Carl Theodor Dreyer – Ordet (1955)
Cast: Preben Lendorff Rye, Henrik Malberg, Birgitte Federspiel, Ann Elisabeth Rud…
With his masterful Ordet (aka The Word, ), legendary Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer examines the conflict between internalized personal faith and organized religion. Dreyer sets the drama in a conservative, super-pious Danish town, where widower Morten Borgen (Henrik Malberg) — the father of three boys — cuts against the grain of the community with his constant heretical doubt. One of his sons, Mikkel Borgen (Emil Hass Christensen), is entangled in an interfaith romance with a fundamentalist’s daughter, while the second, Anders Borgen (Cay Kristiansen), is an agnostic, and the third, Johannes Borgen (Preben Leerdorff-Rye) — a devotee of Søren Kirkegaard — believes that he actually is Jesus Christ — a conviction ridiculed by almost everyone as pure insanity. Also known as The Word, Ordet was the only film that Dreyer made in the 1950s. The author of the play on which the film was based (and which was previously filmed in 1943) was Kaj Munk, a Danish pastor murdered by the Nazis for daring to announce his fidelity to Christ over Hitler. by Hal Erickson (allmovie.com)
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Carl Theodor Dreyer…
Though not a prolific director, or one whose films were consistently popular with critics nor the public, Carl Theodor Dreyer is considered one of the greatest directors in Danish cinema. His use of compact, almost Spartan storylines combined with austere visuals and quick, close-focus cinematography has had a substantial influence on such later directors as Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson. Orphaned early on, Dreyer’s adoptive parents were financially struggling blue-collar, deeply religious Danes. Though they met his basic physical needs, the strict Lutheran concepts with which they raised him would later figure prominently in his work, which was frequently centered upon provocative explorations of psychological guilt and metaphysics. Dreyer became a journalist in 1910 after failing to make it as a cafe pianist or a corporate bookkeeper. With his tabloid, he wrote celebrity profiles; this helped him connect with the entertainment industry. Two years later Dreyer was writing titles for films from the Nordisk company, which lead him to screenwriting and infrequent jobs editing films. He wrote 23 screenplays before directing his first film, The President (1918), a pretentious but ultimately routine melodrama that was neither a critical nor a box-office success. (…)
It was in France that he made the masterpiece for which he is best remembered, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), a powerful, imperfect chronicle of the final day in the saint’s life. It was here that Dreyer took one of Griffith’s techniques, the close-up, and created effects designed to capture every nuance of the characters’ conscious and subconscious state. This film took the director over 18 months to finish. With this film, Dreyer attempted to keep the story historically accurate in every way: the script was based on actual trial records, the cast wore period clothing sans make-up and jewelry, the film was shot in perfect sequence, and elaborate, expensive sets were constructed, including an enormous castle with sliding walls to facilitate photography. Unfortunately, though critics adored the film (and still do, as it remains one of the most carefully examined and acclaimed films in the history of cinema), it was a box office flop. Due to a lengthy breach of contract suit with his French producers over a subsequent film, Dreyer didn’t make another film for five years (though he did win the court case) (…) by Sandra Brennan (allmovie.com)
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Il mistero della vita nella tragedia del vecchio Borgen e dei suoi figli…
In una fattoria dello Jutland vive il vecchio Borgen con i suoi tre figli: Mikkel, sposato con Inger, in attesa del secondo figlio, Johannes, diventato pazzo a causa degli studi di teologia, e Anders, il minore, innamorato della figlia del sarto del villaggio. Sulla fattoria si abbatte la tragedia: Inger muore di parto, Johannes sparisce e il sarto nega il consenso alle nozze per divergenze religiose con Borgen.
Pur rispettandone la lettera, Dreyer trasforma il dramma del pastore protestante Kaj Munk, teso all’esaltazione della parola divina, in un poema laico di affermazione della “vita” in tutte le sue accezioni, incluso il mistero più profondo. Il finale è una vetta sublime della rappresentazione del sacro nel cinema. Leone d’oro a Venezia.
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