Asta Nielsen in Jugend und Tollheit, 1913
Jesta Müller dresses as a young man in order to be close to a lieutenant she admires. He is supposed to marry another, but only to save his family from financial ruin. Jesta follows him, and finds herself caught in a series of increasingly tricky situations: she has to share a bed with him, shave, listen to men’s jokes, and almost go swimming with him. Ultimately, however, she becomes his wife.
The film is lost.
The fact that this film is lost fills me with an indescribable rage and sense of deprivation. No, it might not have been a priceless cultural gem, but it would have been another film to add to the list of films that help to blur the gender lines and make it a little easier to swallow the truth that women can do anything men can do, and that given the right motivation and the right set of circumstances, not only do gender-constructs and societal acceptance cease to matter, but that it can be difficult to pull off, and that there isn’t a thing wrong with that.
For a 1913-produced film, that’s not half bad. Also - Asta Nielsen. There isn’t enough of her in the world.