The Hands

(Alexander Christian, DK, 1917)

Riding back from town one night on an important errand, Farmer Bruhn finds his farm, Strandgaarden, engulfed in flames. Thankfully, his daughter Astrid detected the fire from her bedroom in time to save all people and livestock before the whole place burns to the ground. Bruhn’s nearest neighbour and long-time friend, landowner Moe – his son, Holger, an attorney, and Astrid are childhood friends – arrives at the fire. He offers a temporary home at Moestrup for Bruhn, Astrid and their housekeeper, Mrs Eva Lau, who is like a maternal, older friend to the young woman. Naturally, her stay at the neighbouring farm throws Astrid together with Holder. They roam the countryside from morning to night. Not a single word of love has been uttered between them, but they both feel destined for one another. Holger is gearing up to propose any day now and there is no doubt what Astrid’s answer will be. Then something happens that most definitively changes Astrid’s mind. They are playing a game of tag and Astrid hides in some bushes. In a ditch by the road nearby, two resting farmhands are discussing the many fires in the area recently, including the one at Strandgaarden, and they seem to agree that farmer Bruhn set the fire himself. When she hears this, all joy is drained from young Astrid’s life and Holger only makes matters worse when he blurts out the marriage proposal he has been mulling over for so long.

A commission is appointed to investigate the recent wave of fires and Holger Moe is asked to serve on it. The conversation she overheard has sown the seed of suspicion in Astrid’s mind about her father and a sequence of small clues and coincidences stoke her doubt. The commission soon comes to the area and farmer Bruhn, too, is called in for questioning. Astrid anxiously watches as her father leaves to be questioned in town and, truth be told, she is hardly surprised when Holger returns a few hours later to tell her that her father has been arrested. Several facts spoke against him so decisively that the judge thought it best to detain him.

When Mrs Eva learns that her long-time patron has been charged with arson, her instincts tell her that only true distress could have moved him to commit such a terrible crime and, knowing how deeply she is indebted to him, she turns herself in to the authorities the next morning, claiming that she set the fire at Strandgaarden. The judge almost falls off his chair in surprise, but he has no choice but to take her determined claim at face value and release farmer Bruhn. That evening Holger goes for a stroll and notices two shady characters carrying a bag of swag to a remote hut. He tails them and eavesdrops as they start arguing about how to split the loot, when one of them makes a remark that startles Holger. The next day he has them both arrested. One of the thieves, a farmhand at Strandgaarden, confesses that he set the farm on fire – in anger at a scolding he got from farmer Bruhn. The finger of suspicion now lifts from both Mrs Eva and farmer Bruhn, and nothing now stands in the way of Astrid saying yes to Holger.

Production company Nordisk Films Kompagni
Distributor  Fotorama
Release date and place 17.9. 1917 / Panoptikon

Directed by

Alexander Christian  Director 


Carl Th. Dreyer  Screenwriter
Carl Muusmann Screenwriter

Cinematography by

H.F. Rimmen Camera Operator


Carl Lauritzen Proprietor Bruhn
Helen Gammeltoft Astrid, Bruhn's daughter
Henny Lauritzen Mrs. Eva Lau, Housekeeper at Bruhn's
Alfred Osmund Landowner Moe
Arne Weel Holger Moe, cand. jur, the landowner's son
Philip Bech The Judge
Franz Skondrup Niels, Groom at "Strandgaard"

Alexander Christian



Other titles 
Herregaards-Mysteriet (DK - original title)
Hænderne (DK - alternative title) 
Die Hände (DE)
Les mains (FR)


973 metres

Technical data 
35 mm - 1,33:1 - b/w - mute