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Leaves From Satan's Book (1920)

Blade af Satans bog (original title)
TV-14 | | Drama | 24 January 1921 (Denmark)
In 4 episodic tales of human suffering; the temptation of Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the Russo-Finnish war of 1918, Satan attempts to win God's favor.

Director:

(as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Writers:

(scenario by), (from a novel by)
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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 From Satan's Book  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Grapevine Video DVD) | | (2004 alternate)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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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
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User Reviews

A Distraction from Dreyer's best

"Leaves Out of the Book of Satan" is a complex motion picture for someone who had only directed one film, but it is certainly a setback in Carl Theodor Dreyer's growth. Compared to "The President", a small but vivid work, this long film is a pompous exercise that in the end distracts from the best efforts in his filmography. Much has been said about the influence of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" on this film, but little is told about the Danish long tradition of feature-length films and how these probably influenced the American filmmaker. So it is a two-fold affair that adds very little to the appreciation of "Leaves Out of the Book of Satan". Here Dreyer deals with Evil as a decisive factor in the evolution of mankind, in a sort of mystic treatise for which he managed a big budget, several casts and four stories. Helse Nilssen plays Satan very well, first as a Pharisee inducing Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus, then as an Inquisitor during the imperial days of Spain, followed by the impersonation of a fanatic Jacobin during French revolution, and finally, in (then) present day, as a Bolshevik monk (resembling Rasputin) during Russian invasion of Finland. The first two parts and the conclusion last around 30 minutes each, but the French episode is long, and Satan enters late in the story. Unfortunately I share the opinion that this film is of utmost interest only to Dreyer's completists.


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