Director: Urban Gad
Cast: Asta Nielsen, Robert Dinesen, Poul Reumert
Synopsis: A piano teacher falls for a circus performer and runs away with the circus.
Urban Gad’s sensationalist melodrama sees the breathtakingly beautiful Asta Neilsen play Magda, a piano teacher who forsakes her safe, respectable fiancé (Robert Dineen) for the exciting horseback circus performer Rudolf (Poul Reumert). Rudolf is one of those characters straight out of a Mills and Boon romance, climbing through the window of Magda’s bedroom to take her roughly in his manly arms and plant kisses on her lips as she protests unconvincingly. It’s all about the danger of a woman’s sexuality when allowed to flourish unchecked, and poor Magda pays a heavy price for succumbing to her erotic fantasies.
For 1910, Afgrunden (The Abyss) is quite a sophisticated piece of work which is typical of the high quality movies coming out of Denmark at the time (despite their sensationalist storylines). The acting is exaggerated at times, and as with many silent movies there is more running time than there is story to fill it, but Neilsen is a pleasure to watch, and is mesmerising in a sultry, erotic dance that still looks pretty steamy today. It’s just a shame that the only available prints have degraded so badly at some points.
(Reviewed on 19th December 2014)