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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ORDET (1955)

Carl Dreyer’s penultimate film is certainly more viewer friendly than his last, GERTRUD. But don’t let that fool you, it’s still a film for hardy souls, though this one generates a big emotional release. The dramatic issue centers around a proposed marriage across uncompromising Christian sects, a child birthing gone wrong, an intellectual turned Holy Fool, and how true belief can trump all concerns. But what makes the film so powerful is Dreyer ’s handling of the cast & physical setting. There’s layers of art behind the sparse abstraction while a mastery of ‘mise-en-scene’ and lateral tracking turn even the slowest actions into something dynamic. Possibly more powerful for non-believers who won’t expect the ending, but a must-see for all, especially in this handsome Criterion edition. Patience is its own reward here. For those who don't 'get' ascetic filmmakers (say Bresson or Pialat), this film might help turn the key for you.

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