Convert me, and I'll be yours! Be mine, and I'll convert!
All four films made by Asta Nielsen in Denmark (in 1910, 1911 and 1919) , before she became an international superstar, have been released by the Danish Film Institute, which was created a hundred years ago and has taken care of Danish films ever since. Thus we usually get very good, clean and sharp copies of films almost 100 years old. The series is truly amazing, and the Asta Nielsen disk is one of the best. The four features (on one disk) are: Livets storme, Afrgrunden, Den sorte drøm, and Mod Lyset. I had only seen Asta Nielsen's later films, such as Hamlet, before, therefore I was astounded to see that she was a rather beautiful actress in her youth, with a figure of a Barbie doll which she isn't afraid to show. The films are remarkably good as well. In Afgrunden, we see Miss Nielsen as a shy piano teacher who abandons her fiancée in order to elope with a circus artist, who turns her into a harlot and a murderess; in Livets storme she is a dancer whose beauty brings along the ruin of her and of men; in Den sorte drom she is a circus star who does everything for the man she loves, and in Mod Lyset a reckless countess who has to destroy the lives of several men as well as her own before she learns the true values of life. The last tale is a bit moralizing for modern tastes, but the first three (from 1910-1911) are true gems. These films are naturalistic, strong portraits of life before the WW I. Miss Nielsen is a very good actress indeed, as well as a gorgeous clothes horse, wearing the trendiest models of the day around her nonexistent waist. The prints are very sharp, even though the first film shows some decomposition. They should have been released colour tinted and with somewhat more interesting musical accompaniment than the constantly meditating piano, but who cares? These films still were eye openers. When you thought the film wasn't a true art form back in 1910, think again: moving camera, panning camera, closeups, parallel editing, fluent narrative it's all there, and years before these techniques became accepted in UK, US or Italy.
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