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Day of Wrath (1943)
"Vredens dag" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  24 April 1948 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,485 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 62 critic

The young wife of an aging priest falls in love with his son amidst the horror of a merciless witch hunt in 17th century Denmark.

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Kirsten Andreasen ...
(uncredited)
Sigurd Berg ...
(uncredited)
Harald Holst ...
(uncredited)
...
The Bishop (uncredited)
Emanuel Jørgensen ...
(uncredited)
Sophie Knudsen ...
(uncredited)
Preben Lerdorff Rye ...
Martin (Absalon's son from first marriage) (uncredited)
Lisbeth Movin ...
Anne Pedersdotter (Absalon's second wife) (uncredited)
Preben Neergaard ...
Degn (uncredited)
Sigrid Neiiendam ...
Merete (Absalon's mother) (uncredited)
Emilie Nielsen ...
(uncredited)
Thorkild Roose ...
Rev. Absalon Pederssøn (uncredited)
Anna Svierkier ...
Herlofs Marte (uncredited)
Hans Christian Sørensen ...
(uncredited)
Olaf Ussing ...
Laurentius (uncredited)
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Storyline

In a 17th-century Danish village, an old woman is accused of witchcraft. In the shadow of her flight, capture, confession, and burning at the stake, the young wife of the town's aging pastor falls in love with the pastor's son. Her confession of this illicit affair to her husband brings on her husband's death. At the funeral the pastor's mother denounces the young widow as a witch. Will the widow's lover come to her defense, or has the day of wrath returned? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 April 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Day of Wrath  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though the film is outwardly a chronicle of a religious witch-hunt, it contained many subtler comparisons to the behavior of the Nazis (torture and questioning) and Carl Theodor Dreyer fled Denmark for Sweden where he remained until the war was over. See more »

Goofs

When Absalon converses with Laurentius on his death bed, a microphone is visible at the top of the frame. See more »

Quotes

Anne Pedersdotter: I see through my tears, but no one comes to wipe them away.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Toutes les histoires (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
9/10
2 September 2004 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

One of Dreyer's most accessible works; it has a dramatic story (witch hunting!) and still investigates the characters' morality and their relation to the world they exist in. This film is about the difference between life and the soul (the life that you live now and the soul of post-life, and the soul that fills your life as you live it), those at the stake and those on trial in the home, and the spells we cast on each other. When an accused witch confesses to being one to hopefully save her life (which doesn't happen) she threatens with witchery the man who won't save her. Obviously witches don't exist, but why, when sentenced to death, would she suddenly say she has a witch's power? To frighten him? Because she believes that she must be a witch, if others think she is? Or just to scare him? It's not clear. This is Dreyer's most overtly sexual film, where sex is a weapon (that eventually leads to a death); we see the relationship between the young girl, Anne, who falls in love with her much older husband's son (the same actor who played Johannes in Dreyer's next great film, "Ordet"), and, by the end of the film, we see that she has cast her spell on him, and is herself to be accused of being a witch.

Dreyer's films, which got more difficult as he got older, don't seem to have a date; certainly period pieces like this exist in a certain time, but put "Day of Wrath" next to "Gertrud" and you'd hardly notice a twenty year difference -- or few hundred years difference, in terms of the setting. And yet Dreyer's sense of place is almost unmatched, largely because of his simplicity: the costumes seem almost amateur, the acting is theatrical -- not so much in style, but in presentation (the actors seem to have been told where to stand and when). His films exist purely within this world he created, not minding the styles of the day; he's the truest of auteurs. He is also one of the great directors of women, and here elicits excellent performances from his entire cast (keeping in mind the date of production) but especially those of the two mothers in the film, the one who is put to the stake, and the other who is the mother to Anne's much older husband.

Despite the heavy seriousness of the religious beliefs in the film, Dreyer isn't religiously driven. He is driven by the soul, but these films are not the works of a fundamentalist. Dreyer looks at the actions of the characters, which are, at their worst, adultery and murder, and uses them as a moral, spiritual, and personal crisis in which to look for nothing less than meaning in life. 9/10


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