Film magic and state-of-the-art technology

DIGITISATION. In 1925, parts of Rome were recreated in the Copenhagen suburb of Valby to shoot the silent movie 'Mists of the Past'. Now, 95 years later, A.W. Sandberg's melodrama will be enjoying its digital premiere. Discover more about the film's complex digitisation process, all the way from an underground nitrate archive in a forest glade to its release on the Danish Film Institute's silent film platform

Miles of film strips have passed through the hands of the Film Archive's employees and their high-tech machines that can clean, scan, adjust contrast, color correct and remove scratches and dust. Why? So the films can be experienced on the Danish Film Institute's silent film streaming site, which has been up and running since 2019.

One of these gems is 'Mists of the Past' ('Fra Piazza del Popolo') from 1925, now finally ready for its digital premiere. A.W. Sandberg's historical melodrama from Rome, the capital of Art, is one of the more than 400 silent films that are being made ready for streaming.

The film's production was huge, set at silent era film giant Nordisk Film in their studios in the small Copenhagen suburb of Valby, and was meant to help restore the company to its former international glory. In his report from the shooting, the correspondent of the Aftenposten newspaper wrote:

"(Sandberg) has built up entire districts of what was then Rome, narrow alleys, where coquettish, dainty Italian women look out from behind the green shutters, and matriarchal carabinieres march back and forth in front of picturesque warehouses, open squares with columns and doves and images of Mary and old ruins, where thistles and thorns grow in the cracks."

Pure Magic or Modern Technology? is a new theme on about the journey from analogue to digital, taking us through the process of transforming 'Mists of the Past' from strip to stream. The theme includes a video (see below) which follows the film's path from the underground nitrate archive in a forest north of Copenhagen to the Danish Film Institute archive's advanced technology, finally leading up to its release on

Video 'Mists of the Past: From Strip to Stream'

“The silent film era was a golden age of Danish cinema – both artistically and financially. Danish films from the period are of international interest, shown far beyond the country's borders. At the time, Hollywood was in Valby,” says curator Thomas Christensen.

“Nordisk Film's productions in particular had an international focus and a global audience, but in connection with World War I the company lost its status when Germany nationalised their film production in 1917, and Nordisk had to sell its German cinema empire. Their 60 cinemas in Central Europe had secured a steady income, which was invested in new productions back home in Valby, but in 1925, the year 'Mists of the Past' was made, Nordisk Film was in fierce competition with booming Hollywood. A few years later, Danish film production closed almost completely."

See 'Mists of the Past' ('Fra Piazza del Popolo', 1925) and read more in the theme Pure Magic or Modern Technology?


The golden age of Danish silent films is brought to life on the Danish Film Institute's streaming site

Here you can follow the digitisation of more than 400 works from the 1897-1928 period and watch the films.

Running until 2023, this film-archaeological project is both wide-ranging and unpredictable, as some of the old reels have not been viewed since the 1920s,

Since the launch of the site in November 2020, 81 films have been made available, and 100 more will be online by the end of 2020. In addition to watching the films, you can also find posters, photos, thematic articles, scripts and contemporary reviews. All is free to access.

The films are restored in full cinema quality so that they can also be shown at festivals. is the biggest film-dissemination effort ever in Denmark. Linked to it is a Danish-German research project mapping the cross-border traffic of ideas and people between the two leading nations of the silent film era.

The project is made possible by a donation of DKK 30 million from the A.P. Møller Foundation, the Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen Foundation and the Augustinus Foundation.


Thomas C. Christensen
Tel. +45 3374 3576