Our Basic Survival Kit is out now 🇩🇰

All the survival knowledge you need for your first weeks in Denmark. Shopping, taxes, work or university life.
Download Now
Jun 30, 2021
 in 
Blogs

10 Danish shows and movies to watch (trailers included)

Denisa Emilia Porime
In case you would like to explore Danish film and show productions, here are some ideas to get you started. If it's either a warm Danish summer evening or just another rainy day, grab a cup of your favorite drink and hygge yourself with some Danish cinema. You might even learn something new!
VIDEO
VIDEO

If you are not a cinema enthusiast you may be wondering why you would watch Danish movies and shows. Apart from the obvious reason that you can practice your Danish vocabulary and listening skills, you might even feel closely connected to the Danish culture.

Until I actually started learning the language I had no interest whatsoever in watching anything in Danish... and I am quite a Netflix binge-watcher. Eventually I disregarded my prejudices and became curious about some shows people around me were recommending. And I was satisfied with the discovery.

Danish films seem rather different from the mainstream and they manage to creatively tackle dark, unconventional themes and topics. What I like the most, is how present the Danish culture and way of thinking is (especially in series). If you have lived in Denmark for some time, you can easily identify these cultural aspects and thus grasp the action’s context better. Otherwise, this is definitely an opportunity to get to know Danes and immerse yourself in their culture. 


But let’s start with a few facts about the Danish cinema.


Danish cinema in brief

While Danish cinema has been around ever since the end of the 19th century, the film productions were mainly targeted at Danes only. This started to slowly change after the 2nd World War. In 1960, Denmark was the first country in the world which legalized the production of pornographic films, gaining international attention (wonder why? 😅).  But one of the greatest key moments of Danish cinema happened in 1995, when four young directors (Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen) set grounds for a film manifesto: Dogme95. This consists of 10 rules (or “vows of chastity”) intended to “purify” Danish cinema with a minimalistic approach. If you are a cinema-geek, read more about the rules of Dogme95 here. Principles of this dogma can still be recognized in Danish contemporary films.


Where can you watch Danish films and shows?

There are 3 main online streaming services that are popular in Denmark, each with a selection of Danish productions.

  1. Netflix - subscription prices start from 79 kr./month and the movies and series selection is not as extensive as in other countries. It is however cheaper than other services. When it comes to Danish productions, Netflix has more movies than series. 
  2. Viaplay - starting from 119 kr./month, Viaplay has a vast selection of international and Danish movies and series, and is probably the streaming service most used by Danes. For more expensive subscriptions you can have access to Danish TV channels and sports channels. Its trial period is about 2 weeks. ViaPlay even offers the possibility to rent or buy films, with prices starting from 29 kr. However, English subtitles are not available for all the films.
  3. HBO Nordic - With a monthly price of  99 kr., you can enjoy original HBO productions and others. Unlike ViaPlay, HBO Nordic does not offer a free trial period.

Depending on which films and shows you are interested in, you can also use other streaming services, such as YouTube Movies, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and so on. 

If you don’t want to spend money on any of the above streaming services, but would still like to explore some Danish movies and shows, DR.dk offers a range of these for free. Pick what you would like to watch based on the available categories (film, series, documentaries etc). 

If you are interested in the latest releases of Danish films, you can also consider going to the cinema. Whether these are open or not, depends on the COVID-19 restrictions at that time. However, pay attention that not all screenings offer subtitles in English, so make sure you check that before you book a ticket. You can find the screening schedule of all cinemas in Denmark on kino.dk.


Finally, we reach the more interesting part of this article: what to watch?

Below, you can find a few suggestions of films and series.

5 Danish films to watch

A fortunate man (Lykke-Per, 2018) 

Directed by: Billie August

IMDb rating: 7.2/10

Genre: Drama

In Denmark available on: Netflix, Viaplay, YouTube Movies

Set in the late 19th century, Lykke Per tells the story of Peter Sidenius who leaves his father, a pious Christian from Jutland, to study engineering in Copenhagen, and thus become part of Copenhagen’s elite. His ambitious futuristic project- to harness wind power and water for energy- require however, money and connections, which Peter lacks. As such, he befriends a rich Jewish family who support him in his endeavors. Because romance knows no social status and religion, Peter falls in love with the elder daughter in the family, Jakobe. But Peter’s adventure gets more and more intense with family and romantic drama.


Another round (Druk, 2020)

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

IMDb rating: 7.8/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

In Denmark available on: Viaplay, YouTube Movies, Cinema

Winning the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, and starring Mads Mikkelsen, Druk revolves around 4 high school teachers who decide to test the theory that one can lead a better life if their blood alcohol content is 0,05. After having some success with the experiment they decide to increase the alcohol intake... because what can happen, right? This is where problems start popping up…

Druk is available on Viaplay, but unfortunately with no English subtitles.  Of course, you can try searching for the movie on other online streaming services.

Some cinemas in Denmark  are still screening the film, but not all of them offer English subtitles.


The Hunt (Jagten, 2012)

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

IMDb rating: 8,3/10

Genre: Drama

In Denmark available on: Viaplay, HBO Nordic, YouTube Movies

Mads Mikkelsen plays the role of Lucas, a divorced kindergarten teacher who tries to hold close ties with his teenage son. While he enjoys his job as a teacher, one of his pupils has a crush on him. After she is lectured about this, she feels rejected, her disappointment leading  to her making  unclear comments about her teacher’s supposed indecency. Therefore, Lucas becomes falsely accused of sexual abuse. This evolves into a mass hysteria, as the other pupils from his class also make such incriminatory allegations. Lucas goes through some hard times as a result.


