A lonely widowed housewife does her daily chores, takes care of her apartment where she lives with her teenage son, and turns the occasional trick to make ends meet. However, something happens that changes her safe routine.
In the elegant world of artists and musicians, Gertrud ends her marriage to Gustav and takes a lover, the composer Erland Jansson. When he also fails to live up to her idealistic standards, she leaves him and imposes on herself a kind of exile of the heart. In flashbacks and in conversations laced with memories, we also learn of her affair with Gabriel, who still wishes she would go off with him, and we learn of her adolescence, with its early expression of her isolating ideal of absolute love. Written by
Despite running 2 hours, there are less than 90 shots in the entire film and only one exterior scene. This may account for the outright hostility that greeted the film from the critical fraternity when it was first released. See more »
When Gertrud walks across the room in order to give Axel his letters back, the shadow from the camera and equipment can clearly be seen on the back wall. See more »
The gardener has been told that only grass shall grow on my grave and in springtime I shall have anemones. You'll come by one day, pick an anemone and think of me. Take it as a word of love that was thought, but never spoken.
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Perhaps too stage-like, but the great camera-work captures pure cinema.
Carl Theodor Dreyer marked his place forever in the film canon for his terrific masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc. Back in film's most primitive stages, he managed to lift it out from its limitations and give us one of the greatest performances of all-time from Maria Falconetti. 36 years later with his final film, he again studies a single woman in an intimate minimal style. It tackles a complex issue, one of universal sensitivity, with the expectations of love. There's great subdued performances of characters who can hardly bear to look at each other. Based on a play built on a handful of sequences, it ends up inherently stage-like with its 3 walls and dialogue-driven narrative. While it may struggle with pacing with a few too many scenes that don't drive the story forward, its rich backstory is compelling and plays with the imagination. In that limitation, Dreyer makes elegant use of camera movements with long takes that are constantly changing frame size, it's really magnificent to watch. What makes the film hit hard is its sudden epilogue. The majority of the film takes place over a few days and we suddenly jump 30 years into the future to study the consequences. It's a profound, if incredibly dreary film. Many lessons to take from Gertrud, both in filmmaking and in life.
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