The Folly of Sin (1915)

aka Doktor X
Article 4567 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-27-2014
Directed by Robert Dinesen
Featuring Gunnar Tolnaes, Carlo Wieth, Johanne Fritz-Petersen
Country: Denmark
What it is: Drama

A brilliant scientist who is on the verge of finding a cure for cancer is nonetheless unhappy about the emptiness of his social life. He seeks out a competing scientist for help, and that scientist puts him on the trail of winning a beautiful woman for his own. But there is a price to pay…

My various guides claim that the fantastic content here is the discovery of a cure for cancer, and indeed, that element does appear in the story. Those watching it for that content will nonetheless be disappointed; it serves as little more than a Maguffin. However, there’s an interesting and subtler fantastic element here that doesn’t become explicit until the last scene of the movie. The clues are there for those on the alert. For one thing, the lead female in this movie is named Margarethe, which is the first thing that tipped me off. Then I couldn’t help but note that the competing scientist has the sinister and demonic name of Malvolio. With these two clues and the general direction of the story, it’s plain that this is modeled off of a very familiar story indeed, one that is full of fantastic content. The end of the movie could be taken metaphorically, I suppose (especially in its revelation as to who Malvolio really is), but there’s one big question that makes that seem unlikely, and that is this – How was Dr. Malvolio able to make sure that Dr. Kamper would make his fortune in the risky business of betting on a roulette wheel? In short, it doesn’t matter that the cancer cure is a minor plot element; this story has a definite fantastically themed template in place, and once you’re aware of it, it’s even more interesting to consider what the cure for cancer represents metaphorically. I have to admit to really enjoying this one, especially in the clever way it disguises its familiar story.


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