Film & Animation A Writer Named Tove | CPH:DOX 2020
cph:dox & ekko film
Sami Saif — Denmark — 2020 — 38 min A mosaic portrait of the Danish poet and writer Tove Ditlevsen. The self-confident and outspoken author, and the fragile woman behind the books.
An audio collage of interviews and poetry readings is woven together with some lovely animations and takes a look at how life and literature came together for Tove Ditlevsen.
The film is a portrait told by Tove Ditlevsen herself. Her own poems, letterbox responses and novels tell the story.
It is with life at stake that writing comes about, and with a life lived as the basic element of literature itself. We meet both the white-wine-drinking, outspoken Tove, and the frail, lonely soul, who defines the woman who has gifted us with so many words and feelings – from ‘Early Spring’(Det Tidlige Forår) and well into adulthood. She has always been there, but keeps on being rediscovered from fresh angles with each new generation of readers.
Tove lived a sort of double life. Whilst Tove Ditlevsen the human was falling apart, Tove Ditlevsen the writer would sit in ”The Oval Room” to analyse and describe her life, in full serenity. It is obvious to ask whether Tove actually lived her life to live it, or to write about it.
"I am a wicked human being. A miserable human being. A thoroughly depraved human being. I am sleepless as an owl, ugly as a witch, and white wine flows in my veins instead of blood. Besides, I am about to kill myself." . This is how it sounded from Tove Ditlevsen in the wake of the break-up with her last husband in 1973.
The animations are mostly linked to a taped interview with the elder Tove Ditlevsen, who, typically for the 70s, enjoys a lot of wine and many cigarettes. The interview is carried by bram-free open-heartedness and a poet who is asked to write her own obituary.
It is interesting retrospectively to hear a younger Tove Ditlevsen - daughter of an absolutely working class family from Vesterbro - speaking with high Danish accent, which is somewhere between Karen Blixen and Bodil Kjer.
But - as the movie reveals - at the age of 22, she married the 30 year elder conservative magazine editor Viggo F. Møller.
"There were also child lockers in the street of childhood," Tove Ditlevsen says. The mood is low but comfortable and there is quite a gifted relaxation in the interrogation of the poet with the red wine blue teeth.
We get the stories of her many men - about the four husbands as well as the loose, random men on her way. We get the fatal story of how she cheated on her second husband Ebbe Munk with Carl T. Ryberg. But when she forgot her diary, the one-off gag was not without consequences for her.
'A Writer Named Tove' is not just a plaque or tribute. It is also a testimony about her violent marriage to Victor Andreasen, the man who wanted to make her a nice lady - but more on the studded floors with diplomats than in the poetry reading Café with cheap wine.
Tove existentially was not for retainers. She went in and out of psychiatric wards. But she retained the self irony while, as admitted, she was the Family Journal's advisory letterbox editor for normal people's everyday problems. Not all of her answers endured repetition.
Death is now her neighbor, either as a black triangle up the ground or the reaper.
The story is told as a kaleidoscope without chronology, a favorable mixture of mad humor, horror and madness with the tragic tone.
The movie ends with Tove's funeral, where everything that could go and crawl was present. Except for the Danish Academy and its secretary who apparently found her too popular.