Der Totentanz

A fire flickering in the fire place, Bella’s husband listens while she is playing the lute. A sudden ring of the phone interrupts the cozy scene, calling him to his work place. An explosion at the factory injures him there and sparks a series of tragic events: not able to support her family otherwise, Bella has to pick up a job as a vaudeville singer. She falls in love with a composer and the breach of her matrimonial vow finally leads to tragedy.

“Scandalous!” a critic rants in 1913. Especially alarmed by Asta Nielsen’s dance performance, that she describes as an “oriental belly dance, snake-like, with the movements of a panther, clearly aiming at the sensual drives”, she demands “a lady of virtue should not awaken a man’s desires only to kill him in the end”. Maybe the critic is right – if it just didn’t look so beautiful on the big screen! (On the piano: Peter Gotthardt)
by Urban Gad
with Asta Nielsen, Oskar Fuchs, Fritz Weidemann
Germany (through 1945) 1912 36’