One of the most admired Danish films of all time, Bjarne Henning-Jensen's Ditte Menneskebarn is the story of a poor girl born out of wedlock (Jette Kehlet plays the child Ditte, then Tove Maës) whose mother (Karen Lykkehus) is an abusive adulterer who nearly kills her eldest daughter. Ditte grows up with her grandmother (wonderfully played by Karen Poulsen), but is ill equipped to later fend for herself as a maid on a large farm. Impregnated and abandoned by the weak-willed son of the house (Preben Neergaard), Ditte, just like her mother, will have to face the future as a social outcast. The original novel was by Martin Andersen Nexø (Pelle the Conqueror), a writer who used a very broad pencil indeed. The American reviewers (who saw the film in 1950 sans several scenes of a nude Maës) certainly thought so, dismissing the film as mere melodrama. Some of the performances are difficult to take for a modern audience, but, overall, the film still has the power to move.
by Hans J. Wollstein synopsis