Ditte, Child of Man (Danish: Ditte Menneskebarn) is a 1946 socio-realistic Danish drama directed by Bjarne Henning-Jensen based on the novel by Martin Andersen Nexø. The film stars Tove Maës in the tragic story of an impoverished young girl who becomes the victim of harsh social conditions. The film has been noted as the first example of the more realistic and serious Danish film in the post-World War II era.[1] Ditte, Child of Man is one of the ten films listed in Denmark's cultural canon by the Danish Ministry of Culture.[2]

Ditte Menneskebarn
Front cover of the Danish DVD for
Ditte Menneskebarn
Directed byBjarne Henning-Jensen
Jon Iversen
Written byBjarne Henning-Jensen
Martin Andersen Nexø (novel)
Produced byErik Balling
StarringTove Maës
CinematographyVerner Jensen
Edited byEdla Hansen
Music byHerman D. Koppel
Poul Schierbeck
Distributed byNordisk Film
Release date
  • 20 December 1946 (1946-12-20)
Running time
104 min.



Ditte (Tove Maës), born illegitimately, is deserted as a young girl by her alcoholic mother Sørine (Karen Lykkehus). She moves in with her grandparents Maren (Karen Poulsen) and Søren Mand (Rasmus Ottesen). But after Søren dies, it is Ditte who becomes the old woman's only support. It is the small girl's deepest sorrow that she has no father, so she is pleased when she hears that Lars Peter (Edwin Tiemroth) will marry her mother and they will all live together. However, it is Ditte who becomes like a mother to Lars Peter's three small children. Their poverty is so oppressive, it drives Ditte's mother to kill Maren, and Sørine is sent away to prison. Ditte, despite her young age, must assume all of the household's responsibilities. As time passes, a warm relationship develops between Ditte and Lars Peter. One day, Lars Peter's brother Johannes (Ebbe Rode) appears. Johannes is a poor knife and scissors sharpener who informs them of his big business schemes, however, his schemes bring nothing but disappointment. Lars moves away and Ditte must find herself a job. Ditte takes a job as a servant on a rural farm. The farm owner's weak-willed son Karl (Preben Neergard), who is completely controlled by his mother (Maria Garland), falls in love with Ditte and they develop a happy romance. However, when Ditte becomes pregnant, Karl does nothing while his mother forces Ditte to leave the farm. Deeply distraught, Ditte searches after Lars Peter, the only parental figure who ever showed her kindness and understanding. Ditte discovers her mother has been paroled from prison and Ditte begins a new life—forgiving and caring for her mother—at the same time that she becomes the mother of her own illegitimate child.





Danish film historian Ib Monty wrote that Ditte, Child of Man, in its harsh portrayal of social conditions was the first example of the realistic serious Danish film. It followed the growing trend in contemporary European cinema during the post-war period after World War II. Monty wrote that the film "was a tremendous success in Denmark and it also won a certain international recognition."[1] However, film reviewers in the United States (where the movie was seen in an edited version which removed any nudity) dismissed the movie as being too broad and melodramatic.[3] Maes in a later interview replied that people there hadn't yet been confronted with poverty in such a realistic portrayal.[4]


  1. ^ a b Monty, Ib "Astrid Henning-Jensen and Bjarne - Films as directors". Ditte Menneskebarn. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  2. ^ Christian Monggaard, Ukuelig Optimist Archived December 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Kultur Kanon, Kultur Ministeriet retrieved 22-06-2010.
  3. ^ Wollstein, Hans J. "Allmovie". Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  4. ^ "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Tove Maës".