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Asta Nielsen

Asta Nielsen was one of the great stars of European cinema. She began in 1910 in the Danish film industry, already world leaders in adult-themed dramas. When Germany came to the fore, she became an institution there as well. Her films are little seen outside of Europe, though the Pacific Film Archives ran a retrospective a few years ago. One film which is available is Nielsen fascinating portrayal of the title role in the world's strangest version of Hamlet (1920). She was Lulu (in 1923's Erdgeist) long before Louise Brooks. Her best known film outside of Europe is Die Freudlose Gasse (1925) co-starring diva-to-be Greta Garbo. A compelling performer and artistic innovator, Nielsen's films deserve a worldwide audience.

On the Web

The Internet Movie Database filmography

Bright Lights Film Journal article appreciation by Gary Morris.

Asta Nielsen, der Stern des Stummfilms (in German)

Asta Nielsen page on the website of the Udenrigsministeriet

Portrait of the Actress Asta Nielsen

The Asta Nielsen Memorial Page (in German)

FemBio bibliography on Asta Nielsen in German and in English

Berliner Film- und Kinogeschichte website (In German)

Clips from Aufgrunden on You Tube
Search her name for other clips of her films

A clip from Zapatas Bande (1914)
is on YouTube thanks to Ives Argus

Silent Films Available on Video

Aufgrunden (1910), Balletdanserinden (1911), Den Sorte Dr øm (1911) and Mod Lyset (1919)
Available from The Danish Film Institue (DVD, PAL only)
Die Arme Jenny (1912)
Available from A private collector
Hamlet (1920)
Available from Peter Kavel
Die Freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street) (1925)
Formerly available from Kino Video


Here is a colored picture of Die Asta as Hedda Gabler (1924), plus a small picture of her, still easily recognizable in later life. These picture are courtesy of Joop van Dijk (as are the next two pictures) Two pictures of Asta Nielsen

Asta Nielsen in 1970 Picture (or issue in which picture appeared) is dated Jan. 21, 1970

These pictures are of Asta at home with her new husband, ca. 1970 when she was probably 87 or 88! She was some lady. Asta Neilsen at home with her husband

Further Reading

Asta Nielsen : ihr Leben in Fotodokumenten, Selbstzeugnissen und zeitgenössischen Betrachtungen. Munich: Universitas, 1981

Asta Nielsen und die Sprechbühne . Berlin : [no publisher given, mid 1920s?]. Read book and see pictures, or download the PDF in the Internet Archive.

The Oxford History of World Cinema, Edited by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Article on Nielsen by Janet Bertstrom on p. 26

Unsung Divas

©2001, by Greta de Groat. All Rights Reserved

Last revised December 26, 2014