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Hilarious musical on sloppy DVD
on 21 August 2003
Song of Norway is one of the most campy, unintentionally funny movies ever made, not at least from a Norwegian and Danish point of view. It sort of describes the life of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and his Danish cousin & wife, Nina Hagerup. The story only slightly resembles the real one, and there are no real attempt at making it into a fairy tale, like the Danny Kaye movie musical about Hans Christian Andresen. (That movie is so cute, even though it has nothing to do with the life of its subject!)
Song of Norway was presented during WW2 on Broadway as an operetta, and was a big hit. The 1970 movie version doesn't use the Broadway book at all, but lays out a big passionate love triange that never was. There's a Swedish lady involved here, as the snake in the grass. Possibly just to cover all of Scandinavia at once.
And they all sing (quite well, most of them!) and dance into the fjords and up and down the mountains of Norway, around the Danish countryside, into the famous Copenhagen Tivoli and even down to Rome! In one scene I think we see every Norwegian church built before 1900! Even lambs and sheep are dancing, and there is a really bad animated sequence with Trolls resembling monsters in The Flintstones. Famous people portrayed includes Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Franz Liszt, the Danish composer Gade and the Norwegian Nobel Prize Winner Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (played by the late Sir Harry Secombe). Norwegian actor Toralv Maurstad (Grieg) does his best in impossible surroundings. Florence Henderson (Nina) has obviously been instructed to become the next Julie Andrews and sings happily whenever there is a child or a field or a mountain to climb. And there are lots and lots of nature to climb here! (Julie Andrews must have had her greatest laugh ever watching this! I hope she did watch it!) Edward G. Robinson makes a cute cameo.
The music is wonderful, of course!
The film is hilarious all through (but a bit slow in the end, when it suddenly tries to be serious), - i. e. for people who know how to enjoy a movie where everything has gone completely wrong!
So I jumped from joy discovering that the strange item was available on DVD. Norwegian TV stations never run this film! You see, my old video copy, bought in London a few years ago, was terrible!
And so is the DVD!!! In fact, it is the bad copy on the VHS transferred to DVD without any improvement at all! I didn't know a DVD could look this awful!
The picture quality is so blurry that it is almost impossible to read the opening credits! The movie was made in Super Panavision 70, and looked fantastic back in 1970! From this DVD you might believe it is a bad, early attempt at colour televison! It is also shorter than the theatrical release, with some musical numbers from the old soundtrack LP missing, but it claims to have the original running time! Even the sound is bad! And there are absolutely no extras!
So we perverted ones who like to have a good laugh at silly movies like this will have to wait for something better. This is a low price DVD. One should be payed to buy it!
My thanks to Amazon. however, for the quick delivery and great service! It's not your fault that Prism Leisure/Fremantle Media has put this out there!