IMDb > Master of the House (1925)
Du skal ære din hustru
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Master of the House (1925) More at IMDbPro »Du skal ære din hustru (original title)

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Overview

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Release Date:
5 October 1925 (Denmark) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
When a man becomes tyrannical towards his family, the women of the house decide to teach him a lesson in gratitude. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Dreyer the master See more (16 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Directed by
Carl Theodor Dreyer 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Carl Theodor Dreyer 
Svend Rindom  play "Tyrannens fald"
Svend Rindom  screenplay

Original Music by
Lars Fjeldmose (sound reissue)
 
Cinematography by
George Schnéevoigt 
 
Film Editing by
Carl Theodor Dreyer 
 
Art Direction by
Carl Theodor Dreyer 
 
Set Decoration by
Carl Theodor Dreyer 
 
Music Department
Lars Fjeldmose .... musician: piano - new score
Preben Mortensen .... music recordist: Fjeldmose score
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Du skal ære din hustru" - Denmark (original title)
See more »
Runtime:
111 min | West Germany:78 min (25 fps)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
At the time of its original release in Paris, France this film played in 57 theaters in three weeks.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Carl Th. Dreyer: My Métier (1995)See more »

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
Dreyer the master, 8 February 2012
Author: sveinpa

Du skal ære din hustru was restored last year by Palladium, the original company that released it in 1925. It was also released on DVD along with the likewise newly restored Vredens Dag, Ordet and Gertrud. These are actually the first ever releases on DVD by the Danes themselves of their most important films. It took some time but the result is splendid, at least as far as Du skal ære din hustru is concerned. The current version is free from scratches and dirt and comes with the original Danish intertitles. It runs for 107 minutes.

Having seen the other early Dreyer films (before Jeanne) both long ago on the screen and on DVD relatively recent, I must say that this remains for me without doubt the most interesting one. Indeed it is great! This is because its success is purely cinematographic: Although based on the popular 1919 play "The tyrant's fall", it strikes me how little it resembles a stage performance; how well the natural acting (not in any way overacted) is integrated in the two or three small rooms of the troubled family's apartment, not least how excellently the scenes are constructed, and especially the lightning, which is never too bright, yet bringing out every detail in the house. It is a joy to see this environment come alive; a cross between a petit bourgeois and an upper working class world, as well as to study the many objects appearing from another time: The carefully hung pictures on the walls, the always-burning oven (it is winter) with its place for the kettle, and all the small oddities from a hundred years ago (well, almost). Indeed Dreyer himself paid utmost importance to it; he constructed everything from scratch to look exactly like a Christianshavn apartment, and he made sure that the camera always was positioned around the characters like it was another ghostly member of the family. We are drawn into the surroundings in a way that a theatre stage never could manage, and the actors are shown in their best possible manner, where only a small wink or a troubled gaze is enough to indicate what goes on inside them and how they interact with one another. This is a huge step forward from the previous films by Dreyer, and indeed from most other films at the time.

As the plot is well cared for by other posters, I will not bother here with any details but must say that I find the relationship between husband and wife to be as realistic as could be hoped for in a 1925 movie: Viktor may be a tyrant but only a household tyrant (they can be bad enough). He is cross, not violent. And Ida may be the typical suffering and under-appreciated wife but she bares her lot with great dignity. She loves him and supports him because she understands that his loss of business gives him hard times; he can barely support his family, yet he must appear like a winner to the outside world. The children seem to understand this as well, particularly the sympathetic and obedient Karen but also her younger brother Frederik, who must nevertheless endure some humiliating punishment. They seem to know every possible little detail that Viktor craves, and they try not to makes things worse for him. That leaves the rebel of the house, Viktor's old nanny, who provides both comical relief and some clever revenge structures. They all tell so much by playing so little, it is as if the story could be told almost by their gestures alone, without the need of the abundance of intertitles which to me are only stating the obvious. We can see what's going on; every frame tells a story and every cut makes us notice how swiftly the action can change from the tense to the out of hand. Dreyer is really himself the master of the house as far as editing is concerned, often creating fast moving scenes by making movement continue from one shot to another in a masterful way that was not common at that time. Today it easy to overlook such important details and consequently loose much of what makes this film special.

When first released, the film was an outstanding success, both with the critics and with the audiences, both in Denmark and abroad, most notably in France, where Le Temps saw its simplicity and attention to small details as a great example to be followed by French directors. In 1925, that included at least Jean Renoir, whose first films were not free from stagey drama and overacting (Nana...). The official Carl Th. Dreyer website provides both this review and others, although you need to brush up your Danish to read them (Well if James Joyce could do it...): It seems that the Danish critics all agreed that this was the best Danish film yet. The site also provides the full manuscript with many scenes missing from the current print. I think I remember seeing a beautiful scene where Karen, full of sisterly love, washes the nude Frederik, who is standing in a basin in the kitchen, but it is now missing. It is, however, shown on a still photo that is both on the DVD and on the Dreyer-site. Was it censored? Or is it just my dirty imagination? There are also some hilarious fantasy scenes in the manuscript, including one where Viktor is horsewhipping the entire family who are pulling him around on a wagon, that were either not filmed or cut somewhere along the way.

Anyway, the film as we have it in the current print remains one of the most moving of its era, as good as the similar ones by Murnau and Pabst from around the same time (say Tartuffe and Geheimnisse einer Seele), and that for me is as good as domestic cinema ever got in the twenties.

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Master of the House on DVD dcbill-1
the TCM version Angel2121
Piano Score and German title Musikdrama
It will air on TCM at midnight (ET) on 11/18/2012 michaelhelwick
Chosen as part of new Danish Canon tariboventola
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