The Norwegian capital was the venue for the first exhibition of moving images in Scandinavia: on 6 April 1896 Max and Emil Skladanowsky’s Bioscope films were screened at the Variété Club in Kristiana (now Oslo). In the following few years, exhibitions of (mostly foreign) films took place in music halls and fairs, and in 1904 Norway’s first permanent cinema was established. In 1905, Norway gained independence from Sweden, and the first locally made films (including Kong Haakon VII ankommer Christiania/The Arrival of King Haakon VII in Kristiania) were records of the coronation of the new king. The early fiction film Fiskerlivets farer: et drama på havet/The Perils of a Fisherman (Julius Jaenzon) dates to around 1907; but domestic film production, with seventeen features made between 1906 and 1919, was small in scale. At the same time, by the mid 1910s Norway had established a unique (and continuing) system of municipal film exhibition, in which cinemas are owned and run by local authorities. Notwithstanding the popularity of rural melodramas such as Fante-Anne/Anne, the Tramp (Rasmus Brelstein, 1920), domestic production levels remained low until the late 1930s, a period that saw an upturn regarded by some as a golden age for Norwegian cinema. During World War II, the film industry was run by the Nazi occupying forces, and films—mostly light comedies and thrillers—continued to be made throughout the war. In the immediate postwar years, cinema attendances rose sharply, and occupation dramas like Kampen om tungtvannet/The Battle for Heavy Water (Titus Vibe-Muller, 1948) catered to audiences’ desire to see films about the war years. In 1948 the studio Norsk Film A/S, founded in 1935, became a joint state/municipal venture, making film production, as well as exhibition, a public and national project. This coincided with a rise in feature film output, with comedies proving especially popular during the 1950s and 1960s. ...
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