Carl Theodor Dreyer
Carl Theodor Dreyer
3 – 21 December 2011
Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land one can never tire of exploring. There is no greater experience in a studio that to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.
Carl Theodor Dreyer, 'Thoughts on my Craft'
Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889–1968) remains a unique figure in the history of cinema. Dreyer’s enduring fascination with the tragic consequences of seeking freedom from social and religious convention lead him to create an austere and intensely visual oeuvre. Dreyer's masterpiece of the silent era, The Passion of Joan of Arc 1928, remains today a powerful expression of religious persecution and spiritual transcendence.
This retrospective program features new 35mm restorations made available through the generous assistance of the Danish Film Institute, Swedish Film Institute and Cineteca di Bolonga. Live musical accompaniment will be provided on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ by David Bailey and on piano by Mauro Colombis.
Wed 7 Dec 6.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 89 MINUTES, DENMARK, COMBINED DANISH AND ENGLISH INTERTITLES / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/ART DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘DER PRESIDENT’ (1884) BY KARL EMIL FRANZOS / CINEMATOGRAPHER: HANS VAAGØ / PRODUCTION CO: NORDISK FILMS KOMPAGNI / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE
‘The President is set in an unspecified European country in the late 19th Century. In the film’s prologue, Karl Victor von Sendlingen promises his dying father not to marry beneath his station. A flashback reveals that the father was forced into an unhappy marriage with a girl from a lower social class when he got her pregnant. Thirty years later, Karl Victor is a presiding judge ("president") in a small town. He is sentencing to death a young woman, Victorine, who has killed her own child born in secret, when he realises the young woman is his own daughter. Dreyer’s impressive debut film shows his enormous ambition in its intricate flashback narrative structure and its refined images, in which Dreyer was deliberately striving to imitate painters such as Whistler and Hammershøi. Most remarkable about the film is the psychological complexity with which the protagonist is portrayed. Very few films before 1920 demonstrate anything remotely like it.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sun 4 Dec 2.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 171 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH INTERTITLES (LIVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, EDGARD HØYER / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘SANTANS SORGER’ (1895) BY MARIE CORELLI / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GEORGE SCHNÉEVOIGT / ART DIRECTORS: AXEL BRUUN, JENS G LIND / PRODUCTION CO: NORDISK FILMS KOMPAGNI / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE
‘Leaves from Satan’s Book is divided into four episodes set in four different historical eras. In each episode we follow Satan, who has been cursed by God and is doomed to tempt man. He will be redeemed only if he is resisted. In episode 1, Satan in the guise of a Pharisee tempts Judas to betray Jesus. In episode 2, set in 16th-Century Spain, Satan is a grand inquisitor who compels a monk, Don Fernandez, to commit a heinous rape. Episode 3 takes place during the French Revolution: Satan is now a Jacobin leader who convinces young Joseph to betray his noble master and thwart a plan that could have saved Queen Marie Antoinette from death at the guillotine. In episode 4, Satan is a former monk who leads a gang of Red Guards during the Finnish civil war in 1918. He threatens to kill the family of a telegraph operator, Siri, unless she helps lure a group of government soldiers into an ambush. She resists, however, committing suicide rather than becoming a traitor. This grandly conceived film remains impressive, with its searching close-ups, severely unembellished decorations, tight editing and delicately centred compositions.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sat 10 Dec 1.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 88 MINUTES, SWEDEN SWEDISH AND DANISH INTERTITLES (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER / BASED ON THE STORY ‘PRESTEKONEN’ (1901) BY KRISTOFER JANSON / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GEORGE SCHNÉEVOIGT / ART DIRECTORS: AXEL BRUUN, JENS G LIND / PRODUCTION CO: SVENSK FILMINDUSTRI / PRINT SOURCE: SVENSKA FILMINSTITUTET / RIGHTS: SF FILMS
