Afgrunden (1910)

This is a movie with Asta Nielsen. In Germany they called her “Die Asta”. She was such a bad-ass for her days. She was one of the first international stars. She was Danish.

The most important thing about this movie is the dance (as can be seen in the picture), which apparently is called the Gaucho Dance as the style carries the name. This not only represents a pinnacle in the eroticism of Danish cinema, which at the time was in it’s Golden Age period, but also represents the starting point of Asta’s international career, after which she moved to Germany in order to continue her career.

To be observed in this scene is the positioning of the camera, backstage. We are not a simply spectator, like the people who would be sitting on the right, but it’s like a private viewing. The voioristic pleasures of the spectator are complimented by the two men in the background who are not exactly comfortable with what is happening, but who are eye-dropping on the sensual dance. Both of them are almost hiding behind the curtains, on of them trying to hide himself behind the other. Moreover the police office gives the message of approval and security, almost like saying “You might think it’s wrong what is happening here, but it’s all safe. You can watch. I am here to give a sense of security while you enjoy this naughty spectacle.”

The dance itself is like a mystical metaphor of the woman’s relationship. At first both the dancers come on stage as different entities, but as the woman in black ties her magic lasso she catches her beloved in a magical spell. Furthermore, she does a dance around him, almost hypnotizing the poor man. Her movements appear to follow the lasso almost as if her dance would be an enforcement to the strength of the physical rope. At the end, she sinks her teeth into the man as if she would transform him into her own, almost vampire like. To me it feels like that is her way of sinking her teeth in, like marking her territory.

But to the sadness of the story, the man is not interested and cheats on our heroine, Magda Vang all for the awareness of other women who might think such wreckless behavior of running away with a man from the circus.

The end of the movie you may find funny. After Magda apparently kills her beloved, the last title card says simply “Slut”, which in Danish means “The End”.



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