Carl Theodor Dreyer was born out of wedlock to a Swedish housekeeper, Josefina Nilsson (1855-1891), who gave him up for adoption immediately after. The first year and a half of his life was turbulent, but the little boy finally found a home with the Dreyer family and was named Carl Theodor after his adoptive father. Dreyer’s birth mother died not long after his eventual adoption. Several film scholars have interpreted Dreyer’s frequent depictions of tragic women as an autobiographical element in his films.
Dreyer began his career as a reporter, specialising in aviation early on, in 1910-1913. Himself an active balloonist, he got a balloonist’s certificate in November 1911. Alongside his journalism, he wrote screenplays. His first realised script was Bryggerens Datter (Dagmar) (Rasmus Ottesen, 1912), produced by Det Skandinavisk-russiske Handelshus. In 1913-1918, he worked as a script consultant and writer at Nordisk Film, where he also made his directorial debut… read more
“We directors have a very large responsibility. We have it in our hands to lift the film from industry to art, and, therefore, we must go to our work with seriousness, we must want something, we must dare something, and we must not jump over where the fence is lowest. If film as an art is not to come to a standstill, we must work to create a mark of style, a mark of personality in the film. Only from this can we expect renewal.” -- Carl Theodor Dreyer
"There is a similarity between an artwork and a person. Just as one speaks about a person's soul, one may also speak of an artwork's soul, its personality. The soul reveals itself in the style, which is the artist's device for his understanding of the material. Style is necessary to secure inspiration in an art form. But it is invisible and untraceable." - Carl Th. Dreyer
No words can express my respect and love for Dreyer's work. With Ozu and Bresson, he is responsible for changing my view on cinema. More than 15 years after watching The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time, a Master degree about his work, I still think very few directors can compare to him.