Eskild Fors thought he’d make a “funny, yet wildly inaccurate, history lesson” to mark the 200-year anniversary of Norway’s independence from Denmark. Along with his friend Anders Øvergaard, he produced a short film that purported to explain both the origins of Norway’s constitution and the “incomprehensible language” that is Danish.
Fors put his video on YouTube in May 2014 and it has since racked up a respectable 180,000 views. But things really took off over the past week, when a version that Fors said was “stolen and edited” was posted by a Danish Facebook user. That version has been viewed well over one million times since it was posted on August 18th.
Fors told The Local that he had mixed emotions about the video’s resurgent popularity.
“First and foremost, we’re really happy that the film is so popular and that the Danes enjoy it so much. But at the same time, we are a little frustrated that someone has stolen our video and removed an essential part of it as well as the end credits,” he said.
The version floating around on Facebook does not include actor Sebastian Legaard, who plays the Dane, coming out from behind the camera to refute Fors’s claim that the Danes still “dream back to the golden age when they still spoke Norwegian”.
See also: Not even the Danes can understand Danish
Fors said that without that ending, he fears some Danes might take offence.
“Anders and I both love Denmark and we’ve been there many times. I was a little nervous about offending the Danes, even though it was only meant as a light-hearted comedy,” he said.
It seems Fors need not have worried. The Danes loved his video, even the inferior version that surfaced more than a year after the original.
When asked if Norwegians really view Danish as “a weird and incomprehensible language”, Fors said that most of his countrymen think of it as “just a slurry Norwegian”.
“Whenever we’re in Denmark we try to speak to the Danes in Norwegian, and a lot of times they don’t understand us even though we can understand them. But as soon as we start deliberately slurring our Norwegian, the Danes can suddenly understand us better,” he explained.
As to the drinking displayed in the film, Fors did concede that Norwegians typically view Denmark as a beer-happy nation.
“I definitely think the Danish people have more of a drinking culture than in Norway. We’re a little more similar to Sweden in that we don’t drink much during the week and then drink way too much on the weekend. In Denmark, it’s more normal to drink a beer with your weekday lunch,” he said.
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Fors and Øvergaard are no strangers to viral hits. The two friends and professional filmmakers released a tongue-in-cheek ‘review’ of the iPad 2 back in 2011 that has nearly six million views:
The duo are also not the first Norwegians to strike comedy gold by making fun of Danish. Fors said he was definitely inspired by a popular clip from the Norwegian sketch comedy programme ‘Uti Vår Hage’ that portrays Danish as nothing more than “meaningless guttural sounds”.