As actors and directors are the usual focus of our spotlights, it’s time to spin the bottle on the exquisite Danish screenwriter, Anders Thomas Jensen. With more 50 scripts and two Oscar statuettes under his belt, he is definitely worth your attention and might remind you that what makes a good story is a brilliant screenwriter.
Jensen wrote his first short film script when he was still in high school. He won a local film competition and established himself as an aspiring writer in the neighbourhood. Even though his talent should seem undeniable, he was rejected twice to the Danish Film School, which is the birthplace of great directors as Lars Von Trier and Susanne Bier. He attended university instead where he majored in rhetoric, while finishing several short film scripts that were made into quite successful films. Fortunately Jensen didn’t miss his opportunity to meet the equally talented Bier, who recently directed the TV series The Night Manager, because he later wrote the screenplays of her two films After the Wedding and In a Better World, which both made it to the Oscars. In fact, In a Better World won for best foreign film in 2011. Several of Jensen’s films were nominated at the Academy Awards and he won best short film in 1999 for his extraordinary storytelling in Election Night. Of all his films it is one that is especially worth seeing. The film is about an idealist, yet absent-minded voter who has to endure continuous waves of racist cab drivers and their offensive remarks, and is considered one of the greatest works in Danish short film Cinema.
Besides being appreciated in the world of screenwriting, Jensen occasionally sits in the director’s chair and makes his own films. His comedy film Flickering Lights from 2000 about Four small-time gangsters was his major breakthrough in Danish cinema and is still 17 years later appearing on Danish television at least once year. The film is entirely inappropriate and hilarious, which can be a difficult balance but might as well be called Jensen’s specialty. He makes fun of Danish tradition by small-time gangsters trying to fit into society. The dialogue is filled with iconic dialogues that also make it one of Jensen’s definite must-sees.
Jensen has without a doubt contributed in the making of some of best films in Danish cinema and is to amongst Europe’s most talented screenwriters. From his brutal comedies to his emotionally complicated dramas, he can imagine stories, dialogues and characters before they make the big screen, which is truly creativity at it’s best. His collaboration with Bier was considered one of the most productive and meaningful relationships in Danish film for many decades and only time will tell where his inspiration and collaborations takes his writing next. So next time, you’re in the mood for European cinema, let Jensen convince you with his powerful storytelling and wicked sense of humour.