Danish classic Lucky Per to become €7.4m television series
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Danish Oscar-winning director Bille August has co-written and will direct the adaptation of author Henrik Pontoppidan’s 1904 classic
”To me Lucky Per is the greatest work ever written in Danish – it is made for film,” said Danish Oscar-winning director Bille August of Danish author Henrik Pontoppidan’s 800-page, 1904 classic, which will later this year (August) go into production as a 4x55min mini series for Danish broadcaster TV2, to air in the autumn of 2017.
Big Danish company Nordisk Film Production bought the film rights for Lucky Per four years ago from Gyldendal Publishing, to originally make a feature for August. ”But as we were working our way though the novel, we realised it would have more meaning if it was more than feature-length,” explained Nordisk producer Thomas Heinesen, who will finish the script by August with his screenwriter son, Anders Frithiof August.
Pontoppidan wrote his partly autobiographical story between 1898-1904, about the 16-year-old son of a patriarchal, pious priest in western Denmark who turns his back on the clerical and the spiritual and goes to Copenhagen to study engineering; here he becomes betrothed to a Jewish plutocrat’s daughter. Per Sidenius has big plans for canal and harbor projects in his native Jutland, which eventually all fail.
In the end he embraces his Christian roots, returns to his home region and spends the last years of his life in ascetic contemplation, while carrying out the dreary work of a civil servant. ”He wasn’t happy, because he didn’t want to be happy in the general sense of the word," Pontoppidan concluded.
With €1.6 million in funding from the Danish Film Institute’s Public Service budget, the €7.4 million series was presented as a work-in-progress at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Heinesen will produce Lucky Per with Karin Trolle, Dirk Brüel will shoot the footage for Anne Østerud and Janus Billeskov Jansen will edit, with Anja Philip responsible for the casting.