Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Silent Oscars: 1910

Internationally, the best known actress of the era was Asta Nielsen. Though born in Denmark, Nielsen made most of her films in Germany where she was known simply as "Die Asta" (The Asta). Film critic Lotte Eisner called her acting "intensely modern" and the "ideal" of European intellectuals in the 1910s and 1920s. It was also, for its time, intensely erotic, and thanks to the heavy hand of American censors, largely unknown on this side of the Atlantic.

Nevertheless, her "exceptionally unmannered" style of acting (David Thomson) influenced the generation of performers who followed her. Her best known films now are Afgrunden (a.k.a. The Woman Always Pays), Hamlet and Joyless Street, in which she co-starred with a young Swedish actress making one of her first films.

"The woman who taught me everything I know," Greta Garbo said later, "was Asta Nielsen."

Nielsen's version of Hamlet, produced by a film company she formed specifically for that purpose, is unusual in that not only does she play the title role, but she plays Hamlet as a woman disguised as a man. She abandoned movies with the advent of sound and returned to the stage in 1927. She died in 1972 at the age of 90.

winner: Frankenstein (prod. Edison Manufacturing Company)
nominees: Afgrunden a.k.a. The Abyss a.k.a. The Woman Always Pays (prod. Hjalmar Davidsen); The D.W. Griffith Biograph Shorts (prod. The Biograph Company); Jeffries-Johnson World's Championship Boxing Contest (prod. J. Stuart Blackton); The Max Linder Short Comedies (prod. Pathé Frères); Mobiliaire Fidele a.k.a. The Automatic Moving Company (prod. Émile Cohl)

winner: Charles Ogle (Frankenstein)
nominees: Max Linder (The Max Linder Short Comedies); Marc McDermott (A Christmas Carol)

winner: Asta Nielsen (Afgrunden a.k.a. The Abyss a.k.a. The Woman Always Pays)
nominees: Vittoria Lepanto (Salomé); Florence Turner (Twelfth Night)

winner: J. Searle Dawley, Charles Kent and Ashley Miller (A Christmas Carol)
nominees: Émile Cohl (Mobiliaire Fidele a.k.a. The Automatic Moving Company); J. Searle Dawley (Frankenstein); Urban Gad (Afgrunden a.k.a. The Abyss a.k.a. The Woman Always Pays); D.W. Griffith (The D.W. Griffth Biograph Shorts)

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