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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 »
A young man is elected by a small village to be its parson. As part of his duties, he is required to marry the widow of the parson before him. This poses two problems--first, the widow is old enough to be his grandmother, and second, he is already engaged to another woman. Written by
The name Carl Theodor Dreyer may inspire images of slow pans, heavy religious/mystical themes, and somnolent pacing, but it was not always thus. During his apprenticeship at Nordisk in the early '20's Dreyer scripted, edited, and directed all kinds of films. "The Parson's Widow" anticipates themes in the mature Dreyer, namely religion and carnality, but cloaks them in an agreeable, fast-paced (for Dreyer!) silent comedy.
A young parson wins a plum parish in 17th century Norway, but is obliged to marry the widow of his deceased predecessor and pretend his attractive young fiancee is his sister. Dreyer milks the situation for gags but goes for a sentimental finish a la Charlot. The master's touch is apparent in the close-ups of the pastor's would-be rivals and parishioners and a slow pan presaging the 360-degree views in "Vampyr." Amazingly, HIldur Carlsburg in the title role closely resembles Maurice Schutz, the old chatelain in "Vampyr," and the mother-in-law in "Day of Wrath."
All in all, a good film. But it is hard to believe that the director of this pleasant work could produce "La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc" just 6 years later.
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