films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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The Passion of Joan of Arc

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc
1928 / 114m - France
The Passion of Joan of Arc poster

Day of Wrath

Vredens Dag
1943 / 100m - Denmark
Day of Wrath poster

I'm certain I'll never be a big Dreyer fan, but it's clear the man has his own way of making films. On paper, a film like Day of Wrath has nothing for me, but thanks to the stark black and white cinematography it becomes a bit easier to stomach. It's still quite the ordeal, but not as bad as some of the other classics.

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A young woman is married to a priest, but she is actually in love with his son. One night she feels brave enough to break the news to her husband, which ultimately leads to his death. The mother of the priest gets wind of the story, and she claims the young woman is a witch, hoping she'll be prosecuted.

The conversations are very theatrical, and the settings are minimalistic. While there are whiffs of witchcraft present, the film is a clear drama and never comes close to being a horror film. Not a very riveting film, certainly not one I'll ever revisit, but it's not as bad as I'd feared up front.


1932 / 75m - Germany
Vampyr poster

Starts off moody enough, but can't really sustain its dark atmosphere. The horror elements are too shallow, the atmosphere is too light and most of the good parts are written down rather than filmed. Dreyer should've taken a hint or two from his German contemporaries, they were a lot better at bringing this kind of material to life.

The Parson's Widow

1920 / 94m - Sweden
Drama, Comedy
The Parson's Widow poster

A surprisingly light Dreyer film. With Jeanne D'Arc in mind I expected a much darker, heavier film, but the tone of The Parson's Widow is actually quite chipper. The film isn't without its portion of drama of course, but there isn't too much wallowing or deep despair here, which was quite the relief.

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A young man is traveling around with his fiance, looking for a suitable parish. When he finds a town that is looking for a parson, he has to compete against two other candidates for the job. A trial sermon will determine who is to be the chosen one, but even the positive outcome doesn't mean the end of this young couple's troubles.

Dreyer shows himself a rather competent director, though the film is rather slow. Especially for a true silent, meaning there's nothing in the way of music or dialogue to add flavor to the images. The quirkier moments are definitely a big plus here, but overall I found the film a bit too simple to be engaging.


1964 / 116m - Denmark
Gertrud poster

My fourth Dreyer, and they seem to be getting progressively worse. While Jeanne D'Arc and Vampyr had some appeal, Ordet and this Getrud turned out to be extremely dry, formal dramas that seemed to a chase purely intellectual explorations of their themes. This is not something I'm particularly interested in.

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Getrud is looking for the right man, but her ideal of love doesn't seem to be very realistic. In relationships with working, providing men she craves passion, when she seeks out more creative types they can't seem to offer her the stability she needs. And so she remains alone, not wanting to compromise on her ideal.

Conversations are very formal, with characters hardly looking at each other and citing precise dialogues detailing their feelings. It's dry as a bone and it's all there is, two hours long. The interior sets are pretty dull too, but at least the crisp black and white cinematography makes for some interesting shots. Hardly enough to save this film though.

The Word

1955 / 126m - Denmark
Drama, Fantasy
The Word poster

I'm not a big classics fan to begin with, but when they're slow meditations on (specific) religion(s) it gets really tough for me. The Word is incredibly slow, the camera is static, the acting questionable and the philisophical meanderings really didn't do anything for me. Like Bergman and Tarkovsky, not my cup of tea.