Asta Nielsen: The Danish Silent Film Diva

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Asta Nielsen (1881-1972) was a Danish silent film actress who was one of the most popular leading ladies of the 1910s and one of the first international movie stars. Seventy of Nielsen’s 74 films were made in Germany where she was known simply as Die Asta (The Asta).

Noted for her large dark eyes, mask-like face and boyish figure, Nielsen most often portrayed strong-willed passionate women trapped by tragic circumstances.

Due to the erotic nature of her performances, Nielsen’s films were censored in the United States, and her work remained relatively obscure to American audiences. She is credited with transforming movie acting from overt theatricality to a more subtle naturalistic style.

Nielsen founded her own film studio in Berlin during the 1920s, but returned to Denmark in 1937 after the rise of Nazism in Germany. A private figure in her later years, Nielsen became a collage artist and an author.

Take a look at these gorgeous photos to see the beauty of a young Asta Nielsen in the 1910s and 1920s.

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