‘The Parson’s Widow is set in 17th-Century Norway. Söfren, a young theology candidate, is hoping to get a ministry in a small village, so he can marry his sweetheart, Mari. However, the position will not be his unless he marries his predecessor’s widow, the stern Margarete, who has already put three husbands in the grave. Mari moves in under the pretence of being Söfren’s sister, but Margarete repeatedly foils every attempt he makes to get Mari alone. One day he moves a ladder to trap Margarete in the attic, but instead Mari falls down and seriously injures herself. Söfren confesses all to Margarete who says that her story is the same: her fiancé also had to marry a parson’s widow and they had to wait five years for her to die. Shortly after, Margarete dies and Söfren and Mari can marry. The Swedish production exploits a backdrop of majestic Nordic landscapes, while the characters are not just heroes or villains but people struggling with difficult moral or psychological quandaries. The film impressed people in its day because of its chamber-play-like concentration on the three main characters and its authentic period depiction: costumes, props and customs are reproduced with great care for folkloric detail, and Dreyer shot the whole film in real 17th-century houses at Maihaugen, an open-air museum near Lillehammer.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sat 10 Dec 3.30pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 95 MINUTES, GERMANY, COMBINED DANISH AND ENGLISH INTERTITLES / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘ELSKER HVERANDRE’ (1921) BY AAGE MADELUNG / CINEMATOGRAPHER: FRIEDRICH WEINMANN / ART DIRECTOR: JENS G LIND / PRODUCTION CO: PRIMUS FILM – BERLIN / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE
‘Love One Another is set in Russia before and during the revolution of 1905. The main character is a young Jewish girl, Hanne-Liebe, who has felt the prejudice among the Russians since childhood. As the result of a cruel intrigue she is expelled from her school, and she travels to St. Petersburg where her brother Jakov, a wealthy lawyer, lives. A convert to Christianity, Jakov has been disowned by their father. Hanne-Liebe meets back up with Sascha, a revolutionary-minded student from her hometown, and they fall in love. Meanwhile, a police provocateur, Rylowitsch, tricks Sascha into preparing an act of revolutionary terrorism. The police arrest him and all his comrades, and Hanne-Liebe is deported to her hometown. To deflect the simmering discontent among the populace, the government organises pogroms against Jews. Disguised as a monk, Rylowitsch spreads the poison of anti-Semitism. A joyous demonstration after the tsar proclaims a number of civil rights is warped by anti-Semitism into a nightmarish orgy of violence. Jakov and many others are killed, while Sascha saves Hanne-Liebe at the last minute. All his life, Dreyer was a sworn enemy of anti-Semitism, though this strong and impressive work was the only time he directly treated the subject in a film. Few, if any, films from this period depict the destructive power of racial hatred as clearly. The violence of the final pogrom still retains its power to shock.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sat 17 Dec 1.00pm (with Bride of Glomdal) / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 79 MINUTES, DENMARK, COMBINED DANISH AND ENGLISH INTERTITLES / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, PALLE ROSENKRANTZ / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘DER VAR ENGANG’ (1885) BY HOLGER DRACHMANN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GEORGE SCHNÉEVOIGT / EDITORS: CARL THEODOR DREYER, EDLA HANSEN / ART DIRECTOR: JENS G LIND / PRODUCTION CO: SOPHUS MADSEN FILM / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE
‘Once Upon a Time is set in a fairy-tale past. The jolly old king of the rococo land Illyria lets his beautiful, but capricious, daughter have her way in all things. She not only rejects every suitor who comes to call, she also has them executed. Only the Prince of Denmark, happening by on his travels with his faithful sidekick Kaspar Røghat, has such a way with words that the princess lets him live, even while as she spurns him, too. The film is an attempt to craft a Danish national film after the recipe presumed to be behind the success of the great Swedish films: working from a well-known work of literature and using nature as a backdrop. Schnéevoigt’s shots of Danish woods are terrifically atmospheric and beautiful. Personally, Dreyer thought the film lacked momentum, perhaps because Drachmann’s lyrical fairy play was unable to satisfy Dreyer’s wish for naturalistic and nuanced character descriptions. When the production ran into financial trouble, Dreyer was forced to make cuts, including the lavish market scene he had planned.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sun 11 Dec 1.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 89 MINUTES, GERMANY GERMAN INTERTITLES (LIVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, THEA VON HARBOU / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘MIKAËL’ (1904) BY HERMAN BANG / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: KARL FREUND, RUDOLPH MATÉ / ART DIRECTOR: HUGO HÄRING / PRODUCTION CO: DECLA-BIOSCOP / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE
