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March 15, 2012 | Theatre,

Check out these films, books and music related to THE ANDERSEN PROJECT

By Corrie Glanville


Le Confessionnal (1995)

In this early work written and directed by Robert Lepage, teenage Rachel, who finds herself alone and pregnant in 1950s’ Quebec, reveals her guilt to a young priest in confession. Her story is set against the backdrop of Alfred Hitchcock’s filming of his 1952 movie I Confess until it jumps ahead to 1989 when Pierre Lamontagne returns to Quebec for his father’s funeral and meets his adopted brother, Marc, who has begun to search for his true identity.


Possible Worlds (2000)

Directed by Lepage and starring the marvelous Tilda Swinton, this sci-fi infused thriller centers on George (Tom McCamus), a man who is strangely aware of the parallel worlds in which he exists, experiencing several alternate lives at the same time. When his wife, played by Swinton, is murdered in one life, he must search for her killer while he is thrown from one life to another.  


The Far Side of the Moon (2003)

Based on his play of same name, Lepage wrote, directed and starred as a forty-something Philippe, a perpetual graduate of Philosophy of Science who is forced to rebuild the relationship with his younger gay brother after the death of their mother.Canada’s official nomination for the 2003 Foreign Language Academy Award, the Village Voice proclaimed that “Lepage spins a rich, moving film that acknowledges humanity’s power to break out of Earth’s daily gravity; in the process, he leaves audiences floating.” Watch the official trailer here.



The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen edited by Maria Tatar (2007)

Annotated by one of America’s leading folklore scholars,this gorgeous illustrated collection isn’t merely for children; with over 150 rare images by artists such as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, this edition explores the vast social and cultural dimensions of Andersen’s 19th century Europe and paints a compelling portrait of a storyteller whose tales still move and fascinate us today.  

Hans Christian Andersen: A New Life by Jens Andersen (2006)

Considered the definitive biography by Danish scholar Jens Andersen, this meticulously researched book uncovers more about the famed storyteller than ever before. While most know him as writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen was also a journalist with a keen interest in science, an adult novelist, and an expert paper cut-out artist. He was also plagues by an ambivalent sexuality and intense hypochondria. And he didn’t particularly like children. According to Publisher’s Weekly, readers “will be caught up in this smoothly translated, accessible evaluation of a budding genius placed in the context of his time.”

The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf by Kathryn Davis (1993)

Vaguely inspired by Andersen’s tale of the girl who trod on a loaf so as not to spoil her pretty shoes, Davis’ novel weaves a mystery involving Helle, an elderly Danish composer of operas and Frances, a young American single mother. When Helle dies, she leaves Frances the legacy of her unfinished opera and the task of its completion. Rummaging through what Helle has left behind, Frances comes to grips with her own identity as she uncovers the secrets of the composer’s life.


The Little Match Passion by David Lang (2007)

Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, David Lang’s composition for voices and percussion was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Setting Hans Christian Andersen’s fable in the format of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Lang elevates the suffering of the little match girl with poignant, evocative music. Click here to watch a short performance clip.

Lepage’s The Nightingale & Other Short Fables

Performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2011 with music by Stravinsky, Lepage constructed an above ground pool and borrowed from Vietnamese water puppetry to tell Andersen’s haunting story of a Chinese Emperor and the little bird who saves his life. The Wall Street Journal called it “a spellbinding piece of theatre.”


Lepage’s The Ring cycle at the Met

For three years Lepage and his team have been working on Wagner’s Ring cycle for the Metropolitan Opera, which will be completed this spring. For a look at this visionary production,you can watch a brief clip here of Lepage talking about his process.

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