Films were first screened in Denmark at an exhibition of the Lumière Cinématographe in Copenhagen on 7 June 1896. Local filmmaking began two years later, and 1904 saw the opening of the country’s first permanent cinema. In 1906 Nordisk Films Kompagni was founded (it is still in existence, claiming to be the world’s longest established continuously active film production company). In the years between 1909 and 1914, Denmark was Europe’s most successful film centre: indeed by 1910 the output of Nordisk alone was over a hundred films a year. The career of Asta Nielsen, superstar of European early cinema, was launched in her native Denmark with the controversial erotic melodrama Afgrunden/The Abyss (1910), co-directed by Hjalmar Davidsen and Nielsen’s husband, Urban Gad. Nielsen’s role as a seductress in Afgrunden is indicative of two distinctive types of early Danish cinema: the sensational subject and the ‘vamp’ film (see stereotype). Prominent early directors include Viggo Larsen, Holger Madsen and, perhaps most famously, Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampyr, 1932), who later also worked in Sweden and France. Following the success of Denmark’s first sound feature film, Præsten i Vejlby/The Clergyman of Vejlby (George Schnéevoight, 1931), around nine features were made annually for the remainder of the 1930s. ...
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