‘Michael is the story of a famous artist, called The Master, and his love for a young man, Michael, who is his model and protégé. The Master gets a commission to paint a portrait of the Countess Zamikow, but he can’t quite capture the expression in her eyes. Michael, however, can. He has fallen in love with her. Time and again Michael abuses The Master’s trust in him, and The Master keeps forgiving him. Tortured by loneliness and Michael’s selfishness, The Master creates a final, magnificent painting before he dies, uttering the words, "Now I can die in peace, for I have seen a great love." Michael is a chamber play unfolding in sumptuously decorated interiors filled with extravagant objets d’art, and depicting a few people and their mutual relationships. All significant things remain unspoken. Dreyer has the camera tell the story in glances, facial expressions and objects. Although the homoerotic nature of the relationship between The Master and Michael is merely hinted at – Dreyer perfectly capturing the tone of Bang’s novel – it was enough for the film to be sharply denunciated in the US.’ Casper Tybjerg
Wed 14 Dec 6.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 107 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH INTERTITLES (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/EDITOR/ART DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, SVEND RINDOM / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘TYRANNENS FALD’ (1919) BY SVEND RINDOM / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GEORGE SCHNÉEVOIGT / PRODUCTION CO: PALLADIUM PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT
‘In the Frandsen household, Mrs Frandsen, Ida, toils from dawn to dusk, while her tyrannical husband, Viktor, requires constant attention and complains about everything. Viktor’s old nursemaid, Mads, is appalled at Viktor’s persistent rudeness. Soon, Ida’s health is in tatters and she is persuaded to move back in with her mother for a while. Mads takes over the household, bringing disquiet and discomfort into Viktor’s well-structured daily life. After a month of Mads’ disciplining, Viktor has learned to be gracious and accommodating. He desperately misses Ida, who by now has completely recuperated. After an emphatic talking-to from Mads, Viktor is reunited with his beloved wife. The film, a chamber play, merges canny humour with subtle psychological observation. Apart from a few scenes, Dreyer restricts all the action to the family’s small apartment, keeping us close to the characters. Dreyer sustains a consciously unglamorous everyday realism throughout, portraying every character with generous sympathy. The central theme is the husband’s lack of an eye for his wife’s devoted self-sacrifice, hence it is significant that the film is always showing us what the various characters see (or don’t see) and how they react. The film stands out as homage to marital happiness founded on mutual respect.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sat 17 Dec 1.00pm (with Once Upon a Time) / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 70 MINUTES, NORWAY, COMBINED DANISH AND ENGLISH INTERTITLES / NORWEGIAN INTERTITLES (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘GLOMDALSBRUDEN’ (1907) BY JACOB BREDA / CINEMATOGRAPHER: EINAR OLSEN / ART DIRECTOR: JENS WANG / PRODUCTION CO: VICTORIA FILM / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: EUROPE’S FINEST / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
‘Tore takes over the rundown family farm. Applying his youthful energy, he intends to make it into a big farm like Glomgården on the other side of the river, where beautiful Berit loves. Tore falls in love with her, but her father has promised her to rich Gjermund. As her wedding to Gjermund draws near, Berit runs away and seeks refuge with Tore and his parents. She soon falls deathly ill but recovers, asking for, and getting, her father’s permission to marry Tore. Jealous Gjermund is determined to prevent their wedding, however, in a dramatic climactic scene playing out around the rushing river. The Bride of Glomdal is a melodrama kept in a light tone, and nature is a significant co-actor. Gorgeous mountains and a rushing river frame the film, which was shot in the Norwegian high summer. Very unusually for Dreyer, he was not particularly well prepared for this film. No real script existed and he reportedly read the book on which the film is based on the train to Norway. Moreover, the film was shot in a very short time, because the actors had to return to the theatres after their summer vacation. The film is distinguished by some dramatic scenes with cross-cutting inspired by D.W. Griffith.’ Birgit Granhøj
Sat 3 Dec 6.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT (LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT), 96 MINUTES, FRANCE, DANISH INTERTITLES (LIVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: RALPH CHRISTIAN HOLM, PAUL LA COUR / TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: SIMON FELDMAN / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, JOSEPH DELTEIL / BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘JEANNE D'ARC’ (1925) BY JOSEPH DELTEIL / CINEMATOGRAPHER: RUDOLPH MATÉ / EDITORS: CARL THEODOR DREYER, MARGUERITE BEAUGÉ / ART DIRECTORS: HERMANN WARM, JEAN HUGO / PRODUCTION CO: SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE DE FILMS / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: GAUMONT
