How do we understand faith and prayer, and what of miracles? August 1925 on a Danish farm. Patriarch Borgen has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, ... See full summary »
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Emil Hass Christensen,
Preben Lerdorff Rye
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 »
Oliver's mother, a penniless outcast, died giving birth to him. As a young boy Oliver is brought up in a workhouse, later apprenticed to an uncaring undertaker, and eventually is taken in ... See full summary »
James A. Marcus,
In the nineteenth century, seventeen year old Effi Briest is married to the older Baron von Instetten and moves into a house, that she believes has a ghost, in a small isolated Baltic town.... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cold, rain, and fog surround a plant in Ravenna. Factory waste pollutes local lakes; hulking anonymous ships pass or dock and raise quarantine flags. Guiliana, a housewife married to the ... See full summary »
Melrose's circus is being threatened by his competitor, who's angry that Melrose has outmanuevered him in bookings; what he doesn't know is that the competitor has also planted a saboteur ... See full summary »
Erle C. Kenton
'Little Billy' Rhodes
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
Gertrud recounts a dream to Erland, where she was being chased by dogs and running through the forest naked. Later, when Gertrud falls ill and is escorted from the party, she is brought to a room where there is an enormous painting of a nude woman being attacked by dogs in a forest. 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 »
Even by Dreyer's standards "Gertrud" displays a rigidity rare in cinema. When it first appeared critics hated it, (just as they hated "The Searchers" and "Vertigo"). Now, of course, all three films are considered masterpieces but while "Vertigo" and "The Searchers" were commercial films aimed at a mass audience, "Gertrud" was strictly art-house, the kind of film critics were expected to like. It was also Dreyer's last film and it was archetypal Dreyer but this was also the mid-sixties and movies had moved on. We had had a renaissance in France and Italy and Czechoslovakia and even in the UK while America's 'New Wave' was just about to strike. It was a time for young film-makers and Dreyer was an old man. "Gertrud" looked and felt like it could have been made 30 years earlier. Of course, hindsight is a great thing and today "Gertrud" seems more 'modern' than many of the fashionable 'flash-in-the-pan' movies that hit us in the sixties and which now seem like time-capsules from a by-gone age. "Gertrud's" almost somnambulist pace and Dreyer's insistence on long takes, keeping his actors mostly static while allowing his camera to move, however slowly and deliberately, instead now seems almost revolutionary at a time when movies were chiefly about movement and movement in a pell-mell style. While taken from a 1906 play the theme of the film also seems peculiarly modern for the mid-sixties. It's about a woman's liberation from the constraints that men would seek to put upon her, even if that freedom means the sacrifice of romantic love in favour of higher, more intellectual pursuits. At the beginning of the film Gertrud leaves her stuffed-shirt of a husband because he's not prepared to love her unconditionally and attaches herself to a younger man who showers with romantic affection. But his love, too, is a sham and Gertrud is just another of his many conquests, so Gertrud leaves both men, and the poet she truly loved but who put his work above her and has now returned to reclaim her, and settles instead for a solitary but more 'intellectually' satisfying existence. It is a cold movie, it moves at a snail's pace and it is a film of ideas almost devoid of emotion if not feeling, (there is so little happening on screen it often seems like it could just as easily have been done on the radio). The acting is either intensely wooden or deeply cerebral depending on your point of view and since the characters are really only paradigms it is very difficult to engage with any of them. But it is also an incredibly beautiful film, displaying all of Dreyer's visual mastery, (as a 'stylist' Dreyer has always seemed very under-valued), and it's a film that challenges our preconceptions of what a romantic melodrama should be. Even by European art-house standards this is a much more rigorous dissection of the relations between men and women than we are used to. It won't be to everyone's taste but stick with it and you will be richly rewarded with a difficult and a bold film that strives to be a serious work of art and more than succeeds in its aims.
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