Circus strongman Henry is accused of murder, although he proclaims his innocence. Now he is on the run with his infant son. On New Year’s Eve, he sneaks into a manor house. The niece of the house, Eva, wants to help the strongman and his child, but is unable to stop her uncle from taking him captive. Henry vows revenge on Eva. After 14 years in prison, new evidence is discovered and Henry is paroled, but he is a broken man. After searching at an orphanage in vain for his son, he allows himself to be persuaded by a group of fellow former prisoners to take part in a burglary. That night, he once again meets not just Eva … Benjamin Christensen opens the film by displaying a lighted model of the villa where the nighttime scenes take place, before plunging us into darkness. Shot on sets that were almost pitch black, often illuminated only by a single lamp, or weak ‘moonlight,’ and using expansive perspective, such as a shot through a darkening keyhole, the Danish director liberated the lighting from theatrical precedents. He also profiled himself as a specialist for horror films, a genre that would draw him to Hollywood ten years later.
by Benjamin Christensen
with Benjamin Christensen, Karen Sandberg, Peter Fjelstrup