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
If you were to just watch this film half-heartedly or with a mind busy thinking of other matters, it would certainly seem like a dry film about infidelity and falling out of love - the kind of stuff that's been done a thousand times before, a thousand times before this film was made, even. And why did Dreyer have to make it so static, you might ask. But if you choose to delve into the matters at hand, feel the film's tenuous but painful emotions, you'll realize that there haven't been many films with more going on beneath the surface than this one. In fact, I can't think of another film that suggests so many themes, especially one with this little physical action onscreen. Most of Gertrud consists of two people at a time sitting on couches and facing opposite directions - no character in this film can bring themselves to look at someone else. These people talk about their relationships, either what could have been, what should have been, or what might be in the future. Although Gertrud is ostensibly a heroine - with the title as it is, we're almost required to believe that she is correct in her thoughts and actions and identify with her - as the film progresses it becomes more and more obvious that she is as much or more of the problem as the men whom she tends to blame. Then we're forced to backtrack and remember what things were involved in discussions earlier in the film in order to interpret it as a whole - take Axel's speech about free will, for instance, and Gertrud's response to it. I have just seen this film once, and I am positive that subsequent viewings will reveal many more layers. For the longest time, Gertrud was unavailable in the US. Now that it is readily available on both VHS and DVD, it's about time that it was completely rediscovered by the serious film watching community. 10/10.
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