Danish silent films are made digitally accessible


Fy & Bi (Long & Short) in “The Smugglers” © Det Danske Filminstitut/Palladium

From 2019, under the direction of the Danish Film Institute, the entire Danish silent film heritage will be researched, restored and made digitally public. One focus of the project is the processing and communication of film history from the beginnings of cinema to the time of sound film as a ‘living film archive’. This includes an online platform with films and documents for educational institutions, film series in cinemas and a new silent film festival in organised by Cinematek of Copenhagen.

Danish film production in the silent film era was the world leader from around 1910 onwards. Directors like Carl Th. Dreyer and Urban Gad, stars like Asta Nielsen, but also comedians like Carl Schenstrøm & Harald Madsen (“Long & Short”) became world famous. In particular, there were manifold relationships with Germany. A German-Danish research project on film-cultural interrelationships, in which the University of Copenhagen and the Institute for Scandinavian Studies at the University of Cologne are collaborating, is therefore also involved in the digitisation project.

A total of approx. 415 film titles with a running time of 350 hours are to be researched, digitised and published. The vast majority of the preserved film heritage are short films of all kinds – many of them will be shown again for the first time after their premiere 100 years ago.

The model for the project’s online platform is “Danmark på Film”, where more than 1,000 documentaries can already be viewed interactively on a timeline from 1899 to 1995.

In its press release, the Danish Film Institute describes the project as the country’s largest film mediation project to date. This was made possible by the support of three foundations, which together provide around Euro 4 million, and the Danish Film Fund, which provides around Euro 2.3 million for the digitisation of the film heritage between 2019 and 2023.


En fælles filmkultur – Danmark og Tyskland i stumfilmperioden 1910–1930/A Shared Film Culture – Denmark and Germany in the Silent Period, 1910–1930: Institut für Skandinavistik der Universität zu Köln

Clip zum Download: Filmens Helte (Fy & Bi, 1928)

Example Danmark på film: Schlittenfahrt mit Grönland-Hunden (1897)

Example Danmark på film: Kaiser Wilhelms Ankunft in Kopenhagen (1905)