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Leaves Out of the Book of Satan (1920)
"Blade af Satans bog" (original title)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 713 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 12 critic

After seeing D. W. Griffith's epic Intolerance, Denmark's greatest director, Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr), was inspired to make his own four-episode historical ... See full summary »

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(as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Writers:

(scenario by), (from a novel by), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Helge Nissen ...
Satan / The Grand Inquisitor / Erneste / Ivan
Halvard Hoff ...
Jesus (first sequence)
Jacob Texiere ...
Judas (first sequence) (as Jacob Texière)
Hallander Helleman ...
Don Gomez de Castro (second sequence)
Ebon Strandin ...
Isabel - Castro's Daughter (second sequence)
Johannes Meyer ...
Don Fernandez (second sequence)
Nalle Halden ...
The Majordomo (second sequence) (as Nalle Haldén)
Tenna Kraft ...
Marie Antoinette (third sequence) (as Tenna Frederiksen Kraft)
Viggo Wiehe ...
Count de Chambord (third sequence)
Emma Wiehe ...
The Countess of Chambord (third sequence)
Jeanne Tramcourt ...
Lady Genevive de Chambord (third sequence)
Hugo Bruun ...
Count Manuel (third sequence)
Elith Pio ...
Joseph (third sequence)
Emil Helsengreen ...
The People's Commissar (third sequence)
Viggo Lindstrøm ...
Old Pitou (third sequence)
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Storyline

After seeing D. W. Griffith's epic Intolerance, Denmark's greatest director, Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr), was inspired to make his own four-episode historical epic with each story told end to end, anthology-style, linked by theme to the others. The unifying character, Satan, attempts to win God's favor but is doomed to cheerless participation in dark episodes of human history: the temptation of Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the Russo-Finnish war of 1918. Few directors resisted compromise and convention the way Dreyer did; fortunately, the Nordisk Film Company was artistically progressive by Hollywood standards and agreed that this should be a prestige film made to the highest standards. More than two years in production, Dreyer not only directed but also controlled every facet of this ambitious production. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

24 January 1921 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Leaves Out of the Book of Satan  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Grapevine Video DVD) | | (2004 alternate)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the first films in the world that dealt with the Finnish civil war in 1918. See more »

Connections

Featured in Carl Th. Dreyer: My Métier (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Played in the 2004 alternate version score in the third sequence mostly to accompany the actors singing it silently on-screen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"I let the actors do what they liked - I was more interested in the composition of the image"
17 September 2007 | by (Chinatown, California) – See all my reviews

Carl Theodor Dreyer's second feature film is an ambitious study of evil through the ages, but the great Danish filmmaker is years away from his masterpieces of The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Ordet and Gertrud. The inexperienced filmmaker was influenced by D.W. Griffith's 1916 Intolerance and aimed to map out the path of the Devil using Griffith's innovative filming style as a guide. He added on his realistic approach to the subject matter, as he believed realism to be the most essential part of any film.

Like its inspiration, Intolerance, Leaves from Satan's Book contains stories from four historical periods linked thematically. Unlike Griffith's film though, Dreyer chose not to cross cut between stories, which makes for a less confusing film.

Satan is the character who links the four stories. The film starts with his fall from grace, as told through inter-titles, and God's proclamation that he walk the Earth tempting humanity. For each soul that turns from God, 100 years will be added to Satan's sentence, but for every person who resists his temptations, 1000 years will be removed. Hoping to fail in his duties so that he may be admitted back into heaven, Satan tries to get men to betray what they hold most dear in four eras of history.

The first section of the film is the biblical story of Jesus' betrayal by Judas. The next story takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. The third section of the film takes place during the French Revolution. The final segment is set in the Finland during the Russo-Finnish war of 1918. As a film, this wasn't Dreyer's best, but it was fairly entertaining. This early Dreyer film shows his almost innate ability to compose attractive images within the limits of the frame.

Though this film isn't the grand spectacle he was hoping for, Dreyer did a wonderful job with it. His use of the film frame and style of story telling make this a movie interesting and attractive to watch.


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