Afgrunden (1910)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Melodrama, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 35 min.  |   Countries - Denmark   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

This early Danish silent film was more than any other the reason for that country's international reputation for sexual melodramas. The story is a lurid tale of a music teacher (Asta Nielsen) who's lured away from her stolid fiancee (Robert Dinesen) by a handsome, but ultimately faithless circus performer (Poul Reumert). The plot is typical for the era and the film's importance was more due to the naturalistic performances given by the small cast, especially Asta Nielsen, who made an auspicious screen debut. The film became a cause celebre in many places because of one scene in particular: The girl and her lover perform an erotic Parisian "Apache" dance, which was considered extremely vulgar at the time. (Viewed today, the dancing is at best clumsy.) Afgrunden, re-titled Woman Always Pays, reached American shores in 1912 but was so heavily censored as to be virtually meaningless. Nielsen, who married the film's director, set designer Urban Gad, went on to become Europe's most admired screen goddess. Working mainly in Germany (where she was nicknamed "Die Asta" and had theaters named after her), Nielsen finally succumbed to the call of Hollywood in the late 1920s. She didn't stay long and never filmed there (the California sun played havoc with her Scandinavian soul) and is unjustly forgotten today.



circus-performer, fiancee, fidelity, music-teacher