One modern critic termed this classic of the Danish silent screen, "a bad story translated into moving pictures with a visual energy that still commands respect." Directed by future Hollywood emigre Benjamin Christensen, Det Hemmelighedsfulde X told a sordid story of a navy officer (Christensen) falsely accused of being a spy and stubbornly refusing to hand over proof of his innocence in order to protect a philandering wife. An innovator, Christensen astounded audiences by filming the turning on of an electric light. Motion pictures were shot in natural sunlight in those days, and Christensen was forced to use trick photography. The set was draped with black cloth and Karen Sandberg, playing the adulterous wife, entered to "turn on the light." The camera was stopped while the cloth was removed and the actress remained still. When filming resumed, the set was bathed in light. Det Hemmelighedsfulde X, along with the Swedish Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), led to a contract with Ufa in Germany and, in time, the invitation to Hollywood. Alas, Christensen's stay in America was, by and large, a disappointment, and he returned to his native country where he mainly directed programmers.
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