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 Stumfilm.dk, 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 Stumfilm.dk 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 Stumfilm.dk.
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?