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The Flying Circus (1912)

Den flyvende cirkus (original title)
The Flying Circus was the largest traveling artist band in the country, and among its favorite artists were the rope-dancer, Laurento and the snake tamer, Ula Kiri. The hot blooded gypsy ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Rasmus Ottesen ...
Emilie Otterdahl ...
Erna, hans Datter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lili Beck ...
Ula Kiri-Maja, Slangetæmmerske (as Lilli Beck)
Kirstine Friis-Hjorth ...
Cirkustjener
Richard Jensen ...
Laurento, Linedanser
Stella Lind ...
Strøms stuepige
Charles Løwaas ...
Cirkusgæst
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Storyline

The Flying Circus was the largest traveling artist band in the country, and among its favorite artists were the rope-dancer, Laurento and the snake tamer, Ula Kiri. The hot blooded gypsy snake tamer is passionately in love with the attractive young man, hut he does not quite return her feelings. She is hasty and ill-tempered, and not far from being cruel to those depending on her. For the first time the Flying Circus pitches its tents in a small country town. The daughter of the mayor attends. The rope dancer meets her and for him it is a case of love at first sight, and he decides to do all in his power to win her. That night a great fire breaks out in the town, and the flying embers ignite the home of the mayor. The townspeople strive to deflect the flames, but all in vain. The mansion is doomed to destruction and it seems that the mayor's daughter must perish. At this juncture Laurento beats his way through the flames and scales the wall, and, picking up the frantic maiden, jumps ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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circus | circus performer | See All (2) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

28 June 1913 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Flying Circus  »

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1.33 : 1
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"A good performance"
17 September 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

The Danes apparently had quite a fixation with the circus. 'The Flying Circus (1912)' was only one of many such-themed films that were released in the early years of the 1910s, and the film itself spawned a sequel, also directed by Alfred Lind, called 'The Bear Tamer (1912).' Indeed, circuses were a popular cinematic theme in film-making for many years. With their extraordinary collection of the weird and wonderful – high-wire acts, performing animals, clowns and strong-men – such a setting was prime material for exciting movie viewing {notably, the most entertaining example of all is probably Chaplin's 'The Circus (1927)'}. This particular Danish effort starts a bit slow, almost as a documentary of circus life, but eventually draws on its characters to provide an interesting and intermittently exciting slice of melodrama and escapism. Behind the sparkle and glamour of circus life lurks the scourge of lust, passion, jealousy and treachery, personified in the sleazy, cigar-smoking snake-charmer, Ula Kiri-Maja (Lili Bech), who fires up the screen with her smoldering sexual domination.

Though I had been expecting more of a straight documentary, the dramatisation and character development in 'The Flying Circus' was a welcome deviation. Borgmester Strøm (Rasmus Ottesen) is purportedly the circus' greatest tight-rope walker. His first effort does little to convince us of this – it's a completely lame three-metre trot along a rope that's about three metres above the stage, but the audience in the film seemed impressed enough, as did the mayor's daughter, Erna (Emilie Otterdahl). Considerably more impressive is a later feat, when Borgmester utilises his tight-rope skills to rescue Erna from the window of a burning building {even if I clearly noticed a crewman's head crop up where there ought to have been nothing but thin air}. Though he soon wants to marry Erna, his request is declined by her father, who is adamant that no daughter of his will ever marry a performing peasant. To secure enough money to ensure a respectable marriage, Borgmester decides to tight-rope walk a long rope to the top of a church tower.

Offering to perform a dangerous stunt to acquire much-needed marital funds sounds a bit like Harold Lloyd's 'Safety Last! (1923),' even if this Danish version is only mildly exciting in comparison. The performances are more understated than might be expected – there's certainly nothing that would be called naturalistic, but, as far as silent cinema goes, the main cast members manage to keep their exaggerated gestures to an acceptable minimum. Lili Bech, calling to mind the vampiric French actress Musidora (of Louis Feuillade's serials), totally steals the show, her every action leading me to curse her unfettered nastiness. The film's running-time of 46 minutes was around average for features of the time, though the cinematic techniques used are still relatively primitive, especially compared to the excellent work that D.W. Griffith during those same years. Alfred Lind's 'The Flying Circus' deserves at least a single viewing, as a historical curiosity, a Danish curiosity and as a pleasant-enough circus melodrama – a beautifully-restored print is available on DVD from the Danish Film Institute.


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