According to Martin Drouzy (in Carl Th. Dreyer – født Nilsson, 1982), Once Upon a Time was shown 32 times at Palads and got mixed reviews. Nonetheless, skimming the various newspaper reviews reveals that most, by far, were positive.
An enthusiastic critic in B.T. calls the film "gorgeous, vivid and atmospheric," singling out the nature scenes, while praising the experience of the film as a whole: "It is the prince’s words about Denmark in moving pictures, it is truly Drachmann’s poetry in pictures…." The acting is praised to the skies: "but Jerndorff had the greatest success. A more lovable old fairytale king was never seen in this world. He simply took the audience by storm. For many years now we have been talking about how film is one thing and theatre is something else entirely – and then the old master of the word goes and has a thundering success the first time he steps in front of the camera in his fairytale getup."
Another paper also notes the nature shots: "This film is most of all to be seen as a hymn to Denmark’s forests and lakes, fields and marshes, hills and flowers. The old fairytale was like a single high-Danish note ringing out across the land and the woods” (København, 6 Oct. 1922).
A single newspaper, Dagbladet, notes that the film falls into two parts, one of which is "far too pale." The marketplace scene is sorely missed, as are Drachmann’s lyrical lines.
By Lisbeth Richter Larsen | 3 June 2010