Gertrud demands total presence from her lovers, and recognizes when it's not being given. Still, what defines her is her devotion to love (amor omniae est) - an ideal she's destined never to attain without a man. In the end, she becomes like the men who disappointed her, consumed by work instead of love. The only difference is that Gertrud tried to find pure love and never settled for less.
I can see why this didn't go down so well at the time--given that it seems to hail simultaneously from the 19th and 22nd centuries--but if you hang with it, one of the more profound movies about time, love and lack-of-love, the boundaries of the self, etc. will reveal itself. There are even a few laughs.
A maddening and transcendent avant-garde soap opera which couches valuable, heartfelt messages in theatrical stylization so unrelentingly dour and humorless that it sometimes risks laughter. Still, what an ending, and there is no shortage of formal invention, including the best lighting cinema has ever seen. You might say my biggest problem is that formalists insist on canonizing it. 4 out of 5 stars.
I know this is cinematic heresy, but this movie IS boring. Watching it was akin to being impaled with nails. Still there were moments of Dreyer's genius on display here, but this is no The Passion of Joan of Arc or Day of Wrath.
Within such a minimalist production style – extended single shots of dialogue occasionally linked by a simple camera track, sparse use of sets – hides so much emotional power. That the actors don’t even look directly into each other’s eyes just add to the sad tone of lost love for the main female character and her attempts to keep her head held high regardless. It is an utterly beautiful achievement.
The best female portrait Dreyer made in his career, because he draws feelings not only out of the script and his characters but deep within his own self as well. His everlasting concern for female suffering has never played a greater role than the one in Gertrud.
This is Dreyer’s "most Dreyer like" film. Its beautiful and still observations of a woman’s lonley search for an unobtainable love proves again why Dreyer is seen as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century.