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Film / Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

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I'm Hans Christian Andersen!

"Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen.
This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of tales."
Opening credits

Hans Christian Andersen is a 1952 musical film loosely based on the life of, yes, Hans Christian Andersen, directed by Charles Vidor and starring Danny Kaye in the title role along with Farley Granger, Zizi Jeanmaire, and songs by Frank Loesser. As the Opening Scroll states above, the takes many liberties with Andersen's story and crafts its own version of how he became the famed writer he is now.

In Odense, Denmark in the 1830s, Andersen — who's constantly in trouble for telling fanciful (yet educational) stories to the village children — is forced to leave and takes his apprentice to Copenhagen, where he falls in love with a ballerina.

Tropes used:

  • Artistic License – History: Stated in the opening credits, the movie is an entirely fictionalized version of Andersen's life.
  • Artistic License – Geography: In "Wonderful Copenhagen" Andersen recounts how he sailed the Skagerak and the Kattegat to get to Copenhagen from Odense. The Skagerak is the sea between Norway and Denmark, so this is very much the scenic route. In Real Life Andersen took the direct mail coach from Odense to Copenhagen.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The schoolmaster is a male example, who initially despises Hans. At the film's end, where Andersen has become a popular writer, the schoolmaster has warmed up to him and even has a favorite story of his.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Hans falls in love with a ballerina, who happens to already be married. She acts kindly to him, but shows no signs of reciprocating his feelings and he ends up leaving, heartbroken.
  • Fantasy Sequence: Two of the movie's musical segments, "No Two People" and the "Little Mermaid" ballet, are fantasy scenes imagined by Hans.
  • Location Song: "Wonderful Copenhagen".
  • Love at First Sight: Hans falls for the ballerina as soon as he sees her dancing.
  • Manchild: Hans can be seen as one, much more interesting in spinning stories than being a cobbler, especially when his adopted apprentice seems like much more the adult.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: The song "The Inch Worm" is the Trope Namer.
    Inchworm, Inchworm,
    Measuring the Marigolds,
    Seems to me you'd stop and see,
    How beautiful they are.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: The extended "Little Mermaid" ballet sequence is shown only through Hans' imagination, hearing the music while locked in the prop room. It's entirely possible what we see is how the ballet really goes on.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Niels and Doro seem to have this type of relationship, but mainly for the staff. Hans believes they're all "slap-slap," without the "kiss."
  • With Us or Against Us: After Hans causes the entire school to be truant again, the schoolmaster makes this proposition to the mayor and the village - either Hans Christian Andersen goes or he does. The town ultimately has no choice but to side with the schoolmaster.

Alternative Title(s): Hans Christian Andersen