imagine it as Hand Christian Andersen did, and as the wonderful Danny Kaye brought it to life, with the help of plenty other good actors, and the direction of Charles Vidor. As a child I took the film to be the real story of Andersen, even though it is stated at the opening titles it’s not a biography but a fairytale about his life. Now, as an adult, I read a bit about Andersen and I am afraid I prefer the tale over the truth… Still, we are forever in debt for this creative mind and for me, no one can represent Andersen better than Danny Kaye.
I am tempted to be corny and state that they don’t make films like this anymore… and that would probably be true. Gone are Akira Kurosawa, Bergman and Hitchcock; and mostly gone are subtleties in filmmaking, where every sound was used scarcely and only when needed, when silence had a meaning, when the camera moved to reveal and hide, and not just to satisfy some whims of a freshman filmmaker with a shot-them-all budget.
Kurosawa takes his time to build the story and tell it to its finest detail. Yes, it would seem to lengthy today. But like good wine, (or so I am told as I am not a wine fanatic), it takes its time and you can’t really speed it up without losing something in the flavor. So if you were born past the 60s, wait a few more years before taking it out on DVD.
Some quotes that stuck from the film:
“I can't afford to hate people. I don't have that kind of time.”
“You're not supposed to do anything there. Doing anything but nothing is radical.”
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