Die Suffragette
R: Urban Gad. B: Urban Gad. K: Karl Freund, Emil Schünemann, Guido Seeber. D: Asta Nielsen, Max Landa, Charly Berger, Fred Immler, Mary Scheller. P: Projektions-AG Union (PAGU). D 1913
Print: Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin

“Women of the silent screen are often slotted into stereotypes, such as Pola Negri the vamp or Mary Pickford the ingénue. With Asta Nielsen, however, it’s difficult to pin her down as one established type, except simply as ‘Die Asta’. Over the course of her career, the Danish-born actor would appear on screen in a tragic heroine, a precocious girl or a scheming comedienne. Her name value alone was enough to market her films as a series to cinemas around Europe in the 1910s. At this time film still clung onto the coattails of the stage for cultural legitimacy. Marketing materials would proclaim Nielsen to be “the Duse of cinema” referring to the Italian opera singer Eleanora Duse. Nielsen’s 1913 film Die Suffragette declares itself to be “a mimed play in five acts” in the title sequence, connecting it to the relatively more respected sphere of theatre.  Nielsen had trained for the stage before breaking into film, but what sets her apart from her co-stars and contemporaries of the 1910s is her restraint. While many others often resorted to exaggerated gesticulations, an acting style more suited for performing on stage for a live audience than to a lifeless camera, Nielsen’s movements are more controlled and subtle, drawing the audience into the psychology of her characters rather than telegraphing it to the masses. This makes her work inherently cinematic, rather than a direct translation from stage to screen, allowing her to portray memorable characters with a degree of sophistication.”
Cathy Brennan: Where to begin with Asta Nielsen. A beginner’s path through the glittering career of Danish diva Asta Nielsen – gender-bending star of the silent screen.

“The inter-title insists that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, which — in light of the film’s theme of women’s suffrage — can be regarded as an avowal that a woman’s place is in the home and thus women have no need to vote. From that perspective, the tableau showing Nelly with her husband and children constitutes a conservative frame that privileges the existing order. On the other hand, the conclusion of the film can also be read as a grotesque parody of a happy ending. This interpretation is supported by the considerable temporal leap from the first kiss to being a mother of four (judging by the children’s ages, at least five years must have passed), by the rather artificial arrangement of the characters in a tableau, and because Nelly at one point gets a baby’s dummy in her mouth (which Lord Ascue removes again). This tableau sequence therefore depicts the domestication of a suffragette, but the temporal jump and the aesthetic shift point to ambiguity as a possibility. (…)

The idea that the ambiguous ending hints at a parody is supported by the foregoing plot of the film. Nelly is very engaged in her involvement with the community of suffragettes. At their first encounter, Nelly becomes the centre of attention; this is where we see the medium close-up that shows the excitement on her face. Nelly’s enthusiasm and proud political engagement are also clear later on, when the suffragettes defend her against her sceptical father. (…) Nelly’s character stands out in A Militant Suffragette as the character to whom we have most access in the filmic narrative (…). In the film’s mise-en-scène, Nelly is always positioned centrally in relation to the other characters: in two-shots, the other character is often seen in profile, while they look at Nelly, who is oriented towards the camera so that we can see her facial expressions. (…) A Militant Suffragette is a political film about women’s struggle for voting rights. It is also a diva film with a focus on the female star, Asta Nielsen, and its narrative gives special access to the character Nelly Panburne through its film-aesthetic expression, in terms of cinematography as well as costumes. The ambiguous ending imbues the political topic with broad appeal, but also opens up the possibility that it could be interpreted as a parodic comment.”
Helle Kannik Haastrup: Asta Nielsen: A Cosmopolitan Diva

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>>> AfgrundenBalletdanserindenDie Filmprimadonna (Frgm.), Zapatas BandeDas Mädchen ohne Vaterland,  Die Verräterin,   S1,  Den sorte Drøm