Projects

Dreyer directed just 14 feature films from his debut in 1919 until his death in 1968. Throughout his career he worked on concepts and projects that were never realised. The following list is a summary of Dreyer’s unrealised projects big and small, from a script he sold to Sweden in 1914 to the big Jesus film that he worked on for more than 20 years. Links will be added as the scripts are digitised. Click the links to read articles about the individual projects.

 

Döden forener (1913)

On 7 May 1914, Dreyer sold a screenplay with this title to AB Svenska Biografteatern in Stockholm. As Swedish film historian Gösta Werner writes, Dreyer probably wrote the screenplay before he was hired by Nordisk film in June 1913. See his article Döden forener ("Death Unites,") in Chaplin, No. 139, 1975.
The script is found at the Swedish Film Institute, which has graciously donated the scanned script to carlthdreyer.dk.

View the script (courtesy of the Swedish Film Institute)

La Tosca (1926)

According to Martin Drouzy (1982, p. 116), Dreyer in 1926 wrote a screenplay based on Victorien Sardou’s play La Tosca (1887), but he was apparently unable to come to terms with the production company, La Société générale de Films, about the shape of the film.

Monsieur Lamberthier ou Satan (1933)

According to Martin Drouzy (1982, p. 148), Dreyer in early 1933 wrote a draft screenplay after watching a performance of G. Beer and Louis Verneuil’s play at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen.

L'homme ensablé (1934)

Dreyer co-wrote a script with Ernesto Quadrone based on this Italian reporter’s African adventures. When the screenplay and research were completed, they travelled to Somalia with a film crew, an old Debrie camera and 30-40,000 metres of film stock. However, Dreyer had to leave after a few weeks of shooting, having contracted malaria. The film was eventually completed by the French director Jean-Paul Paulin, opening under the title of L'esclave blanc.

Article by Ernesto Quadrone: Dreyers Mudundu bukkede under for malariaen ("Dreyer's Mudundu Succumbed to Malaria," in Danish only, translated from Italian) (Cinema - N. 67 - 1. Agosto 1951).

Quadrone's article "Il Mudundu di Dreyer" in Italian (original version)

Newspaper interview: Kvinden der var Skyld i at Carl Th. Dreyer rejste hjem fra Afrika! ("The Woman Who Was to Blame for Carl Th. Dreyer's Return Home from Africa!" – in Danish only) 

En Fader (1934) 

Back in Copenhagen after 8-9 years abroad, Dreyer wrote the screenplay for En Fader (A Father), the only script he ever wrote that was not based on a literary source or an historical event. 

Kronen (1940'erne)

Dreyer wrote a script, Kronen (The Crown), based on a novel by the Swedish author Elisabeth Bergstrand-Poulsen. Dreyer knew the author, who was attached to the project. 

The script in Danish


Därför dräbte jag (1944-45)

During his 1944-45 stay in Sweden, and following his flop with Two People, Dreyer and the Norwegian author Sigurd Hoel wrote a screenplay, Därfor dräbte jag (The reason why I killed) based on the Irish writer Max Catto’s play They Walk Alone (1937). The project was in preproduction at A. B. Luxfilm but was never realised.

Article by Gunnar Iversen: Under opløsningens måne ("Under the Moon of Dissolution," in Danish only) (Kosmorama, No. 187, spring 1989)


Andrées Nordpolen-ekspedition i ballon (1945)

During the last few months of his stay in Sweden, Dreyer worked on a documentary project about S.A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897. Dreyer was planning to mount a new expedition to shoot the film in the proper locations.

Mary Stuart (1946-47)

A British film company, Film Trader Limited, was in 1946 looking to produce a film with Dreyer as director, and he settled on the story of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), writing a script of 241 typed pages for a film with an estimated running time of 3 hours. 

Article by C. Claire Thomson in Kosmorama: History unmade - Dreyer’s unrealised Mary, Queen of Scots 

Mary Stuart - Dreyer's script in English

Medea

A fleshed-out draft screenplay based on Euripides’ tragedy Medea has been preserved. Dreyer did not want to do a slavish adaptation. Rather, he was looking to recreate the real events behind the tragedy. Lars von Trier used Dreyer’s script in 1988 for his TV film Medea.

The script in English
The script in Danish

The Jesus film

For more than 30 years, up to the time of his death, Dreyer intensely worked on his Jesus film. He had completed a script as early as 1950. A contract Dreyer signed with a wealthy American, Blevins Davis, who agreed to produce the film, proved fatal. The Jesus film was never realised. 

Read the articles about the project film and Dreyer's script for the Jesus film:

The Jesus film

 

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