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Leaves From Satan's Book (1920)

Blade af Satans bog (original title)
TV-14 | | Drama | 24 January 1921 (Denmark)
In 4 episodic tales of human suffering; the temptation of Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the Russo-Finnish war of 1918, Satan attempts to win God's favor.

Director:

Carl Theodor Dreyer (as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Writers:

Edgar Høyer (scenario by), Marie Corelli (from a novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Helge Nissen Helge Nissen ... Satan / The Grand Inquisitor / Erneste / Ivan
Halvard Hoff Halvard Hoff ... Jesus (first sequence)
Jacob Texiere Jacob Texiere ... Judas (first sequence) (as Jacob Texière)
Hallander Helleman Hallander Helleman ... Don Gomez de Castro (second sequence)
Ebon Strandin ... Isabel - Castro's Daughter (second sequence)
Johannes Meyer ... Don Fernandez (second sequence)
Nalle Halden Nalle Halden ... The Majordomo (second sequence) (as Nalle Haldén)
Tenna Kraft Tenna Kraft ... Marie Antoinette (third sequence) (as Tenna Frederiksen Kraft)
Viggo Wiehe Viggo Wiehe ... Count de Chambord (third sequence)
Emma Wiehe Emma Wiehe ... The Countess of Chambord (third sequence)
Jeanne Tramcourt Jeanne Tramcourt ... Lady Genevive de Chambord (third sequence)
Hugo Bruun Hugo Bruun ... Count Manuel (third sequence)
Elith Pio Elith Pio ... Joseph (third sequence)
Emil Helsengreen Emil Helsengreen ... The People's Commissar (third sequence)
Viggo Lindstrøm Viggo Lindstrøm ... Old Pitou (third sequence)
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Storyline

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 epic with each story told end to end, anthology-style, linked by theme to the others. The unifying character, Satan, attempts to win God's favor but is doomed to cheerless participation in dark episodes of human history: the temptation of Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the Russo-Finnish war of 1918. Few directors resisted compromise and convention the way Dreyer did; fortunately, the Nordisk Film Company was artistically progressive by Hollywood standards and agreed that this should be a prestige film made to the highest standards. More than two years in production, Dreyer not only directed but also controlled every facet of this ambitious production. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Denmark

Release Date:

24 January 1921 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Leaves Out of the Book of Satan See more »

Filming Locations:

Kagerup, Denmark

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nordisk Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD) | | (2004 alternate)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the first films in the world that dealt with the Finnish civil war in 1918. See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2004, the Film Preservation Associates, Inc. copyrighted a version with a new piano music score by Philip Carli. It was produced for video by David Shepard and runs 121 minutes. See more »

Connections

Edited into From Camille to Joan of Arc (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Played in the 2004 alternate version score in the third sequence mostly to accompany the actors singing it silently on-screen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Intolerable Knockoff
27 May 2005 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

Carl Theodor Dreyer is the greatest filmmaker to come out of Denmark (and one of the greatest from anywhere), but not here. This was early in his career, so I suppose it's excusable. Dreyer connects four stories from Christ to modern times just as D.W. Griffith did in "Intolerance" (1916), which obviously was the inspiration for this film. Story-wise, the four periods are more connected in this picture, with Satan binding them; there's only the theme of intolerance throughout the ages and all that for "Intolerance". It's the radical editing in "Intolerance", however, that links its periods on much higher levels, ending in an exciting, emotional and astonishing climax. Dreyer doesn't get enough sympathy out of Satan to make up for that.

The cinematography and film-making here are what one might expect from the era--prosaic, indeed. There are a few close-ups and some panning for practical purposes. A few shots were okay (a shot a la Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, a silhouette of a guillotine, POV shots out a window, some of the dolly movements inside), but most of it's basic--boring by today's standards. There's lots of masking, which Griffith and Bitzer are well known for, with opening iris shots and such, but there's probably too much of that here, and it's certainly not enough to make the film visually appealing. Satan doomed to continue his evil deeds during the life of Christ, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the Russian occupation of Finland just isn't interesting enough of a story by itself to make the two hours worth it.


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