Experience the thrilling days of early Nordic cinema with a screening set to live musical accompaniment of Dr. Nicholson og den Blaa Diamant (Dr. Nicholson and the Blue Diamond; 1913), an exhilarating Danish heist film of the silent era, alongside an introduction and discussion with Professor Vito Adriaensens on his new book Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames: The Art of Early European Cinema. In Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames, Adriaensens looks at Europe’s first feature films through the lens of an art historian. He focuses on how internationally influential Danish, French and Swedish companies first created cinematic form by mirroring popular genre painting, social stage melodrama and Pictorialist photography. These were the first “art films.”
Dr. Nicholson og den blaa Diamant (Dr. Nicholson and the Blue Diamond; 1913). 56 min.
When the Danish crime caper Dr. Nicholson and the Blue Diamond hit U.S. screens in 1913, Moving Picture News called it “chock-a-block [full of scenes] of the kind which send thrills cavorting up and down our spines.” Beautifully tinted and toned, Dr. Nicholson presents us with sensational thrills—cheap, yet extremely expensive to pull off on film at the time—wrapped in an art-film jacket that suited most European films of the period. A French Count seeks better luck in America but collides with an evil, hookah-smoking genius who calls himself Doctor. This is a story involving kidnapping, cocaine, explosions, a wild chase scene on the roof of a moving train and a sprinkle of modern dance. The film will screen with live musical accompaniment by composer-performer Jordan Dykstra.
With Holger Reenberg, Edith Buemann Psilander, Anton de Verdier and Viggo Wiehe. Written by Mogens Falck. Director unknown. Produced by Kinografen.
About the Author
Vito Adriaensens is a scholar, filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Vito is a co-author of Screening Statues: Sculpture and Cinema and the author of Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames: The Art of Early European Cinema. He is currently finishing a book on Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 silent film Häxan for the British Film Institute’s Classics series; editing the scholarly volume The Tableau Vivant: From Living Pictures to Moving Images for Edinburgh University Press; and writing From New Stagecraft to New Cinema: Silent Film Performs the Avant-Garde for Amsterdam University Press.
About the Musician
Jordan Dykstra is a Brooklyn-based composer-performer of chamber music and film music. His album The Arrow of Time (New World Records) was listed as one of the best Modern Composition albums of 2020 by The Wire and included in the list of Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2020 by Bandcamp. Dykstra’s chamber music has been programmed in venues around the world (Tokyo, Reykjavík, Los Angeles, New York City, Zürich, Ostrava [CZ], Brussels, Berlin, Ano Syros [GR], Rhode Island, and Texas, among others) and his film scores have been heard at numerous film festivals (Cannes, Sundance, IFFR, Tribeca, TIFF, DocNYC, Art Basel, etc.). In 2023 he scored the film 20 Days in Mariupol — currently nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, 2 BAFTAs, and the winner of the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival — which the Wall Street Journal wrote “[was] aided greatly by an eerie, tonal score by Jordan Dykstra.” In addition, as a performer, Dykstra has been heard with bands such as Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Valet, and Lucky Dragons.