Aside from (arguably) the Brothers Grimm, there isn’t a better-known author of fairy tales than Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish author and poet’s stories have been adapted into numerous forms of entertainment such as plays, music, ballet, and of course, films. Some have been family-friendly, others have skewed towards an older crowd, occasionally they’ll keep the time period, while different adaptations have been entirely modern updates. No matter what route may have been chosen that so many spin-off works exist speak to the universal themes at the heart of all of Andersen’s writings, mainly though, his fairy tales.
The newest movie adaptation to be based on an Andersen fairy tale is The Sunken Convent. A short escapade into a dark, grotesque world that is virtually dialogue-free, this short sinks or swims by its visual prowess. It must be reassuring to director Michael Panduro and cinematographer Snorre Ruhe that this bold decision pays off, as without dialogue this delivers a strong, interesting character, foreboding atmosphere with intense lighting, and one heck of an ending.
“…the universal themes at the heart of all of Andersen’s writings.”
Claus Flygare plays the lead role of Ridderen. He eats alone, walks to work alone, does some odd surgery at home, and walks to the beach alone. Absolutely every moment of empathy or disgust the audience is designated to feel flows through Flygare’s natural charisma and commanding screen presence. His expressive face conveys so much with just a glance; it is a brilliant bit of casting. The only two other actors are Susann Cornelius and Camilla Wyke, as Naboen and Nonnen respectively. Each of them has three to five minutes of screentime, but they make a strong and memorable impression in that brief time limit.
The Sunken Convent may only last fifteen minutes, but it is profound, intense, and mesmerizing in a way that some feature-length movies could only ever hope to achieve. Flygare is a great choice for the lead, as he is in virtually every scene, and the amazing cinematography pushes the isolation and peculiarities of the story into a visual feast.
The Sunken Convent (2016) Directed by Michael Panduro. Written by Michael Panduro. Starring Claus Flygare, Susann Cornelius, Camilla Wikke.