Carl Theodor Dreyer

Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer by Ray Carney

Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer by Raymond Carney provides an intelligent, thoughtful, and accessible analysis of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s body of work. In order to illustrate the recurring themes and distinctive visual aesthetic that pervade Dreyer’s films, Carney examines The Passion of Joan of Arc, Day of Wrath, Ordet, and… read more »

Gertrud, 1964

Gertrud is an emotionally restrained, yet profoundly compelling portrait of a life without compromise. Gertrud (Nina Pens Rode) is a captivating, privileged woman married to a diligent professional, Gustav Kanning (Bendt Rothe). She is disillusioned with her marriage, believing that Gustav’s political ambitions impede his complete devotion to her. On the afternoon of Gustav’s impending… read more »

Ordet, 1955

A disconnected, soft spoken man wanders into the vast open field of the Danish countryside, as he often does, preaching to the wind, believing that he is Jesus Christ. His name is Johannes Borgen (Preben Lerdorff Rye), a theology student who suffered a mental breakdown pondering the fundamental questions of faith and religion. His younger… read more »

Day of Wrath, 1943

It is 1623, Denmark, a hundred years after the Protestant reformation, and religious tide has swung from the sale of indulgences to theological fanaticism. Witchcraft trials occur with certain frequency, and any aberrant behavior is cause for denunciation. Herlof’s Marthe (Anna Svierkier), a morally weak woman who experiments with the occult, has been denounced as… read more »

Vampyr, 1932

Filmed during the transition from silent to sound, Vampyr also represents a creative transition for Carl Theodor Dreyer. Having ended his association with Société Général de Films, the production company that had brought him to Paris and financed The Passion of Joan of Arc (he subsequently broke his contract and filed a lawsuit against them… read more »

The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928

In 1431 Rouen, in the midst of a ravaging Hundred Years War with England, a nineteen year old French peasant girl named Jeanne was condemned to death by the church tribunal for heresy, and burned at the stake. Based on the historical transcripts of the actual trial, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of… read more »

Master of the House, 1925

A departure from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s general reputation as a director of severe, forbidding, and deeply spiritual films, Master of the House reflects the gentle humor, humanism, and innate social conscience that is often overlooked in the cursory assessment of Dreyer’s stylistically identifiable and accomplished body of work. In Master of the House, Ida Frandsen… read more »

Leaves from Satan’s Book, 1921

The prologue to Leaves from Satan’s Book recounts the familiar tale of Satan’s banishment from Heaven. In order to return, Satan is doomed to perform acts of temptation upon humanity with the stipulation that for every soul who yields, 100 years will be added to his time on earth. However, for every soul who resists,… read more »

The Parson’s Widow, 1920

A young theologian of modest means named Söfren (Einar Röd) has long courted his beloved Mari (Greta Almroth), but their hoped for marriage has been indefinitely postponed by Mari’s father until Söfren has been able to find a respectable post as parson of his own church. One day, an opportunity presents itself when the parson… read more »