6 Best Danish Movies Movies to Watch

Staff & contributors

Danish writer-director Lars von Trier concludes his so-called Depression trilogy with the two parts of Nymphomaniac, an elaborate retelling of the life of a young woman (played by Stacy Martin and then, by Charlotte Gainsbourg) lived from one libidinous pleasure to another. The film's elaborate subplots have a life of their own and flashbacks often take center stage in Joe's auto-narration. Nymphomaniac I introduces the audience to adolescence and early adulthood, through disappointments, adultery, death drive, and extreme ambivalence. Joe's process of self-actualization seems contested and inspiring at the same time, and Gainsbourg is really given the screen time to shine; even more so than in Trier's previous psycho-social drama, Antichrist. Typically for the rich treasury of cultural references, Bach, Edgar Allan Poe, and Fibonacci play crucial parts in reconstructing the symbolic planes in Joe's story. Oh, and Part One opens with Rammstein's "Führe mich", which in itself is an perfectly valid reason to give it a go.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ananya Berg, Anders Hove, Andreas Grötzinger, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christian Slater, Christoph Jöde, Christoph Schechinger, Clayton Nemrow, Connie Nielsen, Cyron Melville, Hugo Speer, James Northcote, Jamie Bell, Jeff Burrell, Jens Albinus, Jesper Christensen, Jesse Inman, Mia Goth, Michael Pas, Nicolas Bro, Peter Gilbert Cotton, Saskia Reeves, Shia LaBeouf, Simon Böer, Sofie Kasten, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Stacy Martin, Stellan Skarsgård, Tomas Spencer, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe

Director: Lars von Trier

Rating: Not Rated, NR

On the one hand, Godland is a film about nature’s unforgiving beauty. Like the photographs the priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) takes, these quietly superb scenes speak for themselves. The Earth moves in mysterious and harsh ways, and we are but mere specks, organic matter to be folded in and absorbed, in the grand scheme of things. It would’ve worked with just this message alone, but Godland also treads on political ground. Through Lucas, who is Danish, and his travel guide Ragnar (Ingvar Sigurdsson), who is Icelandic, we sense a palpable tension that electrifies the film with a colonial strain. There are layers to their deep aversion (and dependence) on one another, and director Hlynur Pálmason does well to pair this with imagery that is just complex, profound, and packed with meaning.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Elliott Crosset Hove, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, Jacob Ulrik Lohmann, Vic Carmen Sonne, Waage Sandø

Director: Hlynur Palmason

Sisters Martine and Filippa, daughters of a founder of a religious sect, live a simple and quiet life in a remote coastal village in Denmark. Throughout the course of their lives, they reject possible romances and fame as part of their commitment to deny earthly attachments. This is upended by the sudden arrival of a French immigrant named Babette, who served as their house help to escape the civil war raging in her country.

Babette’s Feast is an inquiry into simplicity and kindness, and whether these would be sufficient to achieve a life of contentment. The religious undertones perfectly fit with the film’s parable-like structure, where bodily and spiritual appetites are satisfied through a sumptuous feast of love, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Asta Esper Hagen Andersen, Axel Strøbye, Bendt Rothe, Bibi Andersson, Birgitte Federspiel, Bodil Kjer, Cay Kristiansen, Ebbe Rode, Else Petersen, Finn Nielsen, Gert Bastian, Ghita Nørby, Ghita Nørby, Holger Perfort, Jarl Kulle, Jean-Philippe Lafont, Lars Lohmann, Lisbeth Movin, Pouel Kern, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Stéphane Audran, Stéphane Audran, Therese Hojgaard Christensen, Thomas Antoni, Vibeke Hastrup, Viggo Bentzon

Director: Gabriel Axel

Rating: G

This is a gorgeous Danish period drama that’s based on a famous story and book in Denmark called Lykke-Per (or Lucky Per) by Nobel Prize-winning author Henrik Pontoppidan. Per, the son of an overbearing catholic priest, leaves his family house in the country side to seek a new life in Copenhagen. His passion about engineering was at the time contrary with the Christian faith, but manages to introduce him to the capital’s elite, and a chance at social ascension. Lykke-Per and A Fortunate Man are about nature versus nurture. Per’s passion about engineering and renewable energy (back in the 1920s) is set against his need to emancipate and the pride that was instilled in him by his upbringing.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anders Hove, Benjamin Kitter, Bille August, Carsten Kressner, Claus Flygare, Eliza Rønsbæk, Elsebeth Steentoft, Esben Smed, Finn Nielsen, Hans Holtegaard, Jacob Holm, Jakob Højlev Jørgensen, Jens Albinus, Jesper Ole Feit Andersen, Johannes Nymark, Julie Christiansen, Karl Fischer, Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, Katrine Rosenthal, Laura Kjær, Margit Holzhaider, Mei Oulund, Mette Munk Plum, Mikael Holst Nørlund, Mikkel Hilgart, Morten Hauch-Fausbøll, Naja Spuur, Nicolai Dahl Hamilton, Ole Lemmeke, Paul Hüttel, Per Tofte Nielsen, Peter Hald, Peter Plaugborg, Petrine Agger, Rasmus Bjerg, Sara Viktoria, Sarah Viktoria Bjerregaard, Sophie Marie Jeppesen, Tammi Øst, Tammi Ost, Tommy Kenter

Director: Bille August

Rating: TV-14

This Danish thriller is about a man who gets into a car accident with a woman and, upon visiting her at the hospital, gets mistaken for her boyfriend by her wealthy family.

The man in question is Jonas, a family guy with two cheerful children who is also going through a text-book case of mid-life crisis. So when he realizes that Julia lost her memory and that she shows interest in him, he steps into the role of her boyfriend.

Things escalate very quickly, both as Julia starts to get some of her memory back and her actual boyfriend arrives. If you like Scandinavian noirs like Headhunters, you will love this.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Anders W. Berthelsen, Bent Mejding, Charlotte Fich, Dejan Cukic, Ditte Hansen, Ewa Fröling, Fanny Leander Bornedal, Flemming Enevold, Jannie Faurschou, Josephine Raahauge, Karin Jagd, Karsten Jansfort, Lin Kun Wu, Niels Anders Thorn, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Rebecka Hemse, Rune Klan, Thomas Chaanhing, Timm Vladimir

Director: Ole Bornedal

Rating: Not Rated

It’s slower and talkier than you’d expect from a semi-erotic film, but Ehnegard lives up to its title well enough to satisfy. It’s titillating, but in a cheeky rather than provocative way. The dialogues are lengthy, but they’re alternately witty and poetic, so despite the pace they never actually bore. Ehnegard’s real delight, however, is its beauty. Set in the old kingdom of Babenhausen, Ehnegard looks like a fairy tale come to life. The towering castles, the sprawling meadows, the twinkling forest lakes, and of course, the smartly costumed people who populate the scenery—all these and more ensure that each frame has a picturesque glow to it. And with Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen, Westworld) taking charge of an appealing cast, Ehnegard proves to be a charming watch. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alice E. Bier Zandén, Christopher Laesso, Emilie Kroyer Koppel, Jacob Ulrik Lohmann, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Paul Hüttel, Sara-Marie Maltha, Sidse Babett Knudsen

Director: Bille August

Rating: R