The President is set in an unspecified European country in the late 19th century. In the film’s prologue, Karl Victor von Sendlingen has to promise 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. A second flashback shows how his vow to his father made him break off with the young girl he loved because she was a commoner. She later died giving birth to their daughter. After much soul-searching, Karl Victor frees his daughter from her cell and together they flee the country. A few years later, when Victorine is happily married, death catches up with Karl Victor. –carlthdreyer.dk
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
Great debut. Possibly drawing the themes of illegitimate affairs and disownment from his personal experiences and adding catholic undertones to the narrative, Dreyer finds some signs of his distinctive directorial style right from the start.