falderal : a moving images blog
Balletdanserinden (The Ballet Dancer) ; 1911  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: August Blom
Actors: Valdemar Møller, Asta Nielsen, Johannes Poulsen, Valdemar Psilander
Country: Denmark

I am getting a bit skeptical of Danish silents, but I suppose I am being quick to judge since I’ve only watched two. I should look for early Carl Theodor Dreyer works and see if they are in a similar style as the ones I’m watching, but sadly Dreyer directed after the films I’m watching, so maybe his films won’t be a good way to compare.
Anyway, Balletdanserinden, I found out, is directed by a famous director during the Danish golden age in cinema, and despite all this, I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed in the sense that I was with Ball of Fire, but this film felt so trivial and that it was a film that wasn’t worth my time. That was a bit harsh and maybe I do take that back, but this film was something that one could POSSIBLY call cute (seeing Asta Nielsen in a tutu of sorts was adorable [ref. Picture 1]), maybe this film can be called a (melo)drama, and well, in the end I was like, “Well now! That’s that?!”

The music ended abruptly and so did the scene, and it completely did not help that Nielsen’s character, Camille, is looking at her old boyfriend Jean (portrayed by Johannes Poulsen)with longing eyes and then she sees her new (?!) boyfriend and then they are in a passionate embrace and then the intertitle “SLUT” comes up and ends all the music and the scene. Being a typical college student and being immature, I can’t help but laugh every time I think about that scene and then the “SLUT”. I guess that I will be a terrible student once I learn Danish and go to Denmark to watch Nielsen’s films.
Ok, I’m digressing, but the whole film was rather confusing. Camille falls in love with Jean and Jean supposedly loves only her yet he cheats on her with Mrs. Simon (who I assume is a very wealthy woman). Mr. Simon finds out about his cheating wife and is about to beat her with a whip (you go Mr. Simon!) *ahem* when Mrs. Simon, I assume, says that she’ll stop and all is forgiven. Alas, Mrs. Simon can’t help her urges and Camille finds out that Jean is still cheating on her with Mrs. Simon, thus Camille, in a fit of jealousy, tells Mr. Simon about everything and when Mr. Simon decides to either kill Jean or Mrs. Simon (it’s a bit unclear), Camille regrets telling Mr. Simon about the whole affair and finds Jean and Mrs. Simon, who are not-so surprisingly together, and warns them about Mr. Simon. Camille exchange clothes with Mrs. Simon so that when Mr. Simon sees Camille walk out of the house with Jean in Mrs. Simon’s clothes, he’ll think that he caught her in the act, but it’s really another woman. Camille covers her face with a veil so that her identity is not discovered by Mr. Simon. Mrs. Simon walks out when her husband is still outside and when Mr. Simon sees his wife, he chases her and kills her with a gun. When Camille finds out about this, she becomes ill, but her friend, Paul (Valdemar Psilander) takes her away to his house (sound familiar? Reference Afgrunden) and all is good since Camille gets along with his parents. The final scene confused me at first because the two male characters looked the same, but I figured it all out thanks to the BFI website. Camille is alone when she sees Jean. Jean is glad to see her and he kisses her hand when Paul sees them, but Camille all too easily leaves Jean for Paul and the film ends.

Nielsen’s performance was below-par and I thought she over-acted in some parts. I felt as if she was nothing special especially since the other actors were pretty naturalistic. The death scene with Mrs. Simon wasn’t as bad as the one in Afgrunden and overall, nothing too spectacular in the acting department.

I adored the clothes and Nielsen had THE BEST HAT EVER! That is why I screencapped it for you. Also, I screencapped the room so that you can see the beautiful furnishings yet there is the flimsy door with the painted on decoration like the one I described in Afgrunden. I am still upset with Nielsen’s performance because I felt as if she got worse in comparision to her performance in Afgrunden, which I thought was pretty good. She acted more with her body than with her eyes and face, which is probably why I am thinking this, but still, it was disappointing. And that last scene! Really! There wasn’t even a moment when Camille thought for a second before she made a choice with which man she’ll be with, but she just went from one guy to another.

Maaike commented on my other Nielsen related post saying

I’m really curious to see the film now, though what you’ve written pretty much corresponds with the other Gad films that I’ve seen, in that he is basically a crummy director who chooses stories that are kind of odd and where you can’t really tell whether there’s supposed to be a ‘message’ or not, and whose only saving grace is basically that he employed Asta and let her do whatever she wanted.

and her thoughts on Gad films reflect this film as well. Sure it’s not directed by Gad, but I didn’t think Blom was anything special and there didn’t seem to be much of a difference between the the style of Gad or Blom. I was happy that it shows Camille in a positive light since she got over her jealously and “for the sake of love” (I think that is what the intertitle said. How corny.), she tried to save Mrs. Simon and Jean and she stayed with the nicer guy. After watching one too many Korean soap operas, I do get skeptical over situations when women have to choose between the nice guy and the jerk because they always pick the jerk, but this film didn’t disappoint me in that aspect.

IMDb link: Balletdanserinden
Where to buy: Danish Film Institute Net Shop, Edition Filmmuseum

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