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Song of Death (1912)

Der Totentanz (original title)
Bella is married to engineer Burk who meets with an accident. To provide an income she starts as a performer, but happen to meet an infatuated, intriguing composer. On the brink of marital ruin, she kills the composer.


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Cast overview:
Asta Nielsen ... Bella Burk
Oskar Fuchs Oskar Fuchs ... Ingenieur Burk
Fritz Weidemann Fritz Weidemann ... Komponist Czerneck
Fred Immler Fred Immler
Emil Albes Emil Albes


A powerful story of love and jealousy, faithfulness and treachery, most ably acted and effectively scened. A young married man holding a good position is injured by an accident and rendered incapable of work for a long time. His money gives out and want knocks at the door. His wife goes to her former music teacher for advice and finds a well-known composer there. Hearing her voice he advises her to go upon the stage in his company. She does so, but only after the husband has exacted an oath that she will always be true to him. Her voice wins her fame and the composer falls in love with her, but she repulses him because of her oath. Her husband, jealous to see her name and that of the composer constantly united in the newspapers, determines to seek her and see how things are for himself. Events are thus precipitated in a most dramatic way. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Drama







Release Date:

23 October 1913 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dance to Death See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(2011 reconstruction)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Miss Neilson makes a striking figure
29 December 2017 | by deickemeyerSee all my reviews

This two-part offering deals with passions in a truthful, though not profound, way. There is nothing in it with which a moralist could find immediate and spontaneous fault; but the ground it grows in is not the best play ground for children. It seems to have been made in Germany and the role of heroine is played by Asta Neilson, who is well known to picture fans. She plays the wife of a temporary invalid, is a good singer, and finding it necessary to make money, goes on the stage under the direction of a famous composer. She swears to be true to her husband; yet falls in love with her impresario; lets him fondle her for a moment and then repulses him until, at the end, he, getting too impetuous, she has to stab him to death to save her oath. Then she walks tragically out of the hotel in the care of the police. Miss Neilson makes a striking figure with her black hair falling in masses around her ears and neck, and dressed in an extremely low-cut bodice of black silk made to fit as close as possible. Her acting is strong, but she plays in pantomime which (to American spectators) is not so effective as naturalness. - The Moving Picture World, November 8, 1913

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