The judge in a Danish town sees his illegitimate daughter facing a trial for the murder of her newborn child, and is rather sure that she will be sentenced to death. She became pregnant ... See full summary »
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The judge in a Danish town sees his illegitimate daughter facing a trial for the murder of her newborn child, and is rather sure that she will be sentenced to death. She became pregnant from an aristocrat who didn't want to marry her. The same fate happened to her mother, although he wasn't allowed to marry because of a vow he had given to his father who had to marry under rank after the girl got pregnant. As expected the sentence for his daughter is death, he asks for a pardon, but this isn't granted although he is promoted. So he decides to free her and get her out of the country at all costs. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dreyer himself was a child born out of wedlock and given to adoption by an unwed woman who died soon thereafter. No wonder the sufferings of a woman are the marrow of many of his films.
The Danish woman is widely considered to be a rather high-spirited and free-minded creature. There are several films in the series issued by the Danish Film Intitute which show how women take things in their own hands, choose their men, inflict revenge upon them. But that is not the case in Præsidenten. This is a full blown melodrama about the constant sufferings of women, generation after generation. A pretty outdated concept by 1919 standards, and a pretty moralizing version of the eternal story of men taking advantage of women, having their way with them and abandoning them. There's a lot of honor and duty involved int the style of a proper Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, but unlike G&S, the film takes itself much too seriously. There are some highly unmotivated actions and a very, very weird scene, that seems to be either totally butchered or else the Danes lacked the knowledge of how babies are born completely - the barely pregnant governess is driven into the night, she collapses in the woods... and the next morning she is found lying there with the dead child by her side! So naturally she is blamed with infanticide at once. I don't know how exactly, but I find it hard to believe that reproduction worked like that. There's also a lot of bad make-up as all the young men also play themselves in their ripe years, so overall the results aren't very convincing. A somewhat tedious production, but worthy a viewing.
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