Carl Theodor Dreyer (Widescreen/Full Screen) [4 Discs]
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Following the release of Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, The Criterion Collection renews its commitment to this major director with a Special Edition box set of his sound films, Day of Wrath, Ordet, and Gertrud. Each is an intense exploration of the clash between individual desire and social expectations, with Dreyer's famously perfectionist attention to detail shining throughout. With brand new digital transfers supervised by Gertrud director of photography Henning Bendtsen, the Criterion Collection is proud to present these Dreyer masterpieces on DVD for the first time. The fourth disc in the set presents the masterful 1995 documentary on Dreyer by Danish filmmaker Torben Skødt Jensen, Carl Th. Dreyer-My Métier. Extensive interviews with collaborators and actors provide fresh insight into the life and work of one of cinema's great masters.
When asked to describe his work, Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer said that film should present "truth filtered through an artist's mind, truth liberated from unnecessary detail." This collection of Dreyer's three major sound features demonstrates the director's rigorous commitment to that idea.
Day of Wrath (1943)--filmed during the Nazi occupation of Denmark--is set in a 17th-century village where the fear of witchcraft and the repression of human passions lead to tragedy. Ordet (1955) is considered by many to be Dreyer's masterpiece. This complex family drama is both moving and challenging, and the ending is one of cinema's greatest moments. Gertrud (1964) tells the story of a woman's search for fulfillment. Nina Pens Rode gives an extraordinary performance, heightened by Dreyer's peerless pacing and composition.
Accompanying the three films is a documentary by avant-garde filmmaker Torben Skjodt Jensen. Dreyer claimed to be surprised that anyone would want to make a film about him, but a greater understanding of the personality and the craft that went into the making of these films only enhances their impact. In spite of a career characterized by as many setbacks as successes, Dreyer's uncompromising commitment to his art (he once suspended filming because the clouds were moving in the wrong direction) resulted in work that continues to enthrall audiences and inspire filmmakers to this day.
Interviews with Dreyer's collaborators provide the backbone of My Metier, but it is Jensen's visual approach--building layered images from photographs, manuscripts, and film clips--that explores and responds to Dreyer's movies in subtle but powerful ways. Instead of a succession of talking heads and illustrative excerpts, Jensen offers an impressionistic portrait of Dreyer in a documentary that is often as beautiful as its subject's own work. --Simon Leake
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Top Customer Reviews
Of this set, my two favorites are Ordet and Gertrud. All of Carl Dreyer's film manage to magically combine the physical and the metaphysical. It takes time to get into the pace of these films, but one into them, they are totally absorbing. The pace required is that of real time. These films restore real emotion and humanity to film, so very different from what passes for emotion and feeling in most of today's Hollywood productions.
To understand these films it is necessary to work from the inside out as it were. We are required to do the work for ourselves. We have to think and feel for ourselves as we watch these films. They are theraputic in the sense that the viewer has to slow down and pay attention. Everything counts in a Dreyer film.
These film are at one and the same time abstract and very personal. I can see how they have influenced fellow Dane Lars von rier.
For anyone is looking for action and external excitement in their films, I would suggest that they look elsewhere, but if they are want to see meditative works of art, this is the place to find them.
*Day of Wrath* (Five Stars): Groundbreaking masterpiece about witchcraft in Reformation-era Denmark. The general feeling, I may as well tell you, is one of unrelenting misery. A well-into-middle-age Lutheran clergyman lives with his sour mother and his twenty-something beautiful wife. His adult son from his first marriage returns home to find that his "stepmother" is the same age as he is . . . guess what happens. Meanwhile, the old clergyman presides over the burning of a nice old lady who has been accused by the village elders of being a witch and a minion of Satan. (Yes, Joe McCarthy wasn't Miller's sole inspiration for *The Crucible* -- this movie predates that play.) So far, so good, right? Well, don't be too sure: as a matter of fact, the old biddy IS sort of a witch, as is the beautiful young wife. For that matter, the old pastor is anything but a meanie: he's a decent old stick . . . his principles are compromised, to be sure, but he's no villain. And neither is his sourpuss mother: even she has some vindication at the end. Check your assumptions at the door. Oppressive society? or a society that creates the very Evil that it persecutes? or a society merely protecting itself? Dreyer treats us like grown-ups, letting us ponder the ambivalences of this dark masterwork for ourselves.
*Ordet* (Five Stars): Based on a play by someone called Kaj Munk. Makes a serious claim to be the Best Movie Ever Made. It's so starkly artful, so ultimately beautiful, that it really defeats a 1-paragraph critique.Read more ›
Known mostly for his wonderful interpretation of "Joan of Arc" & "Vampyr", Dreyer's later work is equally riveting (if not moreso). His understanding of the human condition shines through in each film.
If you have a penchant for Scandinavian film-making, this is a necessary buy. If you just love films, it's well worth your time to decide if it's your cup of tea.
Finally, as for Criterion's working- it's tops, as usual. Their attention to detail evident in each film they persue.
Most recent customer reviews
Watch out, cinema lovers! Carl Theodor Dreyer is a unique director, and his films require a special kind of patience. Read morePublished on April 1 2004 by bruther
It is fantastic that Criterion supervised this release. The biography disc is OK - too bad we didn't get 'Vampyr' instead - but the three Dreyer movies alone are worth far more... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004 by C. Rubin
This collection would be improved by inclusion of the early Dreyer comedy The Master of The House. I have seen Gertrud and The Day of Wrath in the cinema several times and Gertrud... Read morePublished on May 25 2002 by Milos Tomin
I as well think Ordet is the best of the collection. Its haunting and powerful narrative provides a daring yet refreshing look into faith and death. Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2001 by Robq
I've been a longtime fan of the films of Dreyer, not only for the profound themes that he portrays in his films, but also for the unusual way he sets and composes his scenes. Read morePublished on Sept. 12 2001 by DAVID W MARTIN
I purchased this box set having only previously seen Dreyer's Day of Wrath (and Passion of Joan of Arc, which although not included is available separately on a great disc from... Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2001 by Jeremy Heilman
These films are true works of art. If you have any sympathy for the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, or that of Ingmar Bergman, then it is almost certain that you will appreciate Dreyer. Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2001 by Robert Bezimienny
Carl Th. Dreyer is a director in dire need of rediscovery by cineasts and dedicated tv broadcaster alike. Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2001 by Lars Bredo Rahbek Aps
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