Reporter in the frame

Carl Th. Dreyer's appearence in the film report "Dr. Cook's Arrival", 1909. Framegrab: DFI.
In a film report Dr. Cook's Arrival from 1909 a young journalist suddenly appears in the frame, right on the spot enthusiastically taking notes. This short take is Carl Th. Dreyer's screen appearence. No one, and least himself, could know that film would become his great passion.

Suddenly he appears in the picture, the young reporter, while our eyes are busy trying to find the person whom it’s all about – Dr. Frederic Cook. Cook greets the prominent guests boarding the ship, while they move back and forth in front of the cinematographer. A woman looks directly into the camera, gentlemen dressed in uniforms and suits raise their hats slightly, shake hands, and salute each other. Most of them have their backs turned towards the camera. Then he pops in, to the left side of the frame – the little reporter with a cap on his head, remarkably different from the other men’s top hats and caps. He immediately takes possession of half of the frame space. He watches ‘the event’ and writes down his impressions in a small notebook. It only lasts few seconds, then the camera moves on to follow Cook and his whereabouts.

"Is he aware of the film camera and himself being in the picture? Presumably not!"

- Lisbeth Richter Larsen

It is September 5, 1909. Dr. Cook arrives at the harbour in Copenhagen after his grand expedition to the North Pole. Cook and his two companions were gone from Annoatok, a small settlement in the North of Greenland, for 14 months, and their whereabouts in that period is a matter of intense controversy. He and some members of the expedition are greeted by the crowds in Copenhagen.

At this time the 20-year old Carl Th. Dreyer is in the very beginning of his career as a journalist. He is presumably sent out by the newspaper Berlingske Tidende reporting with great enthusiasm. He is on the spot, observing the happening at point blank from his ‘low angle shot’ position. Is he aware of the film camera and himself being in the picture? Presumably not! He has probably not yet even thought of himself in connection with film at this point in his young life. Funny that his employer to be, Nordisk Films Kompagni, accidentally(?), at this early point happens to catch the master of cinema to be on camera himself.

The film report that runs for 6 minutes an 18 seconds survives in a version where the cuts are a bit out of chronology. Dreyer's appearence on the reel lasts 24 seconds, from 2:36-3:00.

Watch the full version in the Danish Filmography.

By Lisbeth Richter Larsen | 26. May