Either-Or — Søren Kierkegaard & Regine Olsen — The Greatest Love Story Never Told

Mikael Colville-Andersen
22 min readJul 8, 2020

The story of the relationship between the Danish writer and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and Regine Olsen. The greatest love story never told.

A number of years ago when I worked in the film industry, I spent an entire year researching a feature screenplay. As often happens in the fanciful film and TV industry, it was never made. I recently rediscovered my work while cleaning up and thought I would put it here.

Søren Kierkegaard is one of history’s greatest thinkers and philosophers — the Father of Existentialism, no less. His thoughts and words have inspired generations of philosophers and continue to be analyzed in the greatest detail by nerdy academics all over the world. So much so that the human behind the words has been forgotten and I think that this is why there has never been a film about him. If he were alive today, however, Søren Kierkegaard wouldn’t be a stuffy university professor. He would be one of our great thinkers but he would also be a George Carlin or Ricky Gervais.

The French philosophy giant Georges Deleuze stated that without Regine Olsen there would never have been a Søren Kierkegaard. To understand Kierkegaard, we must tell the story of his love for Regine and the massive sacrifices he made for his art. We must explore the Man behind his carefully tailored and fabricated facade, expose his frailty and his simple human need for love. The drama surrounding their relationship is central to the understanding of Kierkegaard’s existentialism because Regine remained “an essential subject” for him throughout his life. He gave up his one true love in order to think and write and change the world. And yet she remained integral to his life, as he tells us from his deathbed:

She was the one I loved. My existence must unconditionally accentuate her life. My writing should be considered a monument to her honour and memory. I carry her with me into history…

This is a simple story of love in the Danish Golden Age, but also about a tortured, brilliant and creative mind battling with the human emotion of love. A man loving so hard and yet unable to love because of a need to think and write.

Mikael Colville-Andersen

Urban designer, author and host of the global documentary series about urbanism, The Life-Sized City. Impatient Idealist.