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Roos, Jörgen

ROOS, Jörgen

Nationality: Danish. Born: Gilleleje, Denmark, 14 August 1922. Family: Married Naomi Silberstein, 1957. Career: Cameraman, 1939–47; founder, Copenhagen film club, with painter Albert Mertz; scriptwriter, director, and cameraman on documentaries, from 1947; co-founder, Association of Danish Film Directors, 1956. Awards: Silver Bear, Berlin Festival, for Knud, 1966. Died: 13 September 1998, in Denmark.

Films as Director:

(documentaries, unless indicated)


Flugten (The Flight) (co-d with Albert Mertz)


Kaerlighed paa Rullesköjter (co-d with Mertz); Hjertetyven (Thief of Hearts) (co-d with Mertz)


Richard Mortensens bevaegelige Maleri; Historien om en Mand (Story of a Man) (co-d with Mertz) (unfinished)


Paa Besög hos Kong Tingeling (co-d with Mertz); Goddag Dyr! (co-d with Mertz); Isen brydes (co-d); Johannes V. Jensen; Opus 1; Reflexfilm




Paris på to måder; Jean Cocteau; Tristan Tzara, dadaismens fader; Det definitive afslag på anmodningen om et kys (co-d)


Spiste horisonter (co-d); Johannes Jörgensen i Assisi; Shakespeare og Kronborg (Hamlet's Castle)


Historien om et slot, J. F. Willumsen


Den strömlinjede gris; Slum; Feriebörn


Lyset i natten; Spaedbarnet; The Newborn (Goddag börn); Skyldig—ikke skyldig


Kalkmalerier; Inge bliver voksen; Avisen; Martin Andersen Nexos sidste rejse; Johannes Jörgensen i Svendborg


Mit livs eventyr (My Life Story)




Ellehammer; Johannes Larsen


Magie du diamant (Magic of the Diamond); 6-dageslöbet (The Six Days) (feature)


Friluft (Pure Air)


En by ved navn Köbenhaven (A City Called Copenhagen); Danish Design; Staphylokok-faren


Föroyar Faeröerne; Hamburg


Vi haenger i en tråd






Carl Th. Dreyer; Knud; Sisimiut


En fangerfamilie i Thuledistriktet; 17 minutter Grönland; Grönlandske dialektoptagelser og trommedanse fra Thuledistriktet; Et år med Henry


Ultima Thule


Det er tilladt at vaere åndssvag


Kaláliuvit (Er du grönlaender)


Andersens hemmelighed


Huse til mennesker; Udflytterne; To maend i ödemarken; Ulrik fortaeller en historie


I den store pyramide; J. Th. Arnfred


Andersen hos fotografen


14 dage i jernalderen; Monarki og demokrati


Carl Nielsen 1865–1931


Nuuk 250 år


Slaedepatruljen Sirius; Grönland


Knud Rasmussens mindeekspedition til Kap Seddon


Lille Cirkus; De unge gamle


Harald Sæverud—1 en alder af 88 år


Chr. IV—Tegselver icke mig


Den levende virkelighed; Victor Brockdorff—en portrætskitse

Other Film:


Er i bange (Are You Afraid) (Carlsen) (ph)


On ROOS: articles—

Variety (New York), 24 April 1974.

Variety (New York), 6 May 1981.

Hamon, V., "Chasseur de secret," in Bref (Paris), no. 29, Summer 1996.

Brinch, Sara, "Katalog mellom stive permer," in Z, no. 67, 1999.

* * *

Jörgen Roos is the unrivalled master of the Danish documentary film, having worked for more than forty years in this field. He has won international recognition and has received prizes at international short film festivals. Only once has he tried to direct a feature film.

Roos started out as a cameraman, taught by his brother, Karl Roos, and Theodor Christensen, the pioneer of the documentary film in Denmark. Karl Roos and Theodor Christensen were both active filmmakers, and also eminent film theoreticians. Christensen was influenced by the British documentary movement and considered himself a committed documentary filmmaker. Jörgen Roos was inspired by those two and he acquired a wide knowledge of the theory and the history of cinema. After having worked as a cameraman, he made his first experimental film in 1942 with the painter Albert Mertz, and this pair created the most interesting and original Danish avant-garde films of the 1940s. Since 1952 Roos has made numerous documentaries for governmental institutions and private companies. Besides these commissioned films he has worked on projects of his own, and in recent years he has had his own production company.

To the commissioned film Roos has brought a fresh and unconventional approach, and his way of solving the official tasks is often witty, surprising, and keen. His films are always one-man projects. He writes his own scripts, directs, and is often cameraman. And he is always the editor, because it is in the cutting room that he gives his films their definitive and personal form. Roos is superior in the short form: his editing is rhythmical, and his films have a fascinating, fast-moving drive. He likes to tease, to find unusual points of view, and he has an eye for the curious. His brilliant technique, however, can lead him into the superficial.

In 1955 Roos made one of his best films, Mit livs eventyr, about Hans Andersen. In this film he brought the iconographic technique to perfection, and he used it in later films. One of his most popular and widely known films is A City Called Copenhagen, from 1960, an untraditional and ironic tourist film. Roos was asked to make similar city portraits of Hamburg and Oslo, and has portrayed Danish personalities such as Nobel laureate Johannes V. Jensen, Carl Th. Dreyer, Greenland explorer Knud Rasmussen, and composer Carl Nielsen. In his later years Roos explored his special interest in Greenland. He lost his heart to this exceptional country and he explored both the old and the new Greenland in many films. In these later films, Roos replaced the cool, detached view characteristic of his earlier films with a more engaged view. His films about Greenland highlighted his deep-felt commitment to the land which he, more than anyone else, has brought to the screen.

—Ib Monty

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