A royal affair (En kongelig affære, 2012)

Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel

IMDb rating: 7,5/10

Genre: Drama, history  

In Denmark available on: Netflix, HBO Nordic, YouTube Movies, Viaplay


Set in 18th century Denmark, A royal affair portrays a secret love story between the wife of the mentally ill king Christian VII of Denmark and the royal physician.  As the king’s wife, princess Carolina Matilda of Great Britain, is unhappy in her marriage, she finds comfort in the physician’s arms, the German Johann Friedrich Struensee (played by Mads Mikkelsen), whom the king considers a friend. A series of political and  romantic drama unfolds, changing the course of the Danish society and of its leaders. 


The Celebration (Festen, 1998)

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

IMDb rating: 8,1/10

Genre: Drama, black-comedy  

In Denmark available on: Viaplay


Remember the Dogme95 manifesto? Well, Festen is  among the first films to follow the movement’s principles, such as no post production, no artificial sound editing, only hand-held cameras etc.  

Helge’s family and friends gather to celebrate his 60th birthday party, at a family run hotel. Tensions are high and a series of dark secrets and truths are unveiled, which go beyond the usual family drama. In this film, you can expect suicide, infidelity, abuse, incest and the list goes on. 


5 Danish series to watch-all on Netflix

Rita (2012-2020)

IMDb rating: 8,1/10

Genre: comedy, drama 

Seasons: 5

Average episode duration: 40 min.

Episodes in a season: 8

The series follows the life of Rita, an unconventional and rather rebellious secondary school teacher. While she is good at her profession, supporting her students and attempting to “save them from their parents”, she often doesn’t make the best decisions in her personal life. Her closest circle includes her children, a school headmaster with whom she has an affair, a rival colleague and a rather silly best friend. 

Rita is a light show, with some funny and dramatic moments, you can watch at any time. Personally, I didn’t feel too hooked on it, but I enjoy watching it every now and then. It’s great to watch, especially if you want to discover some cultural traits of Danish people and society.


Borgen (2010-2013)

IMDb rating: 8,5/10

Genre: drama, political 

Seasons: 3

Average episode duration: 58 min

Episodes in a season: 10


Literally translated as The castle, Borgen is how Danish people sometimes refer to the Christiansborg Palace, where the Danish Parliament, Supreme Court and Prime Minister's office are found. 

The plot presents how the minor-centrist politician, Brigitte Nyborg, becomes Denmark’s first female prime-minister. Her character is supposedly based on Denmark’s real first female prime-minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. 

For now, the show has just 3 seasons, with the latest season having aired in 2013. However, there is good news for the show’s fans, as the 4th season was announced to come out in 2022.

As I have heard how cool this show is (from both Danes and other internationals) it is definitely in the top of my watch list.

  

Dicte (2013-2016)

IMDb rating: 7,2/10

Genre: drama, crime 

Seasons: 3

Average episode duration: 43 min

Episodes in a season: 10


Dicte is the name of a crime reporter who never gives up on a good story. After going through a divorce, she moves back to her hometown, Aarhus, where she often gets into trouble by over-pursuing crime stories with stubbornness, but also dedication.

Since the action happens in Aarhus, the 2nd largest city in Denmark, you might recognize some places in the city, especially if you live here or have visited. Although it’s a crime series, it seems quite light and down to earth. It’s also a show where you can identify some characteristics of the Danish culture. 


The Rain (2018-2020)

IMDb rating: 6,3/10

Genre: drama, thriller, sci-fi 

Seasons: 3

Average episode duration: 43 min

Episodes in a season: 6-8


The Rain is set in post-apocalyptic Denmark, where the population is hit by a virus and where people now fight for survival and safety. The action centers around two siblings who take off in a journey to find their father, one of the scientists believed to have created the virus.  

It seems a bit eerie that the show came out in 2018, while not even 2 years later COVID-19 hit us all. Yet even with this in mind, it’s still interesting to watch, sometimes making you contemplate what could have been and thus somehow inspiring you to be grateful that the pandemic situation in the real world is not worse. 

While it's IMDb score is not that high, I personally really enjoyed the storyline and the show kept me hooked. If you want to improve your Danish, I suggest watching it with Danish subtitles, as the dialogue is not that difficult or at least not as difficult as in other productions.    


Equinox (2020)

IMDb rating: 6,1/10

Genre: drama, mystery, fantasy 

Seasons: 1

Average episode duration: 43 min

Episodes: 6


If you dig mysterious ad gloomy shows then consider this one; it is so mysterious that it will leave you with a lot of unanswered questions at the end 😅. Even though Equinox was not that well received by the public, I found it interesting, although I mostly watched it because of the Danish dialogue.   

The plot revolves around Astrid, who investigates the unexplainable and mysterious disappearance of her sister and her school peers, which happened 20 years before, when Astrid was just a young girl. 


All in all, these were just a few suggestions of Danish productions. Even if you are not interested in improving your Danish skills, many Danish movies are worth watching simply due to the storyline, style and the themes tackled, so give them a try. 


Also, check out IMDb for more movie ideas.


Happy watching! 


Source:
Image source:
Denisa Emilia Porime
🇷🇴
My journey in Denmark started in 2016 and it doesn't seem like it will end soon. Even though I came across certain obstacles (who doesn't ?) I began to feel at home here.
All posts from author
Student Survival Guide is a non-profit project, started by university students in Denmark. We want to help other students, who struggle with things we've already been through and gained knowledge about. If you want to support us, consider following our Facebook page or YouTube channel. Leave a comment or like, so we can see that our work is paying off.
Thank you,