My Only Great Passion

Carl Th. Dreyer and professor Dale D. Drum. Photo: Peer Pedersen, P.P.F.
Professor Dale Drum and his wife Jean had seen a number of Dreyer's films with great interest. When, in connection with Dreyer's 75th birthday in 1964, they read an article about him in an American newspaper, they decided to write the first Anglophone biography about the Danish director; a filmmaker, who from the very beginning of his career had succeeded in making films that rose above mere entertainment. Dale and Jean Drum learned Danish and moved to Denmark with their three children for seven months.

Research in Denmark

Their research mainly based itself on the extensive clippings and photo collection at the Danish Film Museum, where they also had the opportunity to watch all of Dreyer's films. The couple also met with and interviewed a number of Dreyer's co-workers, among them Elith Pio, Bendt Rothe, Einar Federspiel, Henning Bendtsen, Mogens Skot-Hansen and Lise Munk, Kaj Munk's widow. Furthermore, they visited the shooting locations of many of the films, but most valuable were naturally the interviews with Dreyer himself. The eight interviews, each lasting three to four hours, mainly took place in Dreyer's office in the Copenhagen Dagmar Theatre, but one of the transcripts is from an interview, which was recorded in a car. Dreyer and Dale Drum were driving north of Copenhagen to visit the museum for modern art, Louisiana, where they were to see the museum's Dreyer exhibit!

In 1970, after Dreyer's death, the couple returned to Copenhagen for a month, meeting among others television producer Lars Graff-Nielsen, who recently had made a television program about Dreyer's project about the life of Christ. During this visit they also did research in Paris, Stockholm, Oslo and London.

The publication

Several years later, in 2000, the book ”My Only Great Passion – The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer” was published. Dale Drum had passed away in 1991, and the book was finished by Jean Drum. In 1998, Jean Drum visited Copenhagen once again in order to finalize the research for the book. We are grateful for the permission by Jean Drum to be able to present these eight unique transcripts on the Dreyer website.

The book ”My Only Great Passion – The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer” is still in publication and is also available for loan from the DFI/Library.

About the authors
Dale D. Drum spent his career teaching speech as well as film history and criticism at California State University, Long Beach. 
Jean Drum has worked as adjunct professor at Golden West College after a long career teaching in the Garden Grove Unified School District.


By Lisbeth Richter Larsen