I don’t know what it is about dreyer but I have sort of a love/hate relationship with his films.In some cases I feel he’s brilliant, in others I feel like like I’m watching a film just to say I watched it, and not really getting much out of it at all. I guess I just don’t know where I stand with him.
I havent seen his whole catalogue but I feel I’ve made a dent.
Films I loved by Dreyer:
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Day of Wrath
Films I didn’t like by Dreyer:
Gertrude (which is a contender for the most boring film I have ever seen)
Anyone else divided on Dreyer?
I can see why you feel that way about Gertrude, but there is still something spellbinding about it. I need to see it again, and possibly on the big screen (which is really where all these films should be seen before i feel i can make any judgments).
I know that gertrude was done with no make-up or artificial lighting, and has like 12 takes or something like that. And that all made me think that it was going to be great because I love when filmmakers do stuff like that. But it just had me looking at the clock every five minutes.
I love Vampyr, I loved the photography and dreamlike quality of it. On the other hand, I actually didn’t like Day of Wrath much and need to see The Passion of Joan of Arc again.
I admit that I have a love/hate relationship with “Gertrud” considering it flawless in regards to style, but featuring characters that are not likeable and difficult to care about. As for “Day of Wrath” did I consider the love story rather superficial the first time I watched it, and the film not as profound, but came to like it a bit more. Despite these aversions would I nevertheless regard both films as masterpieces from an objective point of view, and even rated them with 5 stars, since Dreyer´s extraordinary vision always shines through. As for “Ordet” and “The Passion of Joan of Arc” do I have no doubts at all and would rank them alongside the greatest works in cinema history, and “Vampyr” is an impressive and atmospheric vampire movie, maybe the best there is apart from Murnau´s “Nosferatu”.
Though I have yet to see “Vampyr” I have a growing admiration for the films listed above.I didn’t find a single dull moment in “Gertrud”.Try reading some articles and film reviews on “Gertrud”. I believe Jonathan Rosenbaum has some writting on the film on his website.
Rosenbaum’s comparison of Ford’s The Sun Shines Bright and Gertrud here
How does one embed a clip?
It’s hard to pick a best by Dreyer, Gertrud is a masterpiece to rank with Day of Wrath, Ordet and The Passion of Joan of Arc, i think. It seemed behind the times when it came out, when the French new wave was still in full swing, as it is controlled and with gradual camera moves, no fancy tricks, but attune yourself to its pace and beauty, the details of the relationships and decor, and the strength of the female lead (Nina Pens Rode is marvelllous) and you may yet appreciate it, Jasper Bleu. It took me a second viewing and several years later to.
Dreyer had strong women in Master of the House, Joan of Arc, Gertrud..and women that seem threatening to men or independent elsewhere too, in Joan and Day of Wrath they pay dearly. The old issues of women as whore, angel or witch
his short film They Caught the Ferry, going on roads at high speed, is worth seeing
I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit Passion or Ordet- multiple viewings have milked my interest in them. But Gertrude is something I don’t think I’ll ever master. It’s so dense you can almost measure the thickness of the two-dimensional image. I can spend an entire scene staring at the white grain in a corner of the screen.
Gringo Tex, have a look at James Schamus’ Gertrud: The Moving Word. He examines the film by choosing one image to bear down upon: the tapestry of the nude woman. It’s a short (but dense) 75 pgs. Here
Great stuff, KJ- thanks!
thanks KJ- watching Gertrud this weekend
Just finished watching Gertrud.
Much of the film was slow for me as the characters seemed bland (the stilted acting didn’t help). I also didn’t think the visual elements were really interesting. The compositions were precise, almost too formal (I can understand the comparison to Ozu), and while this may have been appropriate for the film, I didn’t find it very interesting.
However, I really liked the theme(s) of the movie—the idea of Gertrud’s stubborn insistence on being loved on her terms (was she unreasonable?); the line—man’s work and woman’s love: eternal enemies; the way that line applies to even the romantic poet.
I’d like to hear from those who like visual aspects of the film. To me, the visual elements didn’t seem very different from a play. I’m interested in expanding/correcting this perception.
While I find his films slow—like looking at paintings in a museum—I find his themes to resonate with me deeply.
Aren’t there only about 85 shots in all of Gertrud? The movie, at almost two hours, has an incredible ASL (average shot length). But, like Jazz, I found it almost too formal. This is how I’ve felt with all of Dryer’s sound pictures. Though I do need to see Ordet again.
Ordet was very much like this (and like Gertrud, I didn’t connect with the film until deep into the film).
Nathan, so did you like Ordet? I really liked that one, but I want to watch it again to see if I like as much as I think.
I think Vampyr is my favourite so far
Jazz – Yes, I did like Ordet, but that comes with an asterisk, because I saw it in a very strange circumstance and I’m not sure if I’ve really seen it as it’s intended to be seen. I won’t go into an explanation here, but trust me.
Link to Rosembaums article on Gertrud that I metioned above. Took me awhile to find it.
“Getrud” is one of the towering masterpieces of world cinema. I shall never forget seeign it for the first time at the 1965 New Yoirk Film Festival with Dreyer present.
With the possible exceptions of his early films The Parson’s Widow and Leaves From Satan’s Book, all of Dreyers films are excellent if not outright masterpieces, and Gertrud is perhaps the pinnacle.
Every time I see a great comment that I agree with, I look at the author, and its something that I had written 9 months ago.
Gertrud could be cut, or re-written to about 45 minutes and it could have been great.
“Gertrud could be cut, or re-written to about 45 minutes and it could have been great.”
Oh yeah? Exactly which unnecessary scenes would you cut?
i’ve only seen passion, ordet, gertrud, day of wrath, vampyr, and michael
he might be the best director of all time.
gertrud is amazing. i think if you don’t like this film, you just aren’t interested in human beings and their behavior. or literature for that matter.
by the way, did anyone else notice that in gertrud, none of the characters ever look at each other when their speaking? for me that was the most interesting aspect of the movie
That’s why isn’t a conventional drama at all, but an experiemental film.
At the time of its release critics with no knowledge of the material thought Dreyer merely filmed Soderberg’s play as is. In fact he completely rewrote the play — eliminating many speeches and characters, and adding an ending that is nowhere in the play.
Gertrud was fine, but I liked Ordet much better. Ordet a lilting quality that I liked more than the absolute rigor of Gertrud. I also thought the people in Ordet were more interesting.