After winning the Palme d'Or and the Oscar, Pelle the Conqueror becomes a TV series
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Per Fly, whose English-language film Backstabbing for Beginners is in post-production, will helm the 8 x 60-minute HBO Nordic production
Danish director Bille August's Pelle the Conqueror (1987), which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, the Golden Globe, the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film and another 19 prizes, will return to the small screen as an 8 x 60-minute television series produced by the HBO Nordic TV channel.
Danish screenwriter Rasmus Heisterberg, who last year directed his feature debut, In the Blood [+see also:
interview: Rasmus Heisterberg
film profile], will deliver the screenplay, and Danish director Per Fly will helm the Danish literary classic with Danish producer Meta Louise Foldager and Copenhagen’s SAM Productions.
“The series will depict a significant historical period in Denmark – it is based on weighty literary material, and has a strong meaning and value as a public-service project,” said Claus Ladegaard, deputy director of the Danish Film Institute, which has supported the project. “It is a classic Danish narrative, now to be developed and interpreted by a group of Denmark's most talented filmmakers, so it will be interesting to see what happens when it is combined with HBO's well-known originality and courage.”
Danish author Martin Andersen Nexø published Pelle the Conqueror in four volumes between 1906 and 1910. It is about two Swedish immigrants to Denmark – a father, Lasse, and his son, Pelle – who try to build a new life for themselves. Set at the end of the 19th century, the first book was adapted in 1986 by German director Christian Steinke for a DDR-FS TV movie, and the following year by August, whose two-hour-37-minute feature was produced by Denmark's Per Holst, with Swedish actor Max von Sydow and Danish actor Pelle Hvenegaard in the leads.
Besides the Oscar – Denmark's second – the Golden Globe and the top prize at Cannes, the film received two Guldbagge Awards (Sweden's national film prize), eight Roberts from the Danish Film Academy and four Bodils from the Danish Film Critics. Von Sydow and Hvenegaard each received a European Film Award for their acting.
Foldager acquired the rights for volumes two to four in 2012, and has since worked with Fly, whose films include the 2000-2003 trilogy The Bench, Inheritance and Manslaughter [+see also:
film profile]; the latter earned him the Nordic Council Film Prize. He is currently in post-production with his English-language thriller Backstabbing for Beginners (see the news).
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