‘The Passion of Joan of Arc is based on the records of the 1431 trial that led to Joan of Arc being convicted of heresy and burned at the stake. In the film, the month-long process is condensed into a much shorter time frame. Alone, Jeanne must face a large assembly of priests and monks who bombard her with questions to pressure her into admitting that her visions were not sent by God, but even under threat of torture she stands fast. She is so ill that the judges dare not torture her, but under threat of burning at the stake they make her sign a statement that her visions were false. She soon retracts, however, and she is burned alive. Her death impresses the onlookers as martyrdom and the crowd rises up in rebellion against their oppressors. The representation of Joan of Arc in Dreyer’s masterpiece is radically different from the image of her as a national warrior heroine in shining armour that was found in every French schoolbook, and the director almost completely leaves out the historical events of the Hundred Years’ War. The sets were big and costly but severely stylised, almost abstract looking in their sparseness. All attention is concentrated on the spiritual and psychological confrontation between Joan and her judges, which is underscored by the dynamic, fast cutting and, not least, by the gigantic close-ups that lay bare every nuance of the characters’ reactions. While the initial reaction to the film’s uncompromising formal vocabulary and raw intensity was one of reserve, the film since the 1950s has occupied a place among the most respected masterpieces in film history.’ Casper Tybjerg
Fri 16 Dec 6.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 75 MINUTES, FRANCE/GERMANY, GERMAN INTERTITLES (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: RALPH CHRISTIAN HOLM, ELIANE TAYAR / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, CHRISTEN JUL / BASED ON THE STORY ‘CARMILLA’ (1872) BY SHERIDAN LE FANU / CINEMATOGRAPHER: RUDOLPH MATÉ / EDITOR: TONKA TALDY / ART DIRECTOR: HERMANN WARM / MUSIC: WOLFGANG ZELLER / PRODUCTION CO TOBIS FILMKUNST / PRINT SOURCE: CINETECA DI BOLOGNA / RIGHTS: EUROPE’S FINEST
‘Vampyr is a horror film set in the present. A young man, Grey arrives one night at the village of Courtempierre. His sleep is disturbed by ghostly apparitions and he wanders out into the luminous, misty night. In an abandoned factory-like building he sees dancing shadows and the creepy old woman who rules over them. Grey follows the shadows to a nearby castle, where one of them shoots the castle’s lord. The old woman, a vampire, bites Léone, the eldest of the lord’s two daughters, while the youngest, Gisèle, is seduced by the vampire’s helpers. Falling asleep, Grey witnesses his own funeral. After he wakes up, he helps an old servant drive an iron stake through the vampire’s heart. Though reality isn’t stylised, as in The Passion of Joan of Arc or German horror films of the 1920s, Dreyer still conjures a pervasive nightmarish atmosphere. We follow Grey through the entire film, but Dreyer opts for angles that make it hard to see the full picture and prowling camera movements that create a mood of danger lurking right outside the frame. The ominous eerieness is underscored by hazy photography, numerous death symbols, frequent dream sequences and many unexplained supernatural phenomena.’ Casper Tybjerg
Fri 9 Dec 6.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 97 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, MOGENS SKOT-HANSEN, POUL KNUDSEN / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘ANNE PEDERSDOTTER’ (1908) BY HANS WIERS-JENSSEN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: KARL ANDERSSON / EDITORS: EDITH SCHLÜSSEL, ANNE MARIE PETERSEN / ART DIRECTOR: ERIK AAES / MUSIC: POUL SCHIERBECH, PAUL LA COUR / PRODUCTION CO: PALLADIUM PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT
‘Day of Wrath is set in Denmark in 1620s, a period of peaking witch-hunts, spurred by Christian IV’s orthodox Protestantism. An aging minister, Absalon, marries Anne, a much younger woman – even younger than Martin, Absalon’s son from his first marriage. Tyrannised by her stern mother-in-law, Anne falls in love with Martin. Meanwhile, an old woman, Herlof’s Marte, is convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Absalon refuses to save her like he saved Anne’s mother when she suspected of witchcraft. Anne begins to think she has inherited her mother’s occult powers. When Absalon dies shortly after she wishes him dead, she is weighed down by guilt and finally confesses that she killed him with sorcery. The film’s sombre tone is underscored by its slow, deliberate rhythm and many quietly circling camera movements. Whether the camera is moving or still, every frame is lovingly composed, suggesting Dutch paintings (especially Rembrandt’s) in bare, whitewashed walls, black outfits and atmospherically designed shadow effects. The film depicts a world where puritan religion has such a merciless grip on people’s minds that they can only see passion and desire as the devil’s work – as witchcraft. Even those whose nature moves them to resist, like Anne, must invariably see themselves as enemies of good. Day of Wrath premiered during the German occupation of Denmark and it’s tempting to regard this dark tale of torture and persecution as an allegory of its time. Dreyer, however, rejected any such interpretation. The film was based on a Norwegian play from 1908 and by all indications he had long been planning to adapt it for film. When the film opened, it was met with disappointment: people found it too slow, too gloomy. Only later was Dreyer’s chiaroscuro study of the psychology of self-repression acknowledged as an undisputed masterwork of Danish and international cinema.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sun 11 Dec 3.30pm (with They Caught the Ferry) / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 78 MINUTES, SWEDEN, SWEDISH (LIVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER / SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER, EDVIN MARTIN / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘ATTENTAT’ (1934) BY WILLY OSKAR SOMIN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: GUNNAR FISCHER / EDITORS: CARL THEODOR DREYER, EDVIN HAMMARBERG / ART DIRECTOR: NILS SVENWALL / MUSIC: LARS-ERIK LARSSON / PRODUCTION CO: SVENSK FILMINDUSTRI / PRINT SOURCE: SVENSKA FILMINSTITUTET / RIGHTS: SF FILMS
‘Two People is set in contemporary Stockholm. From a montage of newspaper headlines and close-ups of chemical instruments we learn that a young researcher, Arne Lundell, has been accused of plagiarising an older rival, Professor Sander. The rest of the film takes place in Lundell’s apartment; he and his wife, Marianne, are the only characters. Lundell is informed that Sander has committed suicide, but it soon turns out that he was actually murdered, and a chain of circumstantial evidence points to Arne. The film is an experiment, an attempt to make a pure chamber play: apart from the flashback and the initial montage, all the action is set in one apartment and we only see the two main characters. The outside world exists only in the form of newspaper headlines, telephone calls, radio broadcasts and police sirens. Dreyer has the film’s emotional climax unfurl in a single unbroken shot, a fluid close-up, with the camera panning back and forth between the two characters.’ Casper Tybjerg
Sun 11 Dec 3.30pm (with Two People) / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 12 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH (LIVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER / CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR: JØRGEN ROOS / PRODUCTION CO: NORDISK FILMS KOMPAGNI FOR DANSK KULTURFILM OG MINISTERIERNES FILMUDVALG / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL BETACAM
Adaptation of the ‘myth’ by the Danish author and Nobel Prize winner Johannes V Jensen about a hazardous motorcycle ride which ends disastrously.
Sun 18 Dec 1.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 125 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER / ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: JESPER GOTTSCHALCH, KAREN PETERSEN / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘ORDET’ (1932) BY KAJ MUNK / CINEMATOGRAPHER: HENNING BENDTSEN / EDITOR: EDITH SCHLÜSSEL / ART DIRECTOR: ERIK AAES / MUSIC: POUL SCHIERBECK / PRODUCTION CO: PALLADIUM PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT
‘Morten Borgen is a farmer and a man of faith who awakened his region to Christianity in the spirit of Grundtvig. He has three sons: Mikkel, Johannes and Anders. Mikkel, who works the farm and is married to Inger, does not share his father’s faith. Johannes, once a student of theology, has lost his mind. Anders wants to marry Anne, the tailor’s daughter, but her family belongs to the Inner Mission, which is irreconcilable with Grundtvigianism, and so the young lovers can’t wed. Inger dies giving birth to a stillborn son. The calamity softens the two stern fathers and they give Anders and Anne permission to marry. Inger’s daughter, Maren, and Johannes, who has regained his sanity, pray by Inger’s casket for God to bring her back from the dead – and a miracle happens. Dreyer had wanted to adapt Kaj Munk’s play ever since he saw it performed in 1932, but he only succeeded 23 years later. The wild natural scenery lends the film tremendous authenticity, dramatically framing the families inside their tiny rooms with exposed beams. Dreyer constructed the film from long setups in combination with simple, yet intricate camera movements – a complex rhythm creating a visual purity and realism that become the strongest imaginable counterpoint to the action. The Word is regarded as one of Dreyer’s most important and best films. It was also his biggest commercial success, winning more acclaim and awards than all his other films combined. The Danish and international press all but unanimously hailed it as a masterpiece.’ Birgit Granhøj
Sun 18 Dec 3.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 115 MINUTES, DENMARK, DANISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CARL THEODOR DREYER / ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: JENS RAVN, SOLVEIG ERSGAARD / BASED ON THE PLAY ‘GERTRUDE’ (1906) BY HJALMAR SÖDERBERG / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: HENNING BENDTSEN, ARNE ABRAHAMSEN / EDITOR: EDITH SCHLÜSSEL / ART DIRECTOR: KAI RASCH / MUSIC: JØRGEN JERSILD / PRODUCTION CO: PALLADIUM PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE / RIGHTS: MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT
‘Gertrud is in a passionless marriage to Gustav Kanning. She tells him she wants a divorce, that she has begun a relationship with a young artist, Erland Jansson. Jansson seems ready to give up everything for his love for Gertrud, but still he falls short. At a party she meets an old love, Gabriel Lidman, who never got over that she left him. Gertrud will only be in a relationship if both parties make love their top priority. She won’t tolerate that the man in her life equates his love for her with his love for his work – or for his Havana cigars. Thirty years later she is all alone, looking back on her uncompromising life, regretting nothing. For Gertrud there is only love. In a rare move for Dreyer, there are almost no close-ups. Instead, we are treated to long, elaborate camera movements in a film that consists of just 89 setups. The end result is an almost relentlessly stripped-down visual style, characterised overall by purity and simplicity. There is consistently distance, both visual and emotional, between the characters and, in turn, no eye contact, while the lines are spoken very much like lines. This is the ultimate of Dreyer’s many portraits of women. While Dreyer’s other female characters typically are suffering women or victims of power and men, Gertrud is a strong, free woman who chooses life without tepid men and half love. ’ Dan Nissen
Live Musical Accompaniment
Mauro Colombis is an Italian classically trained musician. He completed two Masters in piano performance (from Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory in 1998 and Venice Conservatory in 2005) and a Bachelor of Art, Music and Spectacle from the University of Bologna. After returning to Italy from Moscow, he developed his own improvisation method, which embraces different styles, and began to compose and improvise for silent movies. Since 2002 he has played every year at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (The Pordenone Silent Film Festival) in Italy, the leading silent film festival internationally. He moved to Sydney in 2005 and collaborated a number of times with the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra, his piano music featuring on the DVD of the Australian silent classic The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906). He has continued to play for silent films, performing in Australian major cities and film festivals, including recent performances at the Australian Silent Film Festival (2011), the Adelaide Film Festival and the Sydney Festival.
Mauro Colombis first performed at the Australian Cinémathèque during the Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism and Beyond film program in 2008, accompanying The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) and Faust (F W Murnau, 1926). He returned in 2010 to perform the musical accompaniment for the Australian premieres of the restoration prints of Il Fauno (The Faun) (Febo Mari, 1917) and Cabiria (Giovanni Pastrone, 1914), as part of the program Extravagant Cinema: From Cabiria to the Inferno. On this occasion Mauro Colombis will accompany two films by Carl Theodor Dreyer on the opening weekend of the retrospective, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and Leaves from Satan’s Book (1921).
Brisbane-based Australian musician David Bailey developed a deep fascination with early 20th Century music at a young age which led to studies in piano and in particular the world of ragtime. As a teenager Bailey stumbled on the world of the cinema organ and was captivated by the rare and vast tonal and dynamic abilities of these instruments. A transition to organ studies followed and a deep passion grew for the music of the 20’s and 30’s and inturn their relationship to the world of silent cinema. Today Bailey is immersed in this musical world and personalities such as Sophie Tucker, Billie Holiday and Stephane Grappelli as well as theatre organists Sidney Torch and George Wright.
Bailey continues to perform in concert for many organ societies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand. Since the installation of the rare Wurlitzer style 260 organ in the Australian Cinematheque in 2006 (originally housed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre) he has composed and performed new film scores for many of the silent cinema programs held at the Gallery of Modern Art. These programs include Buster Keaton (2007), Silent Clown: Max Linder and Charlie Chaplin (2008), German Expressionism: Out of the Shadows and Beyond (2008), Hollywood on the Hudson (2009), Charles and Elsa Chauvel (2009), Harold Lloyd (2010) and Glamour: Adrian and the Golden Age of Hollywood